You have the same number of hours as Bill Gates but he’s off making billions and well you, you’re yet to reach your acme of success.
I know so many hardworking people who burn the midnight oil, put in hours of work but if you were to quantify their result it does not even come close to half the amount of effort they put in.
And a major reason for that could be: Information Overload
What is Information overload?
The term is pretty straightforward. Information overload is when the amount of information you are presented with exceeds your brain’s ability to process and apply them.
A good example of this is the internet. Run a random search for ‘how to train your dog’ and you have thousands of site links popping up.Since people’s requirements vary, a diverse set of information can help.
But where ten pages of training manual is pitted against a simple one paragraph technique, you are bound to get confused and unable to draw concrete conclusions from more information.
Difference between Information Overload and Sensory Overload
A lot of people confuse information overload with sensory overload.
While being bombarded with information and trying to process the lot might be taxing on the brain, it is mainly your thoughts that go into an overdrive.
Sensory overload is when your senses go into an overdrive. Like when you suddenly see a bright light or smell and taste a delicious and aromatic food.
And although our brains have evolved to deal with sensory overload, it’s still taking its time with processing larger and disparate chunks of information.
To get to basic analysis, most people would say it isn’t information overload that hinders productivity but a lack of time.
Well true that. If you have 1 month to go through all the important information, you can take better more informed decisions. But usually people don’t have that time in this fast-paced life.
That is especially if you need to cull important points from all that information for a time sensitive project.
The one-click access and instant e-mail takes your focus away from your current task.
When bombarded with information that may or may not be related to your task at hand, you end up spending more productive time processing and analyzing them than taking decisions.
52% of US employees agree that the quality of their work dwindles because they cannot process and apply important information that they need quickly.
And while at the end of the day it’s what you achieved that matters rather than the number of hours you put in, that’s how information overload kills productivity by taking away time you could have otherwise employed to gain substantial results.
How to avoid Information Overload
Have a specific To-Do list– The best time to formulate your To-Do list is the night before. Psychologically speaking when you know what your next day’s tasks are, you are in a better position to plan out your day.
Plus it keeps your mornings free for a healthy breakfast or a workout, instead of you having to sit down munching on cereals and drawing up your To-Do list.
Prioritize – Understand that you cannot do everything in one day. Whether it is writing your book or cleaning the house, don’t just plan out your tasks prioritize them.
Organizing tasks by importance will keep your subconscious mind geared up to the important things that need to be done.
So even if you want to bite off more than you can chew in terms of information, somewhere at the back of your mind you know that you have important stuff to finish before the day gets over.
Attach a deadline to each task – Coupled with prioritizing, when you put up a time limit next to each task, your subconscious mind – and some help from your To-Do list on display – will remind you of what needs to be done. And within what time frame.
Turn off e-mail notifications – That new e-mail chime is guaranteed to take your mind off your current task.
And before you know it you are crafting a reply, messaging back and then they reply and then you message back. Productivity killer!
Instead you should just check your mail twice a day. And once your work hours are over, switch your e-mails off.
Queue tasks aside for later–Being informed isn’t a bad thing. You might come across a helpful article or video that can help with being productive.
Put this aside for later, apps like Pocket.com helps you to store important information for later.
Meditate – To strengthen your brains ability to process information quickly, you need to increase your concentration power. And a sure-shot way to do that is through meditating.
Also when you meditate your brain is in a calmer state and all that random information bombarding through your mind can finally settle down as silt sinking down to the bottom of the lake leaving clear water on top.
And if you are a perfectionist who finds it difficult to shrug things off, make sure you concentrate on only one task first. If you are bothered by other nagging thoughts, instead of telling yourself ignore it, tell yourself ‘focus on this task’ the task being the meditation process at hand.
Also remember when you’re in an information overload state, you need to be your best judge and choose which information kills productivity and which enhance it.