TMI? Oh, yeah.

Believe it or not, today is Information Overload Day. No kidding, Honest. In fact, it’s been celebrated on October 20 every year since 2007. The premise of the observation is to call attention to the “never ending fire hose of data” we are bombarded with each day.

Information overload – the exposure to or provision of too much information or data. Ever happen to you? Come on. Admit it. It happens to me every day. Phone calls, emails, tweets, snail mail, television, radio, YouTube, Snapchat, Instagram, Internet searches, Facebook – and the list goes on, but I’m overloading so I will leave it there. You get the point.

Are there days when you just want to put your hands over your ears, close your eyes and scream, “Make it stop!”?

Information overload leads to indecisiveness, decreased productivity, lack of focus and confusion. How many of you read customer reviews when you shop online? It can get confusing to the point where sometimes you just move on because it’s too overwhelming. It’s more than the brain can handle. Ever have so much on your to-do list that you didn’t know where to begin? What did you do? Nothing, because you couldn’t focus. Something that should take maybe an hour turns into a three-hour project. As Herbert A. Simon said, “…a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention…”

There is hope and help. In his book, The Organized Mind, Daniel J. Levitin offers some tips for pushing back the flood of information and thinking straight. Here are a few.

Clear your mind. Create a list of all the bits of information running around in your head. Getting it on paper clears it from your mind. Then you can prioritize, delegate, delete and move forward.

Follow the two-minute rule. Set aside a time – maybe an hour – to deal with smaller tasks; checking email, phone calls, etc. Then do it and only it. That means eliminating distractions. For example, does that little bell ring every time you get a new email? Do you immediately feel the need to respond? That’s a distraction that takes you away from focusing on the current task. Turn the bell off! Sometimes it’s necessary to “trick” our brains to stay on track.

“Eat the frog” first thing in the morning. That means taking the most unpleasant thing to do on your schedule and getting it out of the way. Energy levels are higher in the morning and that’s a good thing when making important decisions. Besides, getting it out of the way makes the rest of the day go better.

Overloaded yet? Just kidding. Your mission today, should you accept it, is to take control of your information overload. Good luck.

Posted by MJ Thomas

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