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Do you check your text messages while giving your child a bath? Do you take your Blackberry with you on romantic walks with your spouse? Or do you feel a compulsive need to check email even though you know you have other tasks to finish?

If so, you may be suffering from online overload. The fast pace of the Internet can accustom your brain to constant new stimulus, so that it may have trouble adjusting to the slower pace of activities like gardening or playing with your child.

If you fear your online life is taking a toll, try a few of these tips:

1. Keep a record of your online life.

Find out how much time you really spend online, and what you’re doing with it, by tracking your usage. Note how you feel before and during your time at the computer. Many people tend to go online when they are feeling bored, lonesome, or anxious.

2. Set time limits for your Internet use.

Give yourself a specific time period—say, an hour—to answer personal emails, update your Facebook page, and check texts. After that, turn off the computer (or phone) and do something offline.

3. At least once a month, spend an entire day offline.

From the time you wake up till the time you go to sleep, avoid any contact with the Internet. No PDA, no email, no IM, no blogs.

4. Gaze out the window.

Take a break for a few minutes to stare out the window. This can help train your brain to slow down a bit.

5. At work, take an offline hour.

During this hour, get things done! Just go to Control Panel / Network (on Windows) or System Preferences / Network and click “Disable/Disconnect”. Use this time to do your offline work – write memos, write press releases, whatever your job requires. If you really NEED to get stuff from the Internet, write it down and move to the next item on your to-do list. No matter what, only go back online after the hour has passed. You’ll be surprised how much you can get done while offline.

6. Establish regular Internet/phone-free times.

For example, never check your messages between 6 and 9 p.m.

7. Create controls to keep you within your limits.

The Firefox extension PageAddict offers one solution to limit the time you waste browsing the web. For each group of websites you define using tags, you can specify the number of minutes you allow yourself to spend daily. Once you reach the daily limit on the group, you’ll be met with the message get back to work! page access blocked by pageaddict.

8. Make a phone call.

Sometimes our infatuation with the web makes us forget the joy of hearing a friend’s voice, and having actual, out-loud banter. Better yet, call your friend to make a date to spend some time together outside.

9. Reduce email interruption.

Set up two separate email accounts, one for your personal life and one for your professional life. Get better anti-spam filtering, so that your Inbox only contains real messages. Archive messages and move as much stuff out of your Inbox as possible. This will all help make your online time more efficient so you can get off faster.

10. Get tested for addiction

According to the Center for Internet and Technology Addiction, you may have a problem if loved ones are becoming troubled with the amount of time you are devoting to the Internet or if you experience guilt or shame. They offer a virtual Internet addiction test that can help you determine whether it might be time to shut down.

11. Think about other things you loved to do before you discovered the Internet.

Re-discover reading, exercising, meeting up with friends in person, going to the movies and hiking. Don’t become anti-social and let your mind go to mush.

See also: Take Control of Family Tech Time

12. If you are dating online, only email back and forth a few times with your potential date.

Relationships happen in person; the longer you wait to meet the more awkward it will be when you do. Make sure you are in a safe position before you meet, but don’t drag on an email correspondence longer than necessary.

13. Always go online with a purpose.

Say to yourself, “I am going to check my email and buy a bathing suit.” Do said tasks and don’t wander off to explore silly websites/message boards.

See also: 10 Ways to Use Technology to Find What You Want

14. Try to stay off websites that are addictive.

These include Facebook, MySpace, Xanga, MyYearbook, and Photobucket. If you have problems getting off of these sites, just have someone else block them using your built-in Content Advisor. If you’re using Windows Vista, use the parental controls to control Internet access and time on computer.

15. Know you are not alone.

Internet addiction is becoming more and more common and more and more well known. Do not be embarrassed. Find others with the same problem and help each other beat it. 

Source:
http://www.rd.com/health/wellness/how-to-save-your-brain-from-online-overload/

Categorized in Science & Tech

As a writer for the web, I’m well acquainted with information overload. One bit of information leads to five facts, which leads to three articles, which leads to an interesting interview you must listen to right now, which leads to 10 pages in your browser.

I’ve always loved the scavenger hunt research requires. Every clue leads to another. Every clue uncovered is a prize in itself: learning something new and interesting and getting one step closer to the carrot (such as the answer to your original question).

But there’s always one more thing to look up, learn and digest.

 

Whether your livelihood lives online — like mine — or not, you probably use the Web quite a bit. The Internet makes research a breeze. Want to know what triggered the World Wars or how the states got their shapes? Want to know how to bake a tasty tilapia or buy a reliable used car?

Information is merely a click — or, more accurately, a Google search — away. Depending on your query, there’s likely at least a dozen, if not hundreds, of blogs on the topic, a similar number of books and many more articles.

This is a good thing, but it also can overburden our brains.

According to Lucy Jo Palladino, Ph.D, a psychologist and author of Find Your Focus Zone: An Effective New Plan to Defeat Distraction and Overload, “Information overload occurs when a person is exposed to more information than the brain can process at one time.”

 

Alvin Toffler actually coined the term in 1970 in his book Future Shock. As more and more people started using the Web, “information overload” became a popular phrase to describe how we felt about going online, Palladino said.

 

According to neuroscientists, the more accurate term is “cognitive overload,” she said. That’s “because the brain can process vast amounts of information depending on the form in which it’s presented,” she said.

For instance, taking a walk exposes us to a slew of complex data, but as Palladino said, our brains are able to process this information, and our nervous system gets soothed. Contrast that with standing on the corner of Times Square in New York City. Our brain struggles to organize all the sensory data barreling its way, and our nervous system becomes overstimulated, she said. (If you’re a highly sensitive person, like I am, overstimulated is an understatement.)

Information or cognitive overload can lead to indecisiveness, bad decisions and stress, Palladino said. Indecisiveness or analysis paralysis occurs when you’re “overwhelmed by too many choices, your brain mildly freezes and by default, [and] you passively wait and see.” Or you make a hasty decision because vital facts get wedged between trivial ones, and you consider credible and non-credible sources equally, she said.

When you can’t tolerate the overwhelm any longer, you just go for it (and likely go with the wrong choice), she said. “When overload is chronic, you live in a state of unresolved stress and anxiety that you can’t meet ongoing demands to process more information,” she said.

Overcoming Information or Cognitive Overload

In Find Your Focus Zone, Palladino suggests readers view incoming information as bringing bags of groceries into your home. “To put them away, you need time, an amount that’s limited to what fits on the counter, and an already clean fridge and organized pantry.” These are her tips:

1. Schedule breaks. Take a break away from the computer. This gives your brain a breather, and helps you regain perspective, she said. Plus, the quiet time can help you zero in on making a good decision.

2. Set limits. Because the Internet is available 24/7, you can consume information for hours. Limit how long you scan for information. Filter your sources, focusing only on the high-quality ones, she said.

3. Keep your virtual and physical spaces clutter-free. Make sure your computer files and desk are “clear, well-organized and ready to handle overflow,” she said.

 

Dealing with Analysis Paralysis

 

As Palladino noted, when you’re bombarded with too much information, you might experience analysis paralysis. You get so overwhelmed and fed up that you simply stop. On his website, business consultant and coach Chris Garrett suggests asking these valuable questions if you’re struggling with analysis paralysis on a project:

  • What do you absolutely have to do for the project to be a success?
  • What tasks can absolutely not be put off until later?
  • What are the most painful items to change post-launch?
  • What could realistically go wrong?

 

The Conundrum of Control

 

What might be most disconcerting to individuals isn’t the abundance of information, but the feeling of not having any control, speculates Guardianreporter Oliver Burkeman. In his column on information overload, he suggests focusing on finding ways to minimize the stress of overload.

Ironically, it’s often technology that helps me feel in charge of information, instead of feeling pushed and pulled by it. My go-to programs are Freedom, which blocks the Internet, and OmmWriter, which provides a distraction-free writing space. This helps me to focus on one task at a time. (Deadlines also don’t hurt.)

Consciously consuming information is another strategy. Figure out what you need to find, and be ruthless about sticking to your parameters. Save anything that’s interesting but unrelated for another time.

Regardless of how you decide to approach information overload, don’t dismiss the importance of regularly disconnecting.

Source : http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2013/01/21/overcoming-information-overload/

Categorized in Science & Tech

Every day, Internet users are literally bombarded with data, making it impossible at times to complete work tasks or home tasks due to technological distraction. An article published last year by the Harvard Business Review further backs this overload of content problem with figures. According to Harvard Business Review, we produce more Internet data every second compared to the entire Internet’s storage of date 20 years ago. That is astounding, so it’s no wonder that we’re now dealing with this issue.

History of Information Overload

This is actually not a new phenomenon. In fact, this issue dates back to “movable type” and printed matter. Further technologies later exasperated information overload by allowing instant access to data through digitalized content. The barriers of printing presses were removed, allowing for the instant publishing of new content.

And as many content creators and future content creators caught onto just how invaluable the Internet actually is for the delivering of new content to users, the competition began. Now, with so many bloggers and businesses scrambling to create and publish new content, we have bombarded ourselves with a deluge of data and content. 

Problems Associated with Information Overload

Some common problems with this phenomenon include: 

  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Feeling distracted
  • Problems with overall wellbeing
  • Problems with decision-making
  • Interruptions of work tasks
  • Loss of revenue for businesses
  • Interruptions of home tasks

According to recent research of this problem, the above effects have been linked to an overload of information. Relating to business, an overload of information is known to lead to a reduction in productivity and difficulty making decisions. One study found that it took an average of 25 minutes for many workers to return to work following an e-mail or RSS feed interruption.

However, with that said, many users and workers recognize the issue at hand, but are at a loss as to how to overcome this problem. Because many feel that keeping up with the latest information and research is also an integral part of their job. That’s where recovery techniques come into play to help overcome an overload of information. Learn how to overcome this problem with tips and believe it or not, more technology.

How to Recover from Information Overload

Tips for the user bombarded with too much information:

  • Improve self-control of the impulse to check your e-mail while you’re busy working on something else.
  • Prioritize data.
  • Set time limits for viewing new data.
  • Set schedules for data access that will not interfere with your work schedule.
  • Allow the latest technologies available to help you do all of the above to help you improve self-control and prioritize data.

Content Marketing Strategies to Overcome Information Overload

Activity Streams:  By subscribing to Activity Streams, you could help to reduce an overload of information, because when you receive a list of recent activities to a user or business that you have subscribed to, you then have the choice to only access the content that interests you most. Instead of feeling bombarded with everything at once, the content has been condensed into a neat and tidy list for you to choose from.

Filter Incoming Messages:  Filter incoming messages by priority. For instance, with Google you can now filter messages into various folders such as Inbox, Promotions, Work, Spam, etc.

Focus and Self-Discipline:  Focus only on content and users that truly interest you. Why subscribe to data that you know you won’t have time to view or really have no interest in viewing? Only subscribe to content that you truly feel brings value to your world and then discipline yourself as to how much time you allow for viewing this data and set times that work best with your busy schedule to view data. This is a great way to avoid becoming overwhelmed.

When Producing New Content:  Keep your content fresh, unique, valuable and relevant.

Conclusion to Information Overload

At first, it may feel like this is hard to do, if you feel almost addicted to content. But in the end, once you start implementing these easy steps, you’ll realize just how easy they really are, you’ll feel better overall and you’ll notice a significant difference in completing tasks online and offline.

Source :
http://www.steamfeed.com/state-information-overload/

Categorized in Science & Tech

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