Do you suffer from digital overload?

Infopeople instructor Crystal Schimpf says, crystal_schimpf

Digital overload is something we all suffer from to some degree, regardless of age, experience, or level of tech knowledge. In fact, research shows that millenials are just as likely to suffer from digital overload as anyone else, partly because of the fact that millenials have grown up using technology. Digital overload is a result of the amount of technology and information we consume, regardless of how comfortable we are using technology. It is a serious issue, and if we don’t face it our work and our health will suffer.

toomuchinfoIn her upcoming course, Too Much Information: Managing Personal Digital Overload, Schimpf notes eight factors that can cause digital overload:

  1. Quantity of Information

“Technology has afforded us the ability to create information at a much, much faster rate than we can consume it. We must learn to accept that we won’t be able to process all that digital information floating around in cyberspace, and we must start making better choices about what we want to pay attention to.”

  1. Email and Other Online Communication Tools

“Communications make up a major portion of our information. Just think about how many email messages you receive each day (including all the junk email and spam). Having a huge number of messages in our inbox can be a source of stress—especially when we forget to respond to someone or miss a deadline. Without any systems in place, our inboxes go unchecked and grow out of control. We can’t control how much email we get, but we can control how we deal with it.”

  1. Number of Information Sources

“In today’s fast-paced working environment, the sheer number of information sources at our disposal means that it is easy to be overwhelmed with information. Here are some information sources you might currently subscribe to: Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, email, newsletters, and blogs, just to name a few. If we were to take all of the information from these sources and try to capture it, we would find ourselves in a virtual sea of information. However, the truth is not all information needs to be captured. Instead of trying to capture it all, look at each channel as a virtual stream that can be visited when you have time.”

  1. New Technologies

“Technology changes very fast. Every day there is an announcement about a new phone, a new gadget, a new software, a new website. How could we ever keep up with it all? It’s unrealistic to think we can learn every new technology. We will be better off if we reset our expectations when it comes to learning new technology.”

  1. Increased Connectivity

“Now that we are able to check our email, Facebook, Twitter, and RSS feeds from our mobile devices, it’s getting harder and harder to disconnect from all this information. We are always connected, always available, which contributes to the feeling of digital overload. Have you ever checked your email at the dinner table? Sent a text message while on a hike? Of course it is convenient to be connected all the time, but it doesn’t mean we have to be.”

  1. Multitasking

“We often think of multitasking as a desirable skill in the workplace, but the truth is that multitasking isn’t actually possible. Research shows that our brains are not actually able to perform more than one task at a time. When we think we are multitasking (perhaps by checking email, attending a webinar, and browsing our Twitter feeds), what we are actually doing is called “switch tasking.” There is a high cost to switch tasking, because every time you switch tasks your brain has to switch gears before proceeding. You are more likely to make mistakes, and it will take you longer in the process.”

  1. Distractions

“Distractions can be a big cause of digital overload, even if they are cute or funny (like that hilarious cat video you got sucked into watching while updating your library’s Facebook page). Distractions come from our wandering minds, from our work environments, and from our personal lives. Many distractions are technology-based, from notifications or from compulsively checking our email and social media. One study found that office workers typically check their email 30-40 times an hour.”

  1. Lack of Balance between Technology & Work/Life

“We often talk about balance between work and home life, with an emphasis on not overworking ourselves. Another type of balance to consider is between time spent with and away from technology—or perhaps the balance of how many different types of technology you choose to engage with. If we are out of balance and have too much technology in our lives, we may find our health and productivity suffering.”

Which of these factors are challenges that you face?

Learners in the upcoming course will discover ways to cope with digital information, learning to prioritize and develop new habits related to technology so that they can be more creative and productive.

The course begins December 8th and registration is now open! There are 2 weeks built into the course during which learners will be able to practice their new technology habits.