Information Overload: The Power Of Knowledge Can Be Too Powerful To Handle At Times!
“Where is the Life we have lost in living? Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?”
(American born Playwright, Poet and Critic)
What is Information Overload?
Imagine the level of information your brain holds for you. Consider everything that you know. Starting from the primary levels of education in your beginning school to your highest degree or certification, the amount of information your brain holds for you can sometimes match some of the ultra powerful databases. But this is only formal education that we have considered!
Now look at the other side. Constantly, your brain has imbibed information since the day you were born. Experts suggest that this information is never erased from your brain. If you can learn the art of mind control efficiently, then you can recall each and every event in your life, every line or sentence that you have read, and even remember the smell of the food that you tasted for the first time in your life.
And we are still cramming information into our brain each day. This is natural, with the phone numbers, the website URLs, the text messages, your favorite songs or the TV series, the notes from your college or university, social media sites over the internet, RSS feeds, and much more, coming your way almost every minute.
What does all this result in?
But How does Information Overload Affect Us?
There are many ways in which information overload can turn out to become a problem for us. Look at some the most commonly observed results by behavioral experts:
- Psychological Effects on your Mind that Slow you Down:
Mental tiredness, loss of memory, inability to recall recent events, lack of concentration, lack of focus, irritability, and a host of other psychological problems can result from information overload.
- Professional Arena:
Information overload affects your professional life as well. You display lower productivity and inefficiency at work, make silly mistakes with your job, get tired and frustrated easily, and prove to be a burden on your colleagues at times.
- Incorrect Use of Information:
It is often a very common thing to see people making the mistake of using the wrong information at the wrong places. This is another result of information overload and can often lead to serious problems.
- Addiction to the Internet:
With the internet acting as a universal knowledge-base, people have become highly addicted to it. This has resulted in the internet becoming a highly desirable tool for marketing. At the same time, there are a huge number of self proclaimed gurus online, who often turn out to be absolute con men!
- Staying Ahead of Your Peers on the Social Media Sites:
With every one of your friends on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, Blogger, etc, it becomes a challenge to be on each of those sites yourself, and connect with the maximum number of friends. The more friends you have on your blog and the more RSS feeds you subscribe to, the more popular you are. Consider gadgets like Blackberry and the other smart phones that let you stay online 24×7! These too leads to information overload.
- Loss in Revenue for Businesses:
Often companies and organizations lose hundreds of dollars because of information overload when they are not able to manage the information efficiently. Striving towards getting more information often causes misuse of data, and the money spent in gathering the data in turn is seen to be a complete waste.
The year 2008 alone saw around 1 billion dollars of productivity loss in the US due to information overload!
- (BASEX 2008)
The Chief Causes of Information Overload?
Information overload is an issue that has is seen due to a number of reasons. Let us look at the most common reasons that have resulted in it being a major issue for us today.
1. TV Channels
2. Offline free publications in your mailboxes
3. Mobility of services – like mobile internet
4. Mobile phone services like Texting
5. Websites, blogs, forums and community sites
6. RSS subscriptions
7. Marketing media
8. Education and training
9. Technology leading to globalization
10. Business Competition
All these reasons have greatly affected the present day world, resulting in our brains often getting crammed up with unimportant information, reducing productivity and efficiency for us, and hampering our health to a great extent.
“Information is a source of learning. But unless it is organized, processed, and available to the right people in a format for decision making, it is a burden, not a benefit.”
- William Pollard
There are a Number of Ways to Curb this Issue with Information Overload
1. Learn to Recognize
One of the most important points to consider with information overload is to understand the authenticity of information that comes your way. For example, when you are online you will come across the self proclaimed gurus who would want to provide you with readily available free information that might be totally unimportant.
It is very important for you to be able to determine the authenticity of the people you come across online. Pay heed to only authentic information instead of believing each and every person that comes your way. This can prevent a lot of unwanted and incorrect information from causing burden for your brain.
2. Learn to Filter
Use effective measures for filtering unwanted information out to prevent Information overload. Unsubscribe from unwanted newsletters, blogs and community sites. Don’t give out your personal information easily or let businesses and sites add you on their mailing lists. Try to be very choosy about the sites and the people you are dealing with online and over the phone.
3. Discipline and Proper Scheduling
This is an important point to consider as well. You must discipline yourself with the information that you access through each day to prevent information overload on your brain. Try to avoid watching too much television for a start. Whenever you feel like there is some information coming your way that you may do without, avoid it. You have to discipline yourself with regards to the amount of information that you expose yourself to.
It is a good idea to maintain a schedule every month as to what your targets are and follow up on it efficiently. This will restrict you from trying to get too much done and venture into too many things. This needs a fair bit of discipline on your part to enjoy the full advantage of this.
4. Proper Planning
Even when you are looking at staying ahead of your competition in the market, you have to be very clear with how you are going to go for it. If you try to stay ahead of each and every trend in your business, you might end up being unable to achieve anything of significant value. Hence try to set your goals, and plan accordingly.
Even when you are looking at acquiring new skills and information on better systems for your business, you must go about doing it step by step. Don’t try to achieve too many things too quickly. This will make it too tough to manage and you will not be able to concentrate on anything properly. This generally causes undue stress and tension for you, lowering your productivity.
5. Sleep, Rest and Meditate
One of the strongest medicines for getting rid of information overload is through proper rest and meditation. This always calms down your mind, and helps it to be able to organize and manage information more efficiently. Enough sleep and rest can reduce the anxiety and irritability that is often a very pronounced result of information overload.
The Final Word with Information Overload
As we have seen, information overload has proved to be a major issue in a number of cases. Most of us suffer from this at some point of time or the other, and blame technology and internet for being the chief cause for this. However, it becomes important for us to consider the fact that while technology can be a major reason for information overload, it is on us whether we want to be a victim of this problem or not.
Technology and the internet have a huge scope of options for us. Consider walking into a huge supermarket. There is going to be hundreds of products, offers and items for you to look at, and you can spend hours just looking at the products on display without really purchasing anything. When you finally walk out, you might not have purchased even a single item. So you have spent time to return you nothing.
The internet is nothing but a supermarket. There are millions of sites on it offering you with a never-ending database of information. There are offers, knowledgebase articles, games, movies, videos, music, news articles, and everything else that you might want to learn about. And companies want you to look at their sites to get more site traffic.
Advertisers and promotional agencies make the internet even more compelling and addictive for its target audience, making it harder for you to get off it. So, the onus is on you as to how you are going to discipline yourself and recognize what is it that is important enough for you time on the internet. Use the internet to your advantage – don’t let the agencies over the internet take the advantage of you!
We are currently living in a world where information can travel across the globe in seconds and disseminated for free. It is for you to decide how much of it is useful for you and whether it makes adds value to whatever you are involved in. “Necessity is the mother of invention”, which means technology was designed to help us. Try to focus on the information that you require instead of going for whatever you can get hold of, just because its available.
“Books like friends should be few and well chosen” and the same holds true for all the social networking websites, portals and the offline media which are overwhelming us with information but might not be adding any significant value to our overall growth and well being.
“Knowing a great deal is not the same as being smart; intelligence is not information alone but also judgment, the manner in which information is collected and used”
- Dr. Carl Sagan
(American Astronomer and Scientist)