10 Ways to Manage Information Overload
News, comments, likes. We don’t look for it; it now comes to us. At no point in human history has there been a time when we feel the ubiquity of information engulfing us quite like the present era. As suggested by McLuhan, our mobiles act like the extension of our hands, digitally connecting us to the world. Perhaps too much. How do we gain some control over the information overload? Ten suggestions.
Take time off
Vacation is one way to manage information overload. (To handle everything time off related in the workplace, have your HR department try our app.) But to completely tune out and experience a real break once in a while, to turn everything off – television, radio, streaming services, etc. while on vacation.
How many email accounts do you have? Do you actively use them all? Email and other online accounts create more channels exposing you to even more information. Newsletters, subscriptions, promotion alerts… do you really need all these incoming emails? Eliminate the cyber junk and spam that pile up and take up your time managing information overload. Do so with a simple question: do I really need to know this? No? Delete. Unsubscribe. Feel better.
The same goes for the types of notifications you want to receive and their frequency on your work platforms, subscriptions, and social media accounts. Can you wait until Monday to read your work-related updates? Do you really have to know as soon as so-and-so posts a photo on IG? Can you picture your life fulfilled even though you haven’t followed a celebrity’s tweets for a day? Value your time, decide where to direct your attention, and manage information overload by carefully setting up your alerts and notifications.
Apps to curb smartphone addiction
Another way to remedy and manage information overload is to use apps designed to control the amount of time spent on electronic devices. Ironic to use your phone to not use your phone, but might as well do the trick. Apps like Flipd and OFFTIME are opportunities to unplug from social media distractions and other influx of information. In identifying exactly where and how long you spend time on online activities, you learn how and when to cut back.
Go for a walk
The benefits of walking (without information display devices) are underrated. Step by step, step closer to preventing many diseases and cancers and injuries and risks of obesity and stress. Walking (on sunshine!) boosts your mood, serenity, immunity, and memory. Walking is the best time to free your mind and problem solve. Who knows, you might have a brilliant epiphany on your next stroll!
It’s a Japanese form of mindfulness therapy in which you immerse yourself in a forest or any natural environment to restore your physical and mental well-being. Take an hour or two away from the busy streets of your city and wander about the luscious nature. Look up, look around, and take in the beauty.
Eyes off the screen
Our eyes deal with screens all the time. Think about it; if you work in an office, or take online classes, or shop, or order at a restaurant, or commute, or play, or relax, or chat, all we do is switch our attention between screens of various sizes. Yet it’s doubtful that our eyes are designed to stare at a rectangle beaming light for twelve hours a day, every day. Think about how to enjoy some activities without the screen.
When was the last time you remember spending time by yourself doing nothing, just standing still, gazing into the void, absent-minded, free of outside noises and gadgets, even for only a minute? Sure, boredom is no fun, but it might be just the break you need from the flood of head-spinning nonstop information. Close your eyes. Breathe in. And out. Look out the window. If you have the luxury to afford it, spend a day off without a timepiece.
Leave the phone behind
Sounds extreme. Practicing leaving home without a phone on your person will force you to examine the “relationship” with your phone and your interaction with it. If you are heading out for a quick errand, within walking distance, do you really need to bring your phone? If you are going for a jog, were you planning to multitask by catching up on the news while exercising? Do you need your phone at the table while eating?
Switch back to the dumbphone
Sounds also extreme, but so is phone addiction. Flip phones have been a trend for a few years now to address the very information overload. Reversing back to the basics is a great way to disconnect while keeping the essentials intact, like contacts and emergency calls.
Shirley is a Vacation Tracker occasional contributor. She’s held a few positions in communications, marketing and copywriting. When she’s not at her laptop, you can find her daydreaming about her laptop and chasing the sun while people watching.