Coping With Information Overload

Information overload which is simply; having access to too much information at once isn’t anything new. Since the onset of the internet, there has been a surge in the amount of information accessible to everyone. The problem has become worse as the global internet penetration rate increases. According to the latest statistics, 51% of the world’s population is now connected to the internet. This represents a 16% increase from the 35% who were connected in 2013. [1]

With some regions such as North America boasting of an 89% internet penetration rate, it’s easy to see why information overload is a problem now more than ever. What’s more? 55,000 scientific journals and 1.2 million articles are published every year. The no. of books and research reports published yearly stands at 60,000 and 100,000 respectively.[2] The number of information outlets has also increased in our households and workplaces. People also consume information today faster than they did 50 years ago.

This can be seen in many studies which find information overload to be a serious problem that needs to be dealt with. [3] Considering some of the information we consume may not be factual, how do you cope with information overload?

Identify the source/s

You can gauge the importance of information among other attributes like accuracy if you know the source. There are many sources of information today from emails and websites to reports, journals and information management systems. Social media is also a huge source of information today. In fact, social media is among the main sources of inaccurate information today or what is popularly known as “fake news”. This explains why information acquired from social media should be treated “lightly” until it is verified.


Filter the information

To avoid being overloaded by too much information, you must filter the information you come across. Identifying the source of information will give you a good clue about the validity of information. This step is about categorizing information accordingly. For instance, you should have email rules that allow you to categorize incoming emails. Gmail is a great email platform because it filters emails in order of importance. You can see and read important emails immediately. Less important emails can be reviewed later. You can use mind maps to track data sources as well as organize incoming information into appropriate categories.

Review the information

You shouldn’t deal with information overload by ignoring information. Since information is power, you must take time to review what has been filtered. If you have important emails in your primary folder, have a specific time in your daily schedule to go through such information. There is no point in storing information you won’t review.

Your focus should be on establishing systems that make it fast and easy to go about this step. If you use mind maps to organize information, it will take less time to review and act on information. A mind map prevents information overload problems such as jumping from one piece of information to another.

Omit/delete some information

Some “useless” information may pass the filtration and review process. If this happens, delete or omit such information. You should understand the fact that you can’t consume every piece of information you come across. If you can’t deal with information immediately or later, pass it over to someone else who can take action on your behalf or “file” it away. The rest of the information should be deleted.

Important: Never respond to information without thorough consideration. One of the consequences of too much information is the urgency to respond. To avoid committing errors, think before responding to anything.

If you don’t find a way to manage the information you consume, you will be overwhelmed by the information you come across. You should be wary of the source of the information you are consuming. Avoid sources that are questionable to avoid wasting time and distorting facts. You should also invest in information management systems that make it easier for you to filter, review and respond to information. You should also avoid responding to everything. You can avoid errors by responding after thorough consideration since too much information increases your risk of making mistakes. Most importantly, don’t forget to use multiple/parallel channels for information processing tasks. You can’t handle all information processes by yourself.

Is the Company Director of Swift Money Limited.
He oversees all day to day operations of the company and actively participates in providing information regarding the payday/short term loan industry.

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