Community//

Are You Distressed from Information Overload?

Are you in Information Overload? I know that I am.

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Yes, I confess it. I am overloaded with information.

But I have to say that it’s not all the time. And most of the time I like where I am at with all of this new information coming at me. It creates a buzz (not an illegal buzz). It’s exhilarating. But it can also be exhausting. It’s my own responsibility to manage the information “feeders” that sometimes inundate me.

Where is it all coming from?

Back in the 60′s and 70′s, there was a promise that these “new” advances…computers, cell phones, pagers, fax machines, voice mail, answering machines, etc. were supposed to help us work more efficiently and work less. Yeah. Right.

Now we are seeing other new sources of information – Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Linkedin, and on and on (There are hundreds of social media outlets with more coming on daily it seems), the amount of information that is coming at us is increasing and accelerating. Plus work, family, friends, and others “invite” us and engage us with more and more data streams. Often we are the ones that let (or invite) more of these data streams into our lives and don’t really realize that we are doing this to ourselves.

These advancements were supposed to help us have more leisure time but in reality, all we did with the extra time we got back was fill it with even more stuff. Not leisure, but more information stuff! Always thinking we can fit in more until we are maxed out; until we are in information overload.

YEOW! When is it going to stop?

Well, I have some news for you. It’s not going to stop. It’s going to keep on accelerating and getting bigger and bigger. It’s not going to change so you will have to change.

Yes, YOU will have to change if you plan on adjusting to this information overload.

It’s all about balance.

We can’t just stop what we are doing and yet stay engaged with the world. Yes, you can decide to pack it in, unplug, get a book about eating berries, set off into the backwoods and hope that bears will see you as something other than tonight’s entree. But most of us are not going to do that.

On the other hand, balance doesn’t mean running faster and faster on the treadmill trying to keep up with everything. That won’t work any better than learning how to speak the bear language.

What we need to do is establish a balance between all of the aspects of our lives.

Work – Play – Relaxation

We need to include time and effort for our mental and physical health. That’s something that many of us stop caring about long before we stop caring about our smartphone or Twitter account.

Balance – especially for women professionals!

“Make sure that the first person you serve is always yourself because that is the only way you will truly help others.”

Chiara Condi (from the interview session with MAAM)

For those of you who know me, you know that I have a hard time myself creating this balance. But balance is becoming more and more important to me. I know that I need to work on that balance for a longer, healthier and more fulfilled life. It’s not like my life is totally out of balance, but it’s not where I want it to be…

Balance in your life is an individual trait and decision. What is in balance for one person probably won’t be for another. Someone might need 8 hours of sleep a day…others may go sleep crazy for 9-to-11 hours. The waterbed mattresses can allow you a better sleep by reducing the pressure points on your body. It also depends on other factors:

The difference in exercise. The difference in responsibilities. Differences in the initiative. Differences in the drive. Differences in life goals. Differences in everything.

Perhaps, stress is a common metric for determining balance. The amount of stress you have from the information that you are receiving on a daily basis can help you gauge how overloaded you are.

Do an information audit

One way of changing habits and dealing with information overload is a habit. Create an audit of what you are doing. And why you are doing it. And if it’s important to you.

You can design the audit in any way you want. Create a daily calendar with 10-minute time slots that you record what you are doing or perhaps keep it more fluid where you document what you are doing on a yellow pad, filling the pad as you go through the day.

But the important thing is to record what you are doing with the time spent doing it. And WHY you are doing it. And if it’s really important. And how much it’s contributing to your overall information overload and stress level.

By doing this for a couple of days, you can objectively see where all this information is coming from. Where the stress is building from? That’s the first step of helping control and potentially eliminate it.

Do you spend 90 minutes a day on twitter looking at what some dope at the other end is saying about his pet chicken? How about spending 2 hours on Facebook looking at what people are having for dinner in Paris, people you probably don’t even know! Maybe it’s watching TV or listening to radio where the same news is being replayed for the 4th time. Watching re-runs of somebody cooking? Or somebody dancing around? Maybe it’s doing other activities that do nothing more than burn up time in your life.

Think about it.

Compared to 5 or 10 years ago, how much time are you spending on things that are really dumb? Watching dogs dancing the Mexican hat dance on YouTube? Or sliding downstairs while they sleep. And let’s face it! If you never saw or heard about the Kardashians again, wouldn’t that be a GOOD thing? Is THIS is the kind of stuff that you are getting stressed over?

Well, it shouldn’t be. If it is, we have just let ourselves slide into the bad habit of consuming our life with useless activities. We should save our “stress reserve” for really important things. Not from dumb, useless information overload. It’s time we realize that.

And it’s time to change.

Do your audit. Look at what you are spending your time on. Prune out those things that are not helping you. Dump those things that are causing you needless stress. Free up time for yourself and prune out needless information that only causes stress. Needless stress!

And take the time that you free up and do something really constructive.

Unplug from your information sources then.

  • Take a walk.
  • Take a nap.
  • Have a leisurely cup of coffee or glass of wine with a friend, and just talk.
  • Lay down in the green grass and think about how it feels.
  • Enjoy the feeling of the sun on your face.
  • Look at the stars.
  • Close your eyes and think. About good things or about nothing!

Identify your information overload. Attack it. And drive it out of your life.

What do you think?

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