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Do you feel exhausted, worn out, or like you’re not enough? You may be suffering from information overload.

Do you sometimes end your day feeling exhausted, drained, or overwhelmed? Maybe even feeling that way in the morning? Have you ever struggled with a feeling that you’re not good enough? Does scrolling on LinkedIn make you question your own life choices (perhaps because everyone seems to have such a flawless life)? 

If these questions resonate with you, the problem may not be in your work or personal life. Instead, it may simply be that you are taking in too much information.

The Problem: Information Overload.

Here’s the challenge: we’re in the middle of an age of information overload. It’s like we have  data coming at us from every angle – online, TV, radio, even good old-fashioned newspapers.

But here’s the kicker: what happens when this steady stream turns into a tsunami? What if we find ourselves swimming – sometimes drowning – in a chaotic mix of too much input? Consider this: a recent study found that by 2022, U.S. adults will spend nearly half their day – more than 13 hours – consuming media! This figure is the same as last year–talk about overload!. Even  though TV time decreases slightly, our digital habits aren’t slowing down.

Here’s another fact: according to a Gallup poll, Americans now sleep an average of only about 6.8 hours a night! This means that on average, we only have three to four free waking hours without screens. 

Welcome to our dilemma: information overload, or TMI (too much information) for short.

Understanding Information Overload

So why should we care, you ask? Well, as the old saying goes, too much of a good thing can be bad. Here are some common  effects of information overload:

  • First, there are some general psychological and behavioral effects. Information overload can lead to issues such as information fatigue, social media fatigue, information anxiety, information avoidance, increased stress, distracted thinking, and confusion. 
  • At Autoris, we have a special interest in learning and talent development – and these challenges are essential to improving the lives of our clients. . When it comes to learning, our brains need to pay attention, receive information and understand and implement new concepts.

    Too much information can overwhelm us – this is called cognitive overload, making it hard to focus and remember new things. Even worse, it can lead to decision fatigue – when your brain gets too tired to effectively process new  data.
  • The same goes for habit changes, which are crucial to improving our mindset. Changing habits isn’t easy – it requires constant focus and hard work. But when you’re inundated with too much information, it’s hard to keep your mind on the task at hand and find the energy to create new routines. In addition, the stress of information overload can make us crave what we know best – our old ways, which makes it even harder to break free of them.
  • And what about being creative? Let’s face it, when your brain is overloaded with information, coming up with fresh ideas can feel like trying to find a needle in a haystack. You’re so overwhelmed that you can’t connect the dots or find a place of focus.. For originality to shine through , we need mental downtime that is quiet and calm. 
  • It doesn’t get better at work: too much information can distract our working lives. It can slow us down in making decisions, prevent us from critically evaluating things, and even cause us to lose control. A survey by found that 53% of employees feel that email overload interferes with their productivity.

    Additionally, information overload was cited as a reason for reduced decision-making ability in the workplace. But that’s not all – it can also affect how well we do our jobs. Too much information can disrupt our work.  Interruptions are a challenge, but we can find a path through limited exposure to additional distractions, starting with screens.

    It can slow us down, prevent us from evaluating things critically, and even lead to a loss of control. But that’s not all – it can also affect how well we do our jobs.

    Remember the famous Yerkes-Dodson curve that shows the relationship between performance and arousal? Well, replace arousal with information, and there you have it: Too little or too much information can hinder performance, but just the right amount can enhance it.
  • Are you a student? Studies show that students often struggle with information overload. An overwhelming amount of data can lead to time-consuming research and harm your health. It can even make you feel isolated, stifle your creativity, and reduce your productivity.
  • And here’s a final effect: In a media world where everyone seems flawless, the constant bombardment of information can often make us feel inadequate

The list goes on and on. What does this mean? Well, simply put, too much information (TMI) can be harmful. We might actually live happier lives if we learn and cultivate habits to avoid this information overload. And remember, such overload hinders our learning process and the formation of healthy habits – a truly vicious cycle!

So is the fight against TMI hopeless? Fortunately, it’s not – and some people have found useful strategies. Here are a few:

Strategies for Fighting Information Overload

The disconnected:

Let’s simplify this: some people have chosen to disconnect. We are sure you know several friends who have decided to close their accounts on some social media platforms. Others have even embarked on digital detox diets.

The reducers:

Others have begun to take things at their own pace, scaling back as needed and becoming more conscious. Their strategy: Keep an eye on what you’re taking in and how much of it there is. And it’s true, not every piece of information is critical or even helpful to us. In fact, often it is quite the opposite.

The techies:

They make technology their ally: tech enthusiasts often find their answers in the technology itself. Indeed, there are many apps and tools designed to help us manage and filter the information we digest (more on that soon!)

The unpluggers:

Admit it, the phrase “information overload” can seem scary and even stressful. Sometimes, as author Anne Lamott wisely puts it: “Almost everything works if you unplug it for a moment…including you.

That may be exactly what we need to do-unplug. But here’s the tricky part: studies show that TMI (too much information) can negatively impact your ability to unwind and sleep. Specifically, it can lead to worry and sadness, which can then disrupt your sleep patterns.

The best approach: yours

So what’s the best way to tackle the next wave of information? It’s yours.

In other words, we’re all unique; what works brilliantly for some may not work at all for others. Knowing our challenges is half the battle. Find your own solution. 

However, there are some best practices that will work for many of us:

  • Balance is key when it comes to information intake.
  • Be careful not to consume too much content.
  • Consider unplugging from time to time for better mental health.
  • After all, a little break from our devices can’t hurt! 

So what exactly is your job? Figure out what floats your boat on the information sea – be it a life raft, a surfboard, or a kayak! This sounds overwhelming? Don’t worry! We’re here to help.

But first, slow down, take a breath. Why? Well, you guessed it – to avoid information overload. Here’s our learning: initially, we had grand plans to dive headfirst into this topic with heaps of details, theories, and tips by the bucketload. However, we noticed comment at the bottom of an ‘Information Overload Self-Help Guide’ online; it read: “This guide to information overload is information overload.” That’s why we’re going to pause now.

But here is the plan: Every day for the next week, we’re going to give you concise yet powerful tips and tools to improve your information management skills. 

  1. First, we’re going to take a deep dive into how you interact with media on a daily basis. We need to determine if you’re at risk for information overload.
  2. Next, we’ll visualize what victory would look like and brainstorm strategies to get there. But don’t worry, our goal is not to drown you in more data about managing information itself! Your strategy will be tailored to your specific needs.

    Remember this crucial fact: It’s not necessary, or even beneficial, to clone someone else’s success story as your own antidote. The idea here is to uncover fresh solutions that resonate with your pace and pattern, because there is no one-size-fits-all approach to dealing with information overload.
  3. Finally, our focus will shift to ensuring that these plans get off the ground – paving the way for successful implementation of the tactics you have developed to dodge the data deluge.

Stay tuned – and look out for our daily post to help you stop feeling exhausted, drained, or overwhelmed – but instead cruise towards a life that is as well-informed as it is balanced.

Footnotes and Further Reading

  1. US Time Spent with Media 2022, see↩
  2. Yerkes, R. M., & Dodson, J. D. (1908). The relation of strength of stimulus to rapidity of habit-formation. Journal of Comparative Neurology and Psychology, 18, 459-482. ↩
  3. On understanding information overload, see
    1.  (Bawden & Robinson, 2020);
    2.  (Soroya, Farooq, Mahmood, Isoaho, & Zara, 2020);
    3.  (Parra-Medina & Álvarez-Cervera, 2021).

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