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:
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.
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.
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.
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.