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In a world full of information we seem to be constantly toggling between managing all the new impressions we get on a daily basis and feeling totally overwhelmed by information overload. With the arrival of the Internet we were told that things would become easier – less paper clutter to worry about and more time to enjoy life.

But this isn’t so, as we’ve all found out in recent years. Paper clutter en masse, email inboxes bursting with unanswered mails, tasks pending for the sheer pressure of having too much to do – you name it, it has all become part of our reality.

Modern technology is the cause of all (evil)

Since the invention of the Internet, we have to deal with a lot more information than ever before. One reason is the need to keep backup files of everything. After all, we think, when our hard drive crashes we have nothing left. So we create masses of duplicate copy to be sure “just in case”. Also the readiness of information is mind numbing at times. We feel overwhelmed with where to look and what to do. So on we go on with the quest of finding success nirvana, only to turn in circles.

Modern life has also brought a never ending influx of choices like private TV channel subscriptions, TV gaming, SMS, mobile phones, RSS subscriptions, a never-ending stream of offline and online publications, our favorite blogs and websites, and more.

Despite their intentions, these inventions have not just served to make life easier. The irony here is that they have actually made life harder — creating information overload and the added pressure of being reachable 24/7.

Gone are the days when I was a little girl waiting for a great book to be published or channel surfing the 5 or so TV channels we had in those days. Back then we weren’t ruled by information at all. It was actually a lot harder to come by information which gave us plenty of breathing space.

Dealing with information overload has become a by-product of living in a digital age and the problem won’t go away fast.

However, I have found simple ways to help me keep control on my information intake. It is the only way for me to deal with this, otherwise I would go mental.

Data control and how you can master it

To take control of the influx of constant data that enters your life, you can do several things. These are all easy to implement and will make a huge difference in how you deal with the information that enters your mind.

Much like a computer, we only have space for so much, until our own hard drive (mind) starts to act up. If it is overloaded, then our system management will shut down one by one until…

Take these action steps to deal with information overload:

  • Email: Since most of us are using the Internet, we will need to take measures to get back in control. To start with, we need to ruthlessly eliminate all the non-relevant stuff that sits in our inbox. Those “later” things are not important enough to keep clogging up space. Also be strict with the time you devote to your email inbox. One hour a day should be more than ample for most.
  • TV: TV probably accounts for a huge deal of information overload. Despite the fact that we watch TV to relax, it is actually counter productive as we soak up a lot of information through our subconscious.
  • Mobile Phones: I know, it’s pretty cool to be the proud owner of the latest gadget mobile phone. I also love gadgets but regardless of how cool they look and how sexy they feel, I turn my mobile off at night and sometimes even during the day. The reason I bought a mobile phone in the first place was to be able to call others in case I was stranded somewhere. Plus the annoyance of getting more and more call center calls to my mobile only makes me more determined to hit that off switch.
  • Unwatched Recorded Shows: Uhh, yeah, I used to be a sucker for not missing my favorite show to the extent of recording them, only to end up with days’ worth of recording and not enough time to watch them all. Take a hint – throw them in the bin.
  • RSS Feeds: With the invention of RSS feeds we were supposed to be saving time, reading our favorite blogs. The reality however looks a lot different. Because it is so easy to hit that subscribe button, we now do ourselves another dis-service by subscribing to a gazillion blogs we don’t even like anyway. I clean out my RSS feeds at least once a month. Those I haven’t read in that time will have to go.
  • Backups: Are essential for anybody who uses a computer and stores data. To keep control of the backed up data, why not burn all the photos and videos onto a DVD? It will take up less storage than having to buy more and more external HDs to keep backing up. Also, one backup should normally be enough and for those of us who need two, maybe a written copy (passwords, login data) will be more useful.
  • Meditate: I purposely left this for last, since meditation can help us immensely with information overload. Preferably you will want to meditate once a day just before bed. Even if it is just for 5 minutes, with meditation we can stop that ever constant chatter that goes on in our head and indulge into the restful sleep we so desperately need.

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