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Dealing with Information Overload

Dealing with Information Overload
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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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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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    Last Updated on September 20, 2018

    8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

    8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

    You go to the gym to train your muscles. You run outside or go for hikes to train your endurance. Or, maybe you do neither of those, but still wish you exercised more.

    Well, here is how to train one of the most important parts of your body: your brain.

    When you train your brain, you will:

    • Avoid embarrassing situations. You remember his face, but what was his name?
    • Be a faster learner in all sorts of different skills. No problem for you to pick up a new language or new management skill.
    • Avoid diseases that hit as you get older. Alzheimer’s will not be affecting you.

    So how to train your brain and improve your cognitive skills?

    1. Work your memory

    Twyla Tharp, a NYC-based renowned choreographer has come up with the following memory workout:

    When she watches one of her performances, she tries to remember the first twelve to fourteen corrections she wants to discuss with her cast without writing them down.

    If you think this is anything less than a feat, then think again. In her book The Creative Habit she says that most people cannot remember more than three.

    The practice of both remembering events or things and then discussing them with others has actually been supported by brain fitness studies.

    Memory activities that engage all levels of brain operation—receiving, remembering and thinking—help to improve the function of the brain.

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    Now, you may not have dancers to correct, but you may be required to give feedback on a presentation, or your friends may ask you what interesting things you saw at the museum. These are great opportunities to practically train your brain by flexing your memory muscles.

    What is the simplest way to help yourself remember what you see? Repetition.

    For example, say you just met someone new:

    “Hi, my name is George”

    Don’t just respond with, “Nice to meet you”. Instead, say, “Nice to meet you George.”

    Got it? Good.

    2. Do something different repeatedly

    By actually doing something new over and over again, your brain wires new pathways that help you do this new thing better and faster.

    Think back to when you were three years old. You surely were strong enough to hold a knife and a fork just fine. Yet, when you were eating all by yourself, you were creating a mess.

    It was not a matter of strength, you see. It was a matter of cultivating more and better neural pathways that would help you eat by yourself just like an adult does.

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    And guess what? With enough repetition you made that happen!

    But how does this apply to your life right now?

    Say you are a procrastinator. The more you don’t procrastinate, the more you teach your brain not to wait for the last minute to make things happen.

    Now, you might be thinking “Duh, if only not procrastinating could be that easy!”

    Well, it can be. By doing something really small, that you wouldn’t normally do, but is in the direction of getting that task done, you will start creating those new precious neural pathways.

    So if you have been postponing organizing your desk, just take one paper and put in its right place. Or, you can go even smaller. Look at one piece of paper and decide where to put it: Trash? Right cabinet? Another room? Give it to someone?

    You don’t actually need to clean up that paper; you only need to decide what you need to do with it.

    That’s how small you can start. And yet, those neural pathways are still being built. Gradually, you will transform yourself from a procrastinator to an in-the-moment action taker.

    3. Learn something new

    It might sound obvious, but the more you use your brain, the better its going to perform for you.

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    For example, learning a new instrument improves your skill of translating something you see (sheet music) to something you actually do (playing the instrument).

    Learning a new language exposes your brain to a different way of thinking, a different way of expressing yourself.

    You can even literally take it a step further, and learn how to dance. Studies indicate that learning to dance helps seniors avoid Alzheimer’s. Not bad, huh?

    4. Follow a brain training program

    The Internet world can help you improve your brain function while lazily sitting on your couch. A clinically proven program like BrainHQ can help you improve your memory, or think faster, by just following their brain training exercises.

    5. Work your body

    You knew this one was coming didn’t you? Yes indeed, exercise does not just work your body; it also improves the fitness of your brain.

    Even briefly exercising for 20 minutes facilitates information processing and memory functions. But it’s not just that–exercise actually helps your brain create those new neural connections faster. You will learn faster, your alertness level will increase, and you get all that by moving your body.

    Now, if you are not already a regular exerciser, and already feel guilty that you are not helping your brain by exercising more, try a brain training exercise program like Exercise Bliss.

    Remember, just like we discussed in #2, by training your brain to do something new repeatedly, you are actually changing yourself permanently.

    6. Spend time with your loved ones

    If you want optimal cognitive abilities, then you’ve got to have meaningful relationships in your life.  Talking with others and engaging with your loved ones helps you think more clearly, and it can also lift your mood.

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    If you are an extrovert, this holds even more weight for you. At a class at Stanford University, I learned that extroverts actually use talking to other people as a way to understand and process their own thoughts.

    I remember that the teacher told us that after a personality test said she was an extrovert, she was surprised. She had always thought of herself as an introvert. But then, she realized how much talking to others helped her frame her own thoughts, so she accepted her new-found status as an extrovert.

    7. Avoid crossword puzzles

    Many of us, when we think of brain fitness, think of crossword puzzles. And it’s true–crossword puzzles do improve our fluency, yet studies show they are not enough by themselves.

    Are they fun? Yes. Do they sharpen your brain? Not really.

    Of course, if you are doing this for fun, then by all means go ahead. If you are doing it for brain fitness, then you might want to choose another activity

    8. Eat right – and make sure dark chocolate is included

    Foods like fish, fruits, and vegetables help your brain perform optimally. Yet, you might not know that dark chocolate gives your brain a good boost as well.

    When you eat chocolate, your brain produces dopamine. And dopamine helps you learn faster and remember better. Not to mention, chocolate contains flavonols, antioxidants, which also improve your brain functions.

    So next time you have something difficult to do, make sure you grab a bite or two of dark chocolate!

    The bottom line

    Now that you know how to train your brain, it’s actually time to start doing.

    Don’t just consume this content and then go on with your life as if nothing has changed. Put this knowledge into action and become smarter than ever!

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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