Information Overload

This is the first week I ever remember having trouble sitting down to write. I suppose it’s bound to happen. It’s not for a lack of ideas; I have plenty. Every topic just seems a little meh, so I’m not excited about any of them right now. I’m attributing it to information overload.

What is information overload?

Technically, information overload is defined as “what occurs when the amount of input to a system exceeds its processing capacity. Decision makers have fairly limited cognitive processing capacity. Consequently, when information overload occurs, it is likely that a reduction in decision quality will occur.” Source

Earlier this week, I blamed information overload for my inability to fall asleep one night and for feeling physically and mentally drained the day after. I can’t point to any one thing that put me over the edge. I just know it happened.

It’s no wonder

With everything coming at us today, why should I be surprised by this? But I’m not working anymore. Shouldn’t that make a difference? It doesn’t make a difference, as it doesn’t matter what kind of information it is – at least for me.

I finally cleaned up my email inbox. I had over 1300 emails that I let accumulate over two weeks. I deleted most of them without even reading them. Why? They’re the digital equivalent of junk mail.

The problem is, there might be something important buried in all that junk. Like the credit card statement notification I missed. Ooops!! Fortunately, it was with Von Maur who doesn’t charge interest. Whew!

With TV, Facebook, email and everything else we check every day, there’s sometimes more than my brain can handle. I just know I’m missing some great TV show, but with all the channels and all the new shows all the time, how do I keep up?

I’m even bombarded with text messages from Pier 1 and Jersey Mike’s. I know, I could opt out, but again, what if I missed a great deal?

My latest source of information overload

I started using Instagram last May, thinking it would help me market my blog. It hasn’t done much for that, but it has introduced me to a whole new world of cross stitchers, knitters, and other crafters.

This new source of information has been inspiring but often overwhelming. Oh, I love that pattern, how can I get it? I better get it right now or I won’t be able to find it. Or, I’ll forget how much I loved it. Where do I find it? Should I make it as a gift? Christmas? Birthday? How much time do I have?

It’s so easy to get caught up in all the users and hashtags. Boy, are there a lot of hashtags. And the more I follow, the more people and hashtags I discover, which leads to even more “follows“. But how do I stop?

Even Tim, who just started using Instagram last month is already lamenting the deluge of information. What starts out as fun can quickly become a chore.

Cutting back

According to the same article I quoted above, these are some things I could do to make it better.

  • Feel free to ignore information. I like to think I’m already doing some of this. I delete emails without reading them. I only check social media a few times a day. I don’t try to check out every TV show or movie suggestion that comes my way.
  • Feel free to take action without all the facts. In my case, there’s nothing I would lose by doing this. Sure, I may miss the “perfect” pattern but there will always be another one when my brain is ready for it. That will also mean saying “not now” when I see one more potential project.
  • Create an information queue and tackle it on a regular basis. I definitely do this, but even then, it can seem overwhelming. Since I added Instagram to my daily routine, I spend less time on Pinterest.
  • Filter information ruthlessly. Not so good with this. I have tried to unsubscribe from a few blogs or company emails, but that hasn’t made much of a dent in the information I’m exposed to every day.
  • Delegate information responsibilities. This applies more to a work environment, although I could delegate some to my husband. Maybe the bill paying? Nope, not gonna do that.
  • Learn to skim. This I definitely do. Even though I let my email Inbox accumulate, I skim it every day for those I care about. However, something is bound to miss my attention.

How do I get out of this?

I’m going to blame this week’s lack of motivation on the NCAA basketball tournament. I try to watch as much as I can now that I’m retired and have all day. But it also meant other things wouldn’t get done which I tend to let weigh on my mind. This then makes me dysfunctional and I end up getting very little accomplished.

Next week, I’ll have a more realistic plan. There will still be basketball, but I’ll try to get more done earlier in the week.

This is all good, but it doesn’t address the information overload, does it? Hmm, I haven’t quite figured that one out yet. I’d like to think some of it is my age. You know, there’s only so much room in my 62 (almost 63) year old brain which is already full of valuable information!! Ha!!

I need to remember this:

Author/Copyright holder: Brian Solis. Copyright terms and licence: CC BY 2.0

So, I’ll make a choice to ignore what doesn’t matter and focus on the moment. I’ll be both productive and happy.

I have to think many of you experience the same thing, at least occassionally. I just hope when you decide what to ignore, it isn’t my blog!!

6 thoughts on “Information Overload”

  1. Oh my can I ever relate to information overload! My e-mail in box is overwhelming and I have my business and personal e-mail to deal with!
    Basically when I need downtime…no tv..Sometimes put on some favorite music…meditate on scripture…prayer and some relaxing crocheting (which I love). It pulls me out every time and then I can go back out there. Thank you for a great blog!

    1. Thanks Marisa. I’m glad you found something to help you cope with the overload. Unfortunately, I don’t think it’s going away so we each have to learn how to handle it and move on. Thanks for continuing to read my blog!!!

  2. I get a ton of email and trying to unsubscribe to things hasn’t really worked. I like the thought “I may miss the perfect pattern but there will always be another one when my brain is ready for it”! I’m going to use that thought about lots of stuff – like the perfect lamp, perfect sundress, perfect vacation, or anything else I’m looking for….and just delete all the sites unread until I am ready to really buy/do/plan something. Do it on my schedule, not their’s and hope that there is a sale going on when I’m ready to do it!

    1. I’m glad I could provide something useful, Pat!! And I think it’s a good idea to apply that to every decision we’re making. I’m also very behind in my magazine reading. I may just throw them all in the recycling bin and start from scratch. Looking at them makes me a little crazy!!

  3. I can relate to this blog 100 percent. There are so many sources of information that too often the really important stuff gets buried in the inconsequential stuff. I don’t have any answer, but you are not alone! If you figure it out, let me know!

    1. Thanks Christie. I assumed others might experience this as well. Having access to so much information is both good and bad. I hope I can get a handle on it and avoid going crazy!! 😜🤪

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