Too much information?

I don’t know about you, but I constantly have the feeling of being overwhelmed, of having too much to do, to read, to listen to, of having too much buzzing round inside my brain. I often feel like there is so much information flying about that I cannot possible pick the right thing to focus on.

I have long been trying to work out how to find the balance, to deal with all the information that enters my life; home admin, work, media of all varieties, reading, and now writing, without allowing any of it to take over. To be honest I fail miserably.

I have done Marie Kondo (well some of it), I am a fully paid up member of the minimalism gang (in theory but not in practice!). I love simplicity. And yet the one area in my life that probably needs to be most minimal, my brain, is far from it.

I devour information, to avoid FOMO, like ‘7 steps to an organized fridge’ which might have a golden tip I didn’t already know, or who did what at the weekend. And I gather random facts to squirrel away because they might possibly be useful one day such as how the Richter scale for measuring earthquakes is exponential (haven’t got a clue when that might be!). I will start a book and whizz through it to get to the end of the story (do I enjoy the journey? maybe).

But my mind has feels like it has finite capacity. So much of the time I find information tumbling over other information in a bid to either squeeze in or out of the door to my psyche. The catharsis of a brain dump is testament to this.

I know that I use a variety of media as distraction from thinking, as a crutch to occupy my mind on ‘easy things’, rather than deal with the difficult. I am really bad at decisions, so I let myself drift away from them and on to something else. But this wastes so much of my time. I end up repeating things. A lot.

How do we consider and value our information consumption? Do we critically evaluate the information we receive? Do we match it up to our instincts and our personalities and accept or decline it with due deliberation or do we simply consume with rabid thirst for knowledge things that are not really that important to us?

We have so much choice over what data we absorb and utilise (or just squat with). Instead of freeing, often this can be crippling, paralysing to a point where we can no longer hear ourselves, our thoughts, emotions and beliefs. Do we actually know who we are and what we want? How we want to live our lives, not how others want us to live them?

For a long time I had difficulty with knowing what I wanted from life. I didn’t know myself and even now this can be a shady, although getting sunnier, area for me. I can at times be out of touch with my true feelings, opinions, and thoughts.

The constant barrage of information that we get in our daily lives is no help on this front. Media consumption is a mask, a poultice for the underlying problems we have, not solving them, only relieving the symptoms.

I have a desire to use my brain, to be creative, in writing, something I have wanted for a long time but denied to myself through strange beliefs established in childhood, through the cultural indoctrination of what is expected of us. And I wonder how much of the difficulty I have had with being creative is partly due to the overload of information I expose myself to?

So next week I am doing a reading and media deprivation week. No reading, TV (no continuing the Game of Thrones overdosing that has shaped recent weeks), no radio, no blogging, no Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest (I’m going to delete my apps), no research, no news, no random following threads into the ether.

Just a notebook by my side. I’ll be interested to see how a lack of written, watched or listened to input (or rather the vast exposure to the real world) affects my creativity and the space in my brain for everything else, how it affects how I lead my life on the other side. I’ll see you over there.

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10 Comments Add yours

  1. I have the same issue with information overload and lately, it’s become too much to the point where it has begun to affect my mental wellbeing a little. I feel there is so much around me to take in that I cannot handle it and I’ve been forgetful, beating myself up over all the things I need to remember and need to take in, but can’t. Plus, my concentration levels have plummeted massively. Your mission to cut out all distractions sounds really interesting, I hope it goes well and look forward to hearing more!

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    1. Thanks for your comment, I’m back from my media holiday now and it has overall been a really positive experience. I definitely recommend it for tackling that feeling of information overload. Don’t be hard on yourself though, our lives are so busy it can be hard to know where to start and hard to evaluate what’s going wrong with so many distractions. xx

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  2. Good luck! I don’t think I’m brave enough to ditch the TV/internet/books for a whole week, but it sounds like a really worthwhile exercise. Let us know how it goes!

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    1. Hi Katie, thanks for your comment. I’m not sure brave is really the right way of looking at it – crazy maybe? I feel really out of it now that I’m back and frantically trying to catch up with everything! It was actually quite doable in the end (except for reading, I found myself doing that without thinking!). I’ve written a post that discusses what it was like, if you are interested. xx

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  3. maddy@writingbubble says:

    Sounds like a very healthy plan to me! I look forward to hearing about it afterwards. Hope you have a great week. Xx

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    1. Thanks Maddy, all done and dusted as you know, now I’m just tidying up after myself! xx

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  4. Tim says:

    Will be really interested to read the results of this. I’ve often thought about doing something similar but I’m not sure I’d have the self-discipline to go properly cold turkey.

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    1. It was really hard Tim to go completely cold turkey, in fact I found myself occasionally reading without thinking (oops!), but in a sense I actually enjoyed it a bit to have a break from the social media side of things. I’m planning on trying to keep it all a bit more at arms length now, but we’ll see how that goes!

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  5. Like Tim, I’d be intrigued to do this but am sure I’d cave. Be interesting to read how you get on.

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    1. I wasn’t perfect, but it was a very interesting experience. I learned some interesting things and I’m making some changes to the how I do things. x

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