Monday, November 15, 2010

The Danger of Information Overload in Business - Why It's Time to Turn Off & Tune In

Mondays are always a great day for  introspection, because I kick off each Monday morning with my Copywriters' Mastermind group. Today the subject of "information overload" was brought up as a group. We concluded that the internet opens up SO MUCH information right at our fingertips that we feel overwhelmed and it's just too much. There are business gurus to follow, articles to read and social networking groups to join!  Ughhh, stop the madness!

The conversation continued as I chatted with a friend I hadn't see online lately. He mentioned he just needed to slide off the 'online grid'  in order to get his business ducks in a row. I know that feeling all too well. Online insta-communication is great, but it can be a double-edged sword - enough to make anyone's head spin off into dizzying directions!

As business professionals, there are days when we really need to turn off our laptops and mobile devices for a few minutes each day. We experience information overload every second of the day, and our monkey mind spins out of control. 

Instead of cramming as much information as possible into your noggin, take the time to turn off in order to tune in. As "free love" as that sounds, it's a healthy approach to take when you feel overwhelmed and can't stuff another fact into your brain.

Between webinars and text messaging, technology makes it very easy for us to communicate and connect on a regular basis. Google's CEO, Eric Schmidt, reports, "Every two days now we create as much information as we did from the dawn of civilization up until 2003. That’s something like five exabytes of data." 

That's a LOT of information we're creating and taking into our poor grey matter. Before you spend your lunch hour consuming the online version of Wall Street Journal, think about turning off the technology and tune into yourself - yes, a novel concept. If you don't take the time for yourself, no one else is going to do it for you. 

1. Walk away from your desk or computer station. Turn off your cell phone and go outside - even if you only have five minutes to spare, take a deep breath and feel the fresh air filling your lungs. As silly as it sounds, people forget to breathe - a deep, slow inhalation not only relaxes the body, but it rids the lungs of toxins and refreshes the brain.

2. Listen to soothing music. Stash the cell phone in your drawer, sink back into a comfortable chair (whether at home or at the office). Don't do any work. Play soft, soothing music for at least five to ten minutes. Close your eyes and just listen.  Music has a calming effect on the parasympathetic nervous system, and soft music relaxes both mind and body.

3. If possible, don't answer work emails or text messages at home. If your job is an "around-the-clock" type position, that might not be possible. But if you can, check out of your office role and check-in at home. Start slowly. Set a timer and make a promise to yourself not to check your Blackberry or laptop for 30 minutes. Make it a priority to relax - play with your dog, hang out with your family or just sit quietly/mediate without being disturbed.

I'm just as busy as the next person, and I find myself caught in the trap of information overload as well. I practice yoga on a regular basis and my teacher said something very prophetic last week that stuck with me: "Yoga is a work-in NOT a work-out."

This statement could be applied to your daily professional grind when it comes to information. We spend so much time focusing on the external - meet that goal, read that article, write that speech...that we forgot about our internal selves. By just taking a  few "ME"  minutes, your energy increases and makes you more productive in the long run - and puts a smile on your face!

Instead of tuning in all the time, give yourself permission to tune out - you'll definitely feel better!


  1. Looooved this post, T! I very often found myself very overwhelmed by the mountains of advice I was constantly bombarded with, so I accepted the fact that I can't read it all, can't keep up with all of the blogs and newspapers I subscribe to, and decided to opt for a more practical and realistic approach. I try to read at least one piece of interesting news a day, or one blog post (today I found yours!) and try to get my little nugget of wisdom or useful tip for the day. That way, I allow myself to tune out for the rest of the day, and I don't feel bad about it because I already met my daily quota. Thanks for sharing this, T!

  2. Thanks for commenting, Claudia. It helps to tune out a bit so you can tune in - and your brain doesn't explode either ha!


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