It’s World Mental Health Day and I thought it would only be fitting to talk about how expanding use of online technologies brings additional pressures to our lives and what we can do to combat this “information overload”.
Facts about information overload?
• Information overload is a recognized phenomenon
• Most people check their email 200-300 times a day
• It takes on average 20-25 minutes to get back on task after opening an email
• Interruptions eat up about 28% of the workday
How to conquer information overload? In essence what we suffer from isn’t too much information but rather failure to filter. Information isn’t evil and can be truly powerful if consumed in the right way. Below are some quick tips that will help you beat your technology addiction, and help you lead a more focused and mindful life.
1. Be selective
Create a mental or a physical list of your personal priorities. Is the media you consume helping you achieve your career and personal goals? Be honest with yourself and mindful of time-wasting behavior. For example, I have made the decision to be more selective when it comes to TV and Netflix shows that I watch. I would rather invest time in watching a documentary on a subject that is interesting and useful to me than binge watch a show purely for entertainment. Same goes for the books and magazines I read.
2. Cut the noise
Do you really need to get email notifications on your phone? Is it essential for you to check the news or social channels several times a day? The answer is probably not. Decide how much information is truly necessary for you and how often you really need it. This leads me to my next tip…
3. Create information free zones
Strive to disconnect from information and technology daily. Allocate yourself timeslots for when you’re allowed to consume information or use your phone. For example, I’ve made the commitment to not bring my phone to work meetings or use it during meal times. Information free zones can also be physical places i.e. your bedroom, garden or any other location where you’d rather focus on other priorities.
4. Let go of FOMO
You don’t need to know and do everything. Your reactions will still be authentic if they are not immediate. It’s OK to find out about most breaking news or comment on your friends’ social activity a day late. Don’t let FOMO make you a slave to technology.
Start small and be brave. Disconnecting can truly be powerful and cutting through the noise can really help you regain mental clarity. Once you take the plunge you’ll be wondering how you ever let yourself become so dependent on technology in the first place.