A Simple Model to Deal with Information Overload

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Like most, every day I check my email, my multiple social channels, the news and sometimes even new viral videos to entertain me. The only difference is that I don't have a TV at home.

But that didn't prevent me from reaching a point in my life, where I began to feel depressed, tired and sick from information overload.

In my search for help on the internet, I ended up finding a model that gave me a clearer path on how to address the kind of information I needed to filter out from my life. [1]

The model, as you can see below, categorizes information in four quadrants based on sentiment and usefulness. And the shaded area represents the amount and type of information the author allows in his life.

Credit: Miguel Hernandez

Credit: Miguel Hernandez

However, the part that was hard for me to digest is the idea of ignoring the second quadrant―the negative news I can't do anything about.

But as German author Rolf Dobelli explains in a long essay [2], if the world were twice as big, there would be more news we wouldn't learn about because there is limited space on the homepage of news sites.

Also, passively consuming the news does nothing to improve the world, and on top, it makes us vulnerable to letting shallow breaking news shape our views.

Then, most social and global issues are so complex that require a deeper investigation to understand them. So one can either have a half-informed opinion about everything or fully understand some issues and be a more constructive member of society.

Finally, whether one chooses to filter the news or not, there will always be news that we miss. In the same way, even if one decides to avoid the news entirely, there will always be big news that we'll learn about anyways through word of mouth.

So even if we live in a world of unlimited information, that doesn't mean that we should consume more and more of it. And the model above offers a great solution to overcome information overload and regain new time, energy, and mental space in our lives.

References

  1. How to deal with information overload, Miguel Hernandez of Grumo Media
  2. Avoid News Towards a Healthy News Diet by Rolf Dobelli, 2012