In this article, we’re going to talk more about the problems that come along with access to too much information.
Fact: information is everywhere!
Louis Freeh a former director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation once said that, “Collecting intelligence information is like drinking water out of a fire hydrant.”
What would happen if we are overloaded?
While you’re not likely collecting intelligence while you’re searching for information, it’s an excellent analogy of what information overload is like. Most of what we consume will spill out, be missed and left unprocessed because it’s too much pressure on the brain.
One of the main symptoms of information overload is stress. It feels like your brain is being bombarded so much so that it causes you to forget things, which is what creates the stress and even compounds it.
Lack of confidence
You would think that the more knowledge you have the more confident you would be, but this isn’t always the case. When you have access to so much conflicting information, it’s hard to determine between fact or fiction therefore making it hard to choose the right course of action.
For example, there is a ton of conflicting information surrounding the Atkins diet. Some saying that it’s good for your health and others stating just as strongly that it’s bad for health. How do you know which information is right and which wrong? If you can’t figure that out how do you proceed?
This leads to lack of confidence and can cause people to not make any choices at all or even worse feeling bad about the choices they do make. Now image how that lack of confidence can impact reaching your goals. It can literally keep you from making the decisions necessary to achieve success.
It’s very important to understand that when too much information is transmitted to the brain, the person receiving it often shuts off in a way. Normally the filtering process categorizes information as important or not important, but when there is too much there is often improper filtering. This essentially means that everything processed is general and all information is the same.
Not knowing what’s right
When there’s so much information with seemingly factual studies supporting them, it’s hard to know what’s right or wrong. For example, is a Paleo diet better or a vegan diet better for weight loss and health? Which studies are right? Is there any way to know?
Feeling confused about common things
When you don’t know, what information is real and what isn’t it’s hard to determine what you should believe let alone what you can base decisions on which ultimately leads to confusion about things that you’ve generally known to be true.
Fear of change
When you can’t determine what the information you receive means, it can cause you to fear change because you don’t know if that change will be good or bad. Since information overload leads to black and white thinking, this can increase the fear of change that most people have naturally.
Avoid Multitasking and Overloading
Sometimes information overload from the feeling that you can multitask everything. Which is an extremely common side effect of today’s society. We feel as if we have to juggle everything at once just to keep up, but the truth is humans aren’t designed for multitasking. In fact, studies have shown that it can significantly reduce efficiency and performance because the human brain can only focus on one thing at a time.
If you would like to find out more about the effects of multitasking, read this article from Forbes.com about the hazards of multitasking.
Multitasking has become a way of life for many of us and goes hand-in-hand with information overload. You may not even realize you’re doing it because it becomes second nature especially if you’re a parent trying to juggle work, home and family. It’s also an extremely hard habit to break because we often feel guilty when we aren’t trying to do several things at one time.
Overcoming It: Stay Focus!
To help control the need to multitask and avoid information overload try limiting your exposure to screens if possible or at the very least try to focus on one task at a time. It’s important to avoid multitasking whenever you can especially when it comes to achieving your goals.
At first this may feel as if you’re wasting time and not getting as much done, however with practice you’ll find that you are accomplishing things in a more efficient manner. You may also notice that your thought process is clearer and your performance is enhanced.
In the next series, we will be talking more about we will be talking about how to avoid social media overload.