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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 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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