Information Overload and Taking Action

Information Overload and Taking Action

Written by Lars

Topics: Habits, Mindset, Productivity, Self-Discipline

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The problem: We don’t take action on our important goals because we are attacked by a constant flow of unnecessary information.


I’ve struggled with this issue all of my life, but I’m finally slaying the beast of information overload. I’m becoming less distracted, more productive, and I’m completing more significant tasks than ever before.


In this age of limitless information (A.K.A. distractions!), its like we’re drinking from a fire hose. Our emails, social networks, televisions, and cell phones demand our attention for our every waking second, and getting away from this endless barrage of data in order to do something truly important can sometimes seem impossible.


How many times have you told yourself you’d start working right after checking your mountain of e-mail only to find yourself with nothing done after two hours? How many times have you logged onto Facebook, just for a second, and found yourself absorbed in a social media for 45 minutes?


I’ve done both of the above too many times to count. Luckily, I reached a point where I simply told myself “that’s enough.”


Enough procrastinating. Enough letting the unimportant things in my life control my ability to focus on those that actually matter.


The solution: Minimize all nonessential information and develop a bias for action.


The solution is simple but often hard to implement. If you’re like most people and have a gang of time-sucking habits to get rid of, it will be especially difficult.


Author Tim Ferriss says that a low-information diet is key to solving this overload. It is a daunting task to keep up with everything including the news, sports, and politics. Add in Facebook, Twitter, and a couple of your favorite blogs and keeping up becomes nearly impossible.


Tim’s Solution: Don’t even try.


Minimize your information consumption to the essentials. If it doesn’t have a direct and measurable effect on you then throw it out. You’ll find that the list of things that actually have a relevant impact on your life is quite short. The world doesn’t stop spinning if you stop paying attention to it.


One of the worst thieves of our time is email. According to Mashable, people spend roughly 28% of their time at work on email!


Keep yourself safe from this information overload pandemic! Unsubscribe from everything that doesn’t add a huge positive benefit to your life. If you’re receiving newsletters from a website you signed up for but no longer find interesting, hit that unsubscribe button as fast as humanly possible! A group of emails that you don’t care about dropping in your inbox every week will burn through your time like wildfire.


Turn off that beep in your pocket! The constant ‘ding’ throughout the day of your phone letting you know somebody has re-tweeted your message or liked your post on Facebook will literally kill your productivity. Every time your phone goes off your brain will need to shift gears in order to respond to your device. It will then need to shift gears again to get back on task. All of this takes time and will keep you from completing big tasks quickly.


Solve this problem by turning off any digital notifications you have activated on your phone. Also, don’t constantly check your social networks! If you need to check them, do it at the end of the day after you have completed something productive.


This should go without saying, but stop watching TV! If you have a show that you particularly adore then plop yourself down for 20 minutes and call it a break in between getting something productive done. Television is one of the biggest time wasters in America and I recommend staying as far away from this thief as possible. The average American watches roughly 5 hours of television a day. That’s about one third of your waking life if you plan on sleeping 8 hours per night!


Overuse of email, social media, and television are all great ways to burn through your time and cut your productivity in half. Once you’ve learned to cut down on their use you’ll find that it’s much easier to focus on those tasks that are essential to achieving your biggest goals. If you don’t have any big goals… well, maybe it’s because you’ve been too caught up in your Pinterest feed to give thought to anything of real importance.


Meditation can also help you calm your overactive mind. Meditating daily teaches you to let go of your constant distractions and bring yourself to a place of mental calm. Oftentimes, you only notice how franticly your brain has been working to absorb information when you deliberately choose to calm it down.


Learning to let go of unnecessary information will also make it easier to gain a bias for taking action. Having too much information in front of you can lead to analysis paralysis, which will keep you from taking any steps at all! Having a bias for action will pay off in dividends over the course of your lifetime. It allows you to become a creator a doer.


You will never be ‘done’ checking Facebook. With new tweets coming in every second you will never be caught up on your Twitter. Your email will continue to ‘bing’ every time you get an email whether you check it five times a day or just once. Realize this, and start designing your life to be distraction free so that you can really do something valuable! If you have any strategies that have worked for you in the past let me know about them in the comments below!


“Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things that matter least.” -Goethe

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