Have you ever started something new, like a new business, a job, a sport, even a fun hobby and spent endless hours trying to learn everything you could about it until it feels like your brain might explode? That may be an exaggerated example of information overload, but many of us experience it daily because we have instant access to vast amounts of information at our fingertips.
Associating our routine with over-exposure, excessive viewing of information, and input abundance of information and data may cause us to feel distracted, anxious, fatigued, or even depressed. This is called the information overload; the difficulty in understanding an issue and effectively making decisions when one has too much information.
Information overload can cause physical symptoms!
It’s true! It can cause headaches, mental confusion, eye strain, stress and moodiness. It can even lead to weight gain, high blood pressure, cardiovascular issues and more.
Aside from physical symptoms it can also cause problems in both your personal and professional relationships. I know that may seem extreme but the reason it can take such a toll on your life is because most information overload happens by choice.
Sufferers often choose to be on social media all day. They’re surfing the web for the next bite of juicy info, watching videos and binging on latest news stories or TV shows.
It’s almost like drinking water straight from the tap. Anytime you want to learn about something, you can turn it on and start consuming a never-ending stream of information, especially online because it’s easy to get drawn down into the rabbit hole of unending information. So much so that it becomes hard to determine what information is good and what isn’t.
More trouble with information overload
It can lead to poor information filtering
When you’re bombarded with so much information, your brain can’t filter it properly. Which means that instead of filtering it in terms of importance it just generalizes all information as being the same. This is terrible when it comes to making decisions.
It leads to bad choices
If you can’t properly filter information to determine what’s true, what’s right or what’s wrong, you’ll have a hard time making good choices. Information overload can cause you to choose poorly on any number of issues, because the excess noise causes confusion making it hard to determine what’s right.
It can harm relationships
Information overload can also cause harm your relationships. If you’re always on your smartphone, looking at social media and aren’t present in your life, it can take its toll one your family. If your partner, family and friends are always complaining that you’re spending too much time online then chances are you’re doing damage to those relationships, so take notice.
It can lead to black and white thinking
The world isn’t black and white. The world is colorful, black, white, gray and everything in between and more. The same can be said for many issues. There are very few issues that are either right or wrong, black or white.
If you have too much information at your fingertips and are rating everything the same, it’s easy to see things as black and white, which can make it hard to have a happy life, achieve your goal and become successful.
It can lead to memory loss and more
When you’re suffering from severe information overload, many people start to experience mental symptoms such as short-term memory issues, confusion and even depression. If you find that you’re feeling confused, forgetting appointments and aren’t doing your best at work or home there is a very good chance that information overload is the culprit.
Information overload sneaks up on you and it can be a big problem for a many of us. Need proof? Watch the news. People are wrecking their cars because they’re unable to turn away from their text messages. Who knows how much money is lost in overall productivity due to information overload.
When it comes to overcoming information overload you can do your part by trying to limit the time spent online randomly researching one topic after the other. Try to avoid multitasking such as working on your computer, checking email, scanning social media and listing to the news all at the same time. Instead try to focus on completing one task at a time or at least stick to one topic rather than multiple ones.
This can be extremely challenging because most of us our used to multitasking and working through interruptions. Which (realistically) can’t always be avoided, but when it comes to reaching your goals it’s important to teach yourself to block out the noise that comes from access to too much information, especially when you’re striving towards real success.
In the next series, we will be talking more about the problems associate with having access to too much information, so you can avoid them.