Coping with Information Overload
“Most information is time-consuming, negative, irrelevant to your goals, and outside of your influence. I challenge you to look at whatever you read or watched today and tell me that it wasn’t at least two of the four.”
- Tim Ferriss, 4-Hour Workweek
We live in interesting times. Never before in history did an average person have access to so much information at their fingertips. And yet, never before have people been so ignorant.
Consider this: two-thirds of American Millennials surveyed in a recent poll did not know what Auschwitz was! But ask them about pop singer Taylor Swift and her dating history, and you’d be surprised at how much they know about such trivial things! The young people of today have grown up on smartphones, internet, Google, and the social media. But as a study by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) revealed, adults in the UK aged 55-to-65 performed better in literacy and math compared to those aged 16-to-24.
Evidently, having access to too much information does not necessarily make you smarter. Today, in the post-iPhone era, we are flooded with a flood of information that is not necessarily vital to us, and because of that, we are missing out a lot of information that might actually be relevant to us.
Most of us have short attention spans; can barely focus on one thing for more than 5 minutes at a time, and can’t take eyes off the smartphone or keep off Facebook or Twitter even if our life depended on it! #JustBeingHonest!
Tim Ferriss, who is a very popular self-help writer with young people around the world, has spoken about this at length in his famous book, The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere and Join the New Rich.
Ferriss reveals in the book and the podcasts based on the ideas from his book that he has never read a newspaper in years. He has never watched CNN, BBC, FOX News or MSNBC, never read a political blog or used the social media for any reason other than strictly for business or interacting with friends and family.
He stays completely away from the political cycle, daily outrages that we see on Twitter and elsewhere. According to Tim, information overload is any information that is outside of your influence, and which you cannot control; which is negative or time-consuming and can do nothing to advance your goals. Makes sense, doesn’t it?
I mean, what difference does it make to your life what Kanye West’s thoughts on politics are, who Prince Harry is getting married to or how much money Jeff Bezos made recently?
Take a break from the constant news cycle and simplify your life. Take steps to cope with information overload before it consumes you totally.
Re-take control of your life, don’t be a slave to the media and never let the social media control your thoughts. Cut back your exposure to the media, and use the social media only to interact with friends and family – certainly not to waste time outraging on Twitter over things that have nothing to do with you!
Only seek out information that is important, relevant to what you do and adds value to your life. Avoid getting distracted and stop interacting with anyone who brings negativity into your life.
Learn to focus. Stop multitasking and do only one thing at a time. Stop checking your smartphone and surfing the internet when you are at work.
Always make time to go on a quick morning run every day and have a healthy, wholesome breakfast after that– that should clear up your mind and keep you focused and sharp for the rest of the day.
Learn to relax, take off weekends, spend time with your family, go on an excursion to a national park or just sweat it out at the gym.
Remember: Most of the real problems this world has had over the centuries have been solved – disease, poverty, hunger, and war. You are truly blessed to be living in this day and age. Make the most of your life and stop wasting time and energy over the non-essential. Use technology, but for the right reasons, which take you further to your goals. Good luck!