Today, more than ever before, our lives are bombarded by an endless flow of information. We no longer need to wonder about anything. Within seconds we can find the answer to almost any question, distract ourselves with entertainment, and buy whatever we’d like at the click of a button. In a world of limitless information, non-stop updates, live feeds, and commentary, it can feel impossible to switch off.
Why there is such a thing as too much information:
With so much multitasking, scattered concentration and disrupted thinking becoming a part of everyday life it’s easy to feel like you’re being pulled in lots of different directions at the same time. Scarily, information-overload begins to feel normal and it actually becomes more and more difficult to switch off. Social media giants, such as Facebook, have recently admitted that their products were designed to consume our conscious attention and provide psychological rewards through dopamine hits when someone likes or comments on our engagement. Engineered in the same way as addictive slot machines, the apps on our devices are specifically engineered to provide irregularly timed reward patterns and keep us glued to our phones.
Have you noticed that you’ve experienced any of these common symptoms of information overload?
Trouble sleeping: Feeling groggy and tired all the time, or having difficulty falling asleep at night
Poor concentration: Finding it harder to enjoy the simple things in life like a hot cup of coffee in the morning, people watching, reading a book, or having a long conversation without looking at or thinking about your phone
Feeling emotionally detached: Finding that social media has started obscuring your sense of reality or replaced real-life interactions
Stress: Feeling overwhelmed by the amount of information on the internet, your push news notifications, and the idea that you’ll never be completely up-to-date with anything on the internet because it’s constantly changing and people are always posting updates
Creative block: You might feel like everything has already been done, or that with so many competing views, opinions and approaches you don’t know where to start
Our top-tips to minimize information overload:
Have a digital detox: Set aside one evening, a weekend, or an entire week to unplug from technology and enjoy some other types of activities that you used to enjoy before the days of smartphones. Maybe it’s socializing with friends, going to an exercise class, or getting lost in a good book.
Manage your information: Try an app-blocker which will stop you from accessing certain apps at certain times. Prioritise apps that you find useful and be clear about how you will use them and unsubscribe from any emails or alerts that are distracting you and not enriching your life.
Notice it happening: Be aware when you are spiralling into a time suck of mindless scrolling, or going down the rabbit hole of links. Set reminders to switch off and make putting your devices away a daily habit.
Our favourite tools to help you find an analogue sanctuary:
Dim the colours on your phone: Set the colour filters to black and white to make your device less attention grabbing.
Go retro: If you’re feeling bold, ditch the smartphone altogether and pick up a basic mobile that will let you keep in touch with family and friends without the information overload.
The Elephant app: A useful tool to create reminders for habits you want to instill or break.
Books: Check out How to Break up With Your Phone by Catherine Price and Cal Newport’s Digital Minimalism for more tips and tricks.
It might seem impossible to disconnect in today’s world, but by setting yourself a few boundaries you can give your thinking mind a bit of downtime and even find the time to rediscover some of your favourite activities.