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Overcoming Information Overload

By Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S.
Associate Editor

Overcoming Information Overload As a writer for the web, I’m well acquainted with information overload. One bit of information leads to five facts, which leads to three articles, which leads to an interesting interview you must listen to right now, which leads to 10 pages in your browser.

I’ve always loved the scavenger hunt research requires. Every clue leads to another. Every clue uncovered is a prize in itself: learning something new and interesting and getting one step closer to the carrot (such as the answer to your original question).

But there’s always one more thing to look up, learn and digest.

Whether your livelihood lives online — like mine — or not, you probably use the Web quite a bit. The Internet makes research a breeze. Want to know what triggered the World Wars or how the states got their shapes? Want to know how to bake a tasty tilapia or buy a reliable used car?

Information is merely a click — or, more accurately, a Google search — away. Depending on your query, there’s likely at least a dozen, if not hundreds, of blogs on the topic, a similar number of books and many more articles.

This is a good thing, but it also can overburden our brains.

9 Comments to
Overcoming Information Overload

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  1. It’s not just an information overload problem. It’s also a matter of “information overconsumption”. A lot of people choose to just consume and consume over and over again without filtering out things.

    There’s a book called “The Information Diet” that talks about this. You can visit the book’s website at http://www.informationdiet.com

  2. For me,I take a break and breathe deeply at intervals in order for me to regain perspective. By taking a break, I restrain myself from the tendency to keep on working on whatever I am doing mindlessly. This is how I cope with information overload.

  3. To be intellectually curious in the digital information age is a curse. Yes, too much of anything is just too much, except maybe good whiskey (to borrow a phrase from Mark Twain that I just now found online :).

  4. I came across this problem myself and currently doing some research on the problem and i fell to the trap again and landed on your page.
    Valuable information, Thank you

  5. I like what you wrote on scheduling breaks and setting limits. Really helpful in giving our brain a good break. I would suggest that with these information overload and/or information over consumption, one of the key solution is to use technology. Human brain will not be able to store all details but with the help of technology, there is a solution. I personally use different kinds of productivity tools to assist me in ensuring that all information and data are saved for future references (such as Evernote). We are also open to trying out new and emerging collaboration tools to see which one fits our organization best (I guess that’s the only way you find out: trial and error) check out Phoenary.com
    On a personal note, a short coffee break is also a fantastic remedy when the mind starts drifting away.

  6. I like what you wrote on scheduling breaks and setting limits. Really helpful in giving our brain a good break. I would suggest that with these information overload and/or information over consumption, one of the key solution is to use collaboration tools. Human brain will not be able to store all details but with the help of technology, there is a solution. I personally use different kinds of productivity tools to assist me in ensuring that all information and data are saved for future references (such as Evernote). We are also open to trying out new and emerging collaboration tools to see which one fits our organization best (I guess that’s the only way you find out: trial and error) check out Phoenary.com
    On a personal note, a short coffee break is also a fantastic remedy when the mind starts drifting away.

  7. I find that naps help me to be the most productive.So after work I like to take a nap before I start working on my homework. I would like to learn to meditate, but my mind races so much. Naps help to give my mind a break.

  8. The vast amounts of information on the internet makes it really easy to get sucked into the pattern of seeking out too much information. As a database administrator/analyst, I find this is similar to the process of extracting information from raw data. The internet is full of information, but in its current form it is difficult to convert it into knowledge. Acquiring knowledge requires first sifting through the vast amounts of information and creating a summary of the key points. I find this helps me to organize my thoughts and avoid over-researching a topic.

    An intelligent heart acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge. (Proverbs 18:15)

  9. Thank you for your post Margarita,

    What is going through my mind reading your post is the tension between having the need to find knowledge or information verses the overwhelming amount of material that it out there that we have to sift through. You brought up some tips to elevate some of the problem of being overwhelmed, however, what would you say to being personally bombarded internally. In such a fast paced digital age, with so MANY distractions gunning for our attention, a person could get lost in their own thoughts, forgetting what is most important to them, and worse yet, forgetting what is most true about themselves. That may seem a little too deep, but think about what the world around you is telling you what should be important in reference to what you hold true in and of yourself?

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