The Age of Information Overload.

Apr 17, 2022

Be it Google, YouTube, Twitter, or any other platform the users are constantly greeted with tons of information, and content which in a way can prove to be very dangerous as it confuses people with an overwhelming number of options and content to consume.

Daniel Levitin, McGill University psychology professor and author of “The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload.”

He says that "I’ve read estimates there were 30 exabytes of information 10 years ago and today, there’s 300 exabytes of information" which means we've created more information in the last 10 years than in all of human history before that.

All this information is more than what our brain could handle. Normally, the conscious mind can pay attention to three, or maybe four things at once.
Beyond that we tend to make poorer decisions, we lose track of things and lose our focus too.

Eight Actionable steps to overcome Information Overload

  1. Limit your distractions.
  2. Don't multi-task.
  3. Batch together similar tasks.
  4. Try the Two-minute Rule.
  5. Do a Brain Dump.
  6. "Eat the frog" the first thing in the morning.
  7. Take breaks.
  8. Let yourself Daydream.

1. Limit your distractions.

Distractions are the only things that stop us from doing what we should be doing.
You can limit your distractions by:

  1. Turning off the notifications of all the unnecessary apps.
  2. Adding time limit to the applications and websites.
  3. Block the websites on your laptop during your work hours.
  4. Have an accountability partner to track your progress.
  5. Reward yourself with distractions only after doing the work.

2. Don't multi-task.

Multitasking is even more of a detriment to memory and our ability to concentrate than the smoking pot is to our memory.

When we try to work on multiple tasks our brain requires more "oxygenated glucose" the very fuel that we need to focus on a task. Switching between these tasks can make us more exhausted, anxious, and disoriented.

Whereas, if we focus on only a single task which I call "the central executive mode" requires less energy and reduces the brain's need for glucose.

💡
Multi-tasking/context-switching is the biggest productivity killer.

3. Batch together similar tasks.

Batching all the similar-tasks proves to be a highly effective method to follow when you have so much work to get done and are unable to focus.

For e.g : If you are a video-creator then try to schedule all your filming work for a particular day/time in a week and all the scripting, and editing for another fixed day/time of that week.

This helps you in getting into the flow of doing  and  you do the same things with much ease, in less amount of time.

Doing so won't get you quickly exhausted as compared to constantly switching between multiple tasks/projects.

4. Try the Two-minute Rule.

This is a legit working method/rule that I stick to i.e I try to do a work immediately if it takes 2-minutes or less.

For e.g: attending quick phone calls, emails, messages, doing laundry, washing the dishes etc.

5. Do a Brain Dump.

It simply means to get things out of your head.
You can clear your mind by putting your thoughts/ pending tasks on a piece of paper.

Writing down all the thoughts that aren't allowing you to focus can help you get back your focus and gives you more clarity on whatto do and prevents you from worrying about the future.

It also gives permission to your mind to “relax its neural circuits so that we can focus on something else.”  

Try to categorize those tasks as:
Urgent, Important, TimeTaking and based on your prioties do the next task and focus only on that one thing that you are doing at that moment.

6. "Eat the frog" the first thing in the morning.

“If it's your job to eat a frog, it's best to do it first thing in the morning. And If it's your job to eat two frogs, it's best to eat the biggest one first.”

This simply means that, if you have multiple tasks then try to prioritise in-order of most important to the least important and it is advised to start your day with the most important task or the task that requires highest of your focus and mental energy.

Simply have a highlight of the day, which is very important for that day and rest all other tasks can be skipped/ignored for that day.

7. Take breaks.

Taking a 15-min break every couple of hours will make you much more efficient in the long run and also it'll help your brain refresh i.e acts like a reset button in a part of your brain called insula.

So always try to take a break, a nap, or a quick-walk to increase your focus and also boost your creativity.

8. Let yourself Daydream.

Our brain works mainly in two modes:
1. Pilot mode: where we control, direct our thoughts.
2. Passenger mode: where our thoughts take over and run themselves.

The Pilot mode helps our brain focus on single task and allows us to easily get our work done.

The Passenger mode a.k.a Daydream mode is where one thought melds into the another and they aren't necessarily related, this helps in fostering our creativity and gives our brain new ways to think and innovate and even unlocks new solutions, pathways to a problem by creating links between different things which we might have never seen as linked before.

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