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How to Deal with Information Overload

The Internet has forever changed the way we receive and process information. Decades ago, no one could have ever imagined that an entire world's wealth of information could be accessed within seconds, all with the click of a button.

As you might expect, easy access to a great deal of information can be somewhat of a double-edged sword. With so much to take in, dealing with information in a proper manner can be a challenge.

Coping with the information age can be a trying process, especially for those who are online for much of the day. Information overload doesn't have to stress you out, especially if you take the time to process things and don't allow yourself to get overwhelmed.

The following tips should help you to stay on-track with dealing with information overload, all of which are easy to put into practice today.

Get Your Priorities Straight

If there's one thing that makes dealing with information overload difficult, it's not taking the time to get your priorities straight.

Multitasking has become a way of life for many of us, mostly out of necessity. While it can be helpful to determine ways in which you can better handle a variety of tasks side-by-side, most people find that focusing on a single task at a time is a far more effective route to take.

One of the main reasons to prioritize your tasks is that doing so is as easy as can be. There are countless apps for mobile devices and PCs/laptops that will assist you in creating a "to-do list," which you can then prioritize in regards to timeliness and overall importance.

What you'll end up with is a top-down approach to handling day-to-day needs that will not only keep you on track, but ensure that you're devoting the right amount of time and energy to each and every task you take on.

Limit Your RSS Feeds

For many of us, RSS feeds are a godsend. They make seeking out and receiving information a breeze, culling everything together into a single space.

In this way, RSS feeds are time-savers, but only if they're properly utilized.

Too many RSS feeds can be exceptionally overwhelming, especially if you're receiving updates on a daily basis. It may seem as if you're streamlining the way you receive information, but all you're really doing is overloading yourself with more text than anyone can logically entertain in a single sitting.

Fortunately, there are ways in which you can still utilize RSS feeds and keep the overwhelming aspects of doing so at bay, and it all comes down to cutting out anything that might be considered unnecessary to read on a daily basis.

A lot of people subscribe to humor and gossip feeds, for example, simply because a little mindless entertainment can be a good way to break up the day. It can also be distracting, and if you're already spending enough time in front of a computer as it is, you might want to seek out "real life" entertainment instead.

Cut down your feeds to only the ones you absolutely need each day, and you'll be taking a major step in the right direction.

Schedule Some "Blackout Hours" Each Day

Working an 8 hour (or longer) day can be difficult for those who are mostly in front of a computer the entire time. It's not only a relatively exhausting task to stare at a screen for hours at a time, but it provides plenty of reasons to lose focus.

Everyone has had days in which they've been "working" from morning to night, yet feel as if they didn't accomplished anything at all. It's a normal part of working on a computer, but it doesn't have to get in the way of your productivity.

It may seem as if stepping away from the computer for a couple hours each day will wreck any chances of being productive and getting things done, but there's truly no better way to stay on task.

Try to schedule an hour in the morning and perhaps one more later in the afternoon to step away from the computer, take a walk, or perhaps do some brainstorming.

Staying refreshed is the best way to ensure that you don't lose focus when you're in the middle of working on an important task and should never be overlooked, no matter how much you've got on your plate.

Sometimes, all it takes to gain your energy/focus back is a little bit of fresh air.

Get out of the house and breath some fresh air once in a while.

Limit Your Time on Facebook/Twitter

Facebook and Twitter are two of the most heavily-used social media platforms on the Internet, and both have their business uses.

They can also both be major time-wasters, especially if used for personal reasons.

It's tempting to check your Facebook account for status updates and messages throughout the day, and doing so every once in a while isn't likely to get in the way of your productivity and ability to contextualize information. Go back and forth between tabs all day long, though, and you'll quickly find yourself spending more time on these sites than getting actual work done.

If you use Facebook for business purposes, try to keep it that way.

You can avoid the temptation of checking your personal account simply by only logging into the account you use for your business, or staying off the site until near the end of the day.

The same goes for Twitter, although some businesses find the need to utilize both services multiple times per day in order to connect with their audience. Either way, always be mindful of how much time you're spending on these sites, and try to keep it to a minimum.

Dealing with information overload is one of the most difficult aspects of living in today's world, and it certainly takes some practice. Put the work in and your chances of having a productive, streamlined day will no doubt increase, especially if you've been wasting a lot of time lately.

 

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Tim Eisenhauer
Written by Tim Eisenhauer

Tim is president and co-founder of Axero Solutions, a leading intranet software vendor. He's also a bestselling author of Who the Hell Wants to Work for You? Mastering Employee Engagement. Tim’s been featured in Fortune, Forbes, TIME, Inc Magazine, Entrepreneur, CNBC, Today, and other leading publications.

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