How much information can your attention handle in this day and age?
We are always curious. Modern-day people are constantly in the lookout for what’s happening in the world, and thanks to the internet and mobile devices, we have access to a vast wealth of information right at our fingertips. But undoubtedly, there are just too many materials and ideas to read about that we tend to fall prey to information overload, which leaves us overwhelmed, confused, and sometimes, stressed out, without knowing it. So how do we now handle this situation when we’re at work or just when we’re idly surfing the net in our downtime? By simply observing these pointers, we can learn to get by with just what we need without racking our brains and ending up burned out.
Focus only on what you need
It’s not true that we’re slaves to a seemingly endless barrage of information. What is true is that we do have a choice as to which information would merit our attention. It would be to our great advantage if we start taking stock of what keeps us occupied on a daily and weekly basis and see how much time we’re putting into the things that we do. Identify the areas when you can minimize unnecessary information intake like too much social media, emails, and other information feeds. You need not go into every review, commentary, or news which would only serve to clutter your mind. We suggest that you put a limit on time spent doing your reading or social media lurking and devote more time to do productive tasks.
Check your source of information
You have the power to decide which sources are worth your while. Be more critical and discerning when it comes to paying attention to what you read about. Gossips, speculations, and other trivial information are simply time-wasters and cloud only your judgment. You need to discriminate between those that would be useful to your work or personal needs and those that should be dismissed right away. This is a sure-fire way to prevent information overload and be assured of getting ideas that only matter.
Let your contacts know your rule
You have to employ your own rule and system in sending and receiving information. Specifically, you can have a self-imposed schedule in answering emails and adopting filters that would work well for your email management. In this way, your contacts would not expect you to respond right away in the same manner that you would not feel pressure to read and act on every message you receive as it comes. The rule should also apply to how you manage your social media accounts.
Avoid unnecessary interruptions
When we don’t set up rules and boundaries, we may fall into the trap of not being able to control our impulse to open an email or react to a message to the detriment of more important tasks that need to be done. Push notifications and alerts are classic examples of interruptions that we may find hard to ignore. The best way to deal with these things is to limit or schedule the time that you get them, or apply whatever filter is available to lessen the interruptions.
If you can help it, focus your attention on one information or task at a time. Having more than one task to handle spells inefficiency and possible inaccuracy, and you wouldn’t want that, of course. Multi-tasking contributes a lot to information overload that will result in decreased productivity and concentration. Rather than get many things done, you will likely end up doing nothing or sacrifice quality.
Give yourself time to rest a bit and take a breather. Stop to eat, take a stroll or do any other relaxing activity to take your mind off loads of information or task temporarily. When you do this, you not only refresh your mind and body, but you also get to return to what you’re doing with more energy and mindfulness.
Remember, you don’t have to bombard yourself with as much information available as possible. You need to train yourself to take in only what you need at any given time. Once this happens, you let yourself be in control of the situation and do not let the information control you.