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How To Be Smarter In The Age Of Information Overload

How To Be Smarter In The Age Of Information Overload

We live in the digital age, where we can access huge swathes of information with the single click of a button. Given the fact that access to these data-sets is unrestricted, however, we are often exposed to an information overload whenever we research a specific subject or search query online. This can not only be mentally exhausting, but it also confuses and fragments our thinking over time.

To negate this, you will need to be selective when browsing an overload of information and adopt skills that will enable you to think with greater purpose and clarity.

How to think Smarter in the Age of Information Overload

With this in mind, how exactly can begin to think smarter and become more selective in the age of information overload? Here are some ideas:

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1. Maintain a clear Objective when looking for information Online

This is the first and arguably most important point, as without a clear objective when browsing online you will quickly become overwhelmed by excessive and often conflicting information. By maintaining a big picture in your mind at all times and determining precisely what you are looking for in the first place, you can cope with even the most significant of data-sets.

This is where mind maps can prove exceptionally useful, as they provide a visual representation of your thoughts and individual thinking processes. Try this before you begin to search for data, and keep in mind at all times while surfing online.

2. Do not give Attention to all the Information you review

This is another important point, especially when confronted with vast or conflicting data-sets. If you were to believe everything that you were to read on a specific topic, you would find it almost impossible to arrive at any firm conclusions or make an informed decision.

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It is particularly true on popular or widely discussed topics, which often divide opinion and elicit strong emotions. When confronted with such information, you must strive to identify and evaluate the most relevant data and apply your findings to your own, personal circumstances, while also keeping a primary objective in mind.

3. Keep Integrating Data to Avoid Gaps in Knowledge

When drawing data from different sources, it can be hard to maintain a consistent flow or thought process. This is why so many people use comprehensive comparison sites and resources when shopping for home insurance, as these pages combine huge swathes of information within a single location.

This makes it far easier to process data, no matter how much information is included. If you cannot access such resources, you must instead focus on integrating data in an organised and practical manner, helping to avoid any gaps in knowledge and more importantly understanding.

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4. Maintain an Open and Objective Mind when Processing Information

We have already touched on the importance of being selective when browsing data, but it is also important that you are objective. While you will need to determine a clear objective when reading information, people also tend to seek out data that relates to a specific belief system or values they they hold dear.

This creates bias and can cloud the subconscious mind, so you must maintain and open and objective outlook when browsing online. If you can search for information beyond your subjective, you will achieve far greater knowledge and use this to execute more informed decisions.

5. Give your Brain Regular Breaks to Avoid Information Overload

In many ways, processing data online is similar to working or completing tasks on a computer. The glare from the screen and the focus required to complete these tasks can cause mental fatigue over time, however, overwhelming your thought processes and making it extremely difficult to achieve your goals.

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This is why it is important to take regular breaks from the screen, as this enables you to refresh the mind and maintain your mental sharpness. The Pomodoro Technique of operating can help you to implement this strategy, as it encourages you to work in intense segments of 25 minutes before enjoying five minutes downtime (and then repeating this process).

6. Structure the Information you receive to Read Less and Think deeper

Information overload has encouraged numerous scientific studies, with the majority finding that the structure of the information we receive is extremely impactful. The successful structuring and integration of data helps us to process information and identify critical details, enabling us to build knowledge successfully.

In addition to being able to structure the data that you process to provide clarity, you can also prioritise websites that require you to click-through to access different data-sets. This website detailing the history of the Wimbledon tennis tournament offers a relevant case in point, as it is clearly separated into different categories and allows users to click-through to access data on players, facts and records.

This forces your brain to process small pieces of data and sub-headings before choosing which sections to explore further, enabling you to access and structure information in a knowledgeable manner.

Hopefully, these steps will help you think smarter and not harder when processing information online. This should ensure that you avoid the pitfalls of information overload and tech your brain to be more selective when reviewing data.

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Last Updated on March 30, 2020

20 Time Management Tips to Super Boost Your Productivity

20 Time Management Tips to Super Boost Your Productivity

Are you usually punctual or late? Do you finish things within the time you stipulate? Do you hand in your reports/work on time? Are you able to accomplish what you want to do before deadlines? Are you a good time manager?

If your answer is “no” to any of the questions above, that means you’re not managing your time as well as you want. Here are 20 time management tips to help you manage time better:

1. Create a Daily Plan

Plan your day before it unfolds. Do it in the morning or even better, the night before you sleep. The plan gives you a good overview of how the day will pan out. That way, you don’t get caught off guard. Your job for the day is to stick to the plan as best as possible.

2. Peg a Time Limit to Each Task

Be clear that you need to finish X task by 10am, Y task by 3pm, and Z item by 5:30pm. This prevents your work from dragging on and eating into time reserved for other activities.

3. Use a Calendar

Having a calendar is the most fundamental step to managing your daily activities. If you use outlook or lotus notes, calendar come as part of your mailing software.

I use it. It’s even better if you can sync your calendar to your mobile phone and other hardwares you use – that way, you can access your schedule no matter where you are. Here’re the 10 Best Calendar Apps to Stay on Track .

Find out more tips about how to use calendar for better time management here: How to Use a Calendar to Create Time and Space

4. Use an Organizer

An organizer helps you to be on top of everything in your life. It’s your central tool to organize information, to-do lists, projects, and other miscellaneous items.

These Top 15 Time Management Apps and Tools can help you organize better, pick one that fits your needs.

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5. Know Your Deadlines

When do you need to finish your tasks? Mark the deadlines out clearly in your calendar and organizer so you know when you need to finish them.

But make sure you don’t make these 10 Common Mistakes When Setting Deadlines.

6. Learn to Say “No”

Don’t take on more than you can handle. For the distractions that come in when you’re doing other things, give a firm no. Or defer it to a later period.

Leo Babauta, the founder of Zen Habits has some great insights on how to say no: The Gentle Art of Saying No

7. Target to Be Early

When you target to be on time, you’ll either be on time or late. Most of the times you’ll be late. However, if you target to be early, you’ll most likely be on time.

For appointments, strive to be early. For your deadlines, submit them earlier than required.

Learn from these tips about how to prepare yourself to be early, instead of just in time.

8. Time Box Your Activities

This means restricting your work to X amount of time. Why time boxing is good for you? Here’re 10 reasons why you should start time-boxing.

You can also read more about how to do time boxing here: Get What Matters Done by Scheduling Time Blocks

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9. Have a Clock Visibly Placed Before You

Sometimes we are so engrossed in our work that we lose track of time. Having a huge clock in front of you will keep you aware of the time at the moment.

10. Set Reminders 15 Minutes Before

Most calendars have a reminder function. If you have an important meeting to attend, set that alarm 15 minutes before.

You can learn more about how reminders help you remember everything in this article: The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder That Works)

11. Focus

Are you multi-tasking so much that you’re just not getting anything done? If so, focus on just one key task at one time. Multitasking is bad for you.

Close off all the applications you aren’t using. Close off the tabs in your browser that are taking away your attention. Focus solely on what you’re doing. You’ll be more efficient that way.

Lifehack’s CEO has written a definitive guide on how to focus, learn the tips: How to Focus and Maximize Your Productivity (the Definitive Guide)

12. Block out Distractions

What’s distracting you in your work? Instant messages? Phone ringing? Text messages popping in?

I hardly ever use chat nowadays. The only times when I log on is when I’m not intending to do any work. Otherwise it gets very distracting.

When I’m doing important work, I also switch off my phone. Calls during this time are recorded and I contact them afterward if it’s something important. This helps me concentrate better.

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Find more tips on how to minimize distractions to achieve more in How to Minimize Distraction to Get Things Done

13. Track Your Time Spent

When you start to track your time, you’re more aware of how you spend your time. For example, you can set a simple countdown timer to make sure that you finish a task within a period of time, say 30 minutes or 1 hour. The time pressure can push you to stay focused and work more efficiently.

You can find more time tracking apps here and pick one that works for you.

14. Don’t Fuss About Unimportant Details

You’re never get everything done in exactly the way you want. Trying to do so is being ineffective.

Trying to be perfect does you more harm than good, learn here about how perfectionism kills your productivity and how to ditch the perfectionism mindset.

15. Prioritize

Since you can’t do everything, learn to prioritize the important and let go of the rest.

Apply the 80/20 principle which is a key principle in prioritization. You can also take up this technique to prioritize everything on your plate: How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

16. Delegate

If there are things that can be better done by others or things that are not so important, consider delegating. This takes a load off and you can focus on the important tasks.

When you delegate some of your work, you free up your time and achieve more. Learn about how to effectively delegate works in this guide: How to Delegate Work (the Definitive Guide for Successful Leaders)

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17. Batch Similar Tasks Together

For related work, batch them together.

For example, my work can be categorized into these core groups:

  1. writing (articles, my upcoming book)
  2. coaching
  3. workshop development
  4. business development
  5. administrative

I batch all the related tasks together so there’s synergy. If I need to make calls, I allocate a time slot to make all my calls. It really streamlines the process.

18. Eliminate Your Time Wasters

What takes your time away your work? Facebook? Twitter? Email checking? Stop checking them so often.

One thing you can do is make it hard to check them – remove them from your browser quick links / bookmarks and stuff them in a hard to access bookmarks folder. Replace your browser bookmarks with important work-related sites.

While you’ll still checking FB/Twitter no doubt, you’ll find it’s a lower frequency than before.

19. Cut off When You Need To

The number one reason why things overrun is because you don’t cut off when you have to.

Don’t be afraid to intercept in meetings or draw a line to cut-off. Otherwise, there’s never going to be an end and you’ll just eat into the time for later.

20. Leave Buffer Time In-Between

Don’t pack everything closely together. Leave a 5-10 minute buffer time in between each tasks. This helps you wrap up the previous task and start off on the next one.

More Time Management Tips

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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