Each day, we’re bombarded with information. Modern societies live quickly and actively; as such, people feel constant pressure to be up to date with anything that’s going on around them. Information overload happens regardless of our environment, be it at work, school, or home.
If you feel you can’t get a break from all the updates and notifications, you’re not alone. However, if you’re really struggling to keep up with the information flow, it’s a sign that you need to change your approach. Fortunately, there are some habits you can try to introduce to your routine if you want to deal better with constant information overload and learn how to reduce it. Keep on reading to find out more!
Identify Your Sources
The first step to dealing with information overload is to learn what your sources are. At work, you can expect email notifications, reports, direct messages, project management, other enterprise management software, and reading material, both digital and traditional. If you’re relaxing at home, you may have to deal with notifications coming from social media, background noise from your TV, radio, audiobook services, and maybe some requests from your family members.
More often than not, these pieces of information are fighting for your attention all at once. That’s why it’s important to stop for a moment and reflect on your sources. You may be wondering: “What is Audible, and why is my TV running at the same time?” Or maybe something like this: “I need to check these emails, why do I keep lurking in a group chat?” Once you figure out the sources of information, you can start taking control over them and direct your attention where it needs to be.
Prioritize the Information
Now’s the time to filter the incoming information and prioritize it. Try to figure out what’s more urgent: an email from a client or a funny picture your colleague sent you? Your audiobook’s storyline or a random advertisement on the radio?
A good rule of thumb is to categorize information coming your way. If you’re at work, focus on work-related things first, then move on to entertainment or social aspects. At home, concentrate on your task at hand and avoid doing many things at once. This way, you’ll be more productive, and you won’t fall behind on your responsibilities.
Take Time to Review It
With all the information you’re collecting, you need to make time actually to see what you’re receiving. The more information you get, the more time you’ll have to take to review it all. However, you don’t have to check everything as soon as a notification pops up. Once you’ve figured out your sources and categorized the data, dedicate some time to review it and do it responsibly.
Consider managing your time in such a way that will allow you to go through specific categories in a certain order. If something is more urgent, don’t waste your attention on things that are unnecessary at the moment. Avoid jumping between different categories – it’s your best bet to reduce information overload.
Delete It or Act on It
When you’re done with reviewing any piece of information, decide what to do with it. Some things can be viewed, read, or listened to once without saving or reacting to them, and you can move on to the next one. If it’s a text message, a picture, or an unimportant email, feel free to delete it to free up space on your device and avoid overloading your mailbox.
However, if the piece of information you received requires your response, act on it. Figure out what you need to do and when, and plan your schedule accordingly. If you can deal with something right away, do it; just don’t forget to move on to other tasks that need your attention later.
Limit Your Distractions
People like being surrounded by information and data. After all, FOMO didn’t come from anywhere. However, it’s crucial to know when and where to set the limits. Otherwise, you may get lost in all the information that keeps coming from many directions at once.
Once you’ve reviewed the information at hand and planned what to do with it, it’s time to give yourself a break and focus on your tasks. You don’t have to check all notifications as soon as they pop up. Try to put your phone away, close the tabs on your devices, log out of your mailbox, turn the radio or audiobook off. Enjoy your time free from digital distractions, and after your break is over, repeat the whole process without pressure or guilt.
The Bottom Line
People struggle with information overload more often than they care to admit. It’s a common problem that affects the majority of us, regardless of age. If you feel the same way and are tired of not getting things under control, don’t worry. You can help yourself, and the best thing you can do is to be aware and make conscious decisions.
The steps mentioned above can possibly allow you to regain control over the information flow. Feel free to try them all out and add additional strategies or solutions if you think something else may help you. Ultimately, when you manage to find out what works for you and make it your habit, you’ll be able to conquer information overload like a pro.