We are producing data at a very fast speed than we can consume it. We are bombarded daily by a deluge of notifications, news, feeds, pings, instant messaging, tweets, shares, stories, advertising etc. According to Domo’s Data Never Sleeps 5.0 infographic: “Data is on overdrive. It’s being generated at break-neck pace, flooding out of the dozens of connected devices we use every day, and it shows no signs of slowing down.” 90% of all data today was created in the last two years – that’s 2.5 quintillion byte of data per day.
90% of all data today was created in the last two years – that’s 2.5 quintillion byte of data per day.
One of the overarching benefit of dealing with information overload that we all seem to face is the ability to fully concentrate on what really matters and not been distracted by all the sound bites on social media, instant messaging and the like. Various authors have written beautifully on the subject of concentration, use of social and becoming indistractable. Here are some insights shared by my favourite authors on the these subject Matter.
The Information Overload Challenge
“An organized mind leads effortlessly to good decision-making”
McGill University Neuroscientist, and best-selling author Daniel J. Levitin PhD shared some staggering statistics and insights on information overload, in his 2014 book: Organized Mind : Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload. Levitin describes how the Information Age is drowning us with an unprecedented deluge of data, and uses the latest brain science to explain how the brain can organize this flood of information. He writes:
Today, we are confronted with an unprecedented amount of information, and each of us generates more information than ever before in human history.
“In 2011, Americans took in five times as much information every day as they did in 1986—the equivalent of 175 newspapers. During our leisure time, not counting work, each of us processes 34 gigabytes or 100,000 words every day. The world’s 21,274 television stations produce 85,000 hours of original programming every day as we watch an average of 5 hours of television each day, the equivalent of 20 gigabytes of audio-video images. That’s not counting YouTube, which uploads 6,000 hours of video every hour. And computer gaming? It consumes more bytes than all other media put together, including DVDs, TV, books, magazines, and the Internet.”
Five exabytes (5 × 1018) of new data were produced in January 2012 alone—that’s 50,000 times the number of words in the entire Library of Congress.
Just trying to keep our own media and electronic files organized can be overwhelming. Each of us has the equivalent of over half a million books stored on our computers, not to mention all the information stored in our cell phones or in the magnetic stripe on the back of our credit cards. We have created a world with 300 exabytes (300,000,000,000,000,000,000 pieces) of human-made information. If each of those pieces of information were written on a 3 x 5 index card and then spread out side by side, just one person’s share—your share of this information—would cover every square inch of Massachusetts and Connecticut combined.
Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity – David Allen
You can train yourself, almost like an athlete, to be faster, more responsive, more proactive, and more focused in dealing with all the things you need to deal with. You can think more effectively and manage the results with more ease and control. You can minimize the loose ends across the whole spectrum of your work life and personal life and get a lot more done with less effort. And you can make front-end decision making about all the stuff you collect and create standard operating procedure for living and working in this millennium.
Before you can achieve any of that, though, you’ll need to get in the habit of keeping nothing on your mind. And the way to do that, as we’ve seen, is not by managing time, managing information, or managing priorities. After all: you don’t manage five minutes and wind up with six; you don’t manage information overload—otherwise you’d walk into a library and die, or the first time you connected to the Web, you’d blow up; and you don’t manage priorities—you have them. Instead, the key to managing all of your stuff is managing your actions.
You don’t manage information overload—otherwise you’d walk into a library and die, or the first time you connected to the Web, you’d blow up; and you don’t manage priorities—you have them.
In Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked, Adam Alter, a professor of psychology and marketing at NYU, tracks the rise of behavioral addiction, and explains why so many of today’s products are irresistible. Though these miraculous products melt the miles that separate people across the globe, their extraordinary and sometimes damaging magnetism is no accident. The companies that design these products tweak them over time until they become almost impossible to resist.
Tech isn’t morally good or bad until it’s wielded by the corporations that fashion it for mass consumption. Apps and platforms can be designed to promote rich social connections; or, like cigarettes, they can be designed to addict. Today, unfortunately, many tech developments do promote addiction.
By reverse-engineering behavioral addiction, Alter explains how we can harness addictive products for the good—to improve how we communicate with each other, spend and save our money, and set boundaries between work and play—and how we can mitigate their most damaging effects on our well-being, and the health and happiness of our children.
Behavioral addiction consists of six ingredients: compelling goals that are just beyond reach; irresistible and unpredictable positive feedback; a sense of incremental progress and improvement; tasks that become slowly more difficult over time; unresolved tensions that demand resolution; and strong social connections.
46 percent of people say they couldn’t bear to live without their smartphones (some would rather suffer physical injury than an injury to their phones
Solutions – Infomation Overload
Some of the solutions proffered include Digital Minimalism, Deep Work and a world with email by Cal Newport, Becoming Indistractable as advocated by Nir Eyal, Deleting Social Media account as argued by Jaron Lanier in Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now.
In his 2016 book, Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World, computer science professor at Georgetown University Cal Newport argued that the knowledge sector was undervaluing concentration. While the ability to rapidly communicate using digital messages is useful, the frequent disruptions created by this behaviour also make it hard to focus, which has a bigger impact on our ability to produce valuable output than we may have realized.
Deep work is the ability to focus without distraction on a cognitively demanding task. It’s a skill that allows you to quickly master complicated information and produce better results in less time. Deep Work will make you better at what you do and provide the sense of true fulfillment that comes from craftsmanship.
Shallow Work: Noncognitively demanding, logistical-style tasks, often performed while distracted. These efforts tend to not create much new value in the world and are easy to replicate.
Digital Minimalism is a philosophy of technology use in which you focus your online time on a small number of carefully selected and optimized activities that strongly support things you value, and then happily miss out on everything else.
The Digital Minimalist:
- If a new technology offers little more than a minor diversion or trivial convenience, the minimalist will ignore it. Even when a new technology promises to support something the minimalist values, it must still pass a stricter test:
Is this the best way to use technology to support this value? If the answer is no, the minimalist will set to work trying to optimize the tech, or search out a better option.
- By working backward from their deep values to their technology choices, digital minimalists transform these innovations from a source of distraction into tools to support a life well lived. By doing so, they break the spell that has made so many people feel like they’re losing control to their screens.
- They tend to be incredibly wary of low-value activities that can clutter up their time and attention and end up hurting more than they help. Minimalists don’t mind missing out on small things; what worries them much more is diminishing the large things they already know for sure make a good life good.
World without Email
Whereas email overload emerged as a fashionable annoyance in the early 2000s, it has recently advanced into a much more serious problem, reaching a saturation point for many in which their actual productive output gets squeezed into the early morning, or evenings and weekends, while their workdays devolve into Sisyphean battles against their inboxes—a uniquely misery-inducing approach to getting things done.
Being indistractable isn’t about being a Luddite. It’s about understanding the real reasons why we do things against our best interests.
There are four steps to hacking back your smartphone and saving yourself countless hours of mindless phone time. The best part is that implementing this plan takes less than an hour from start to finish, leaving no excuse for calling your phone distracting ever again.
Phubbing is the act of snubbing someone you’re talking with in person in favor of your phone.
STEP 1: REMOVE
The first step to managing distraction on our phones is to remove the apps we no longer need.”
STEP 2: REPLACE
The idea here is to find the best time and place to do the things you want to do. Just because your phone can seemingly do everything doesn’t mean it should.”
STEP 3: REARRANGE
Now that we are left only with our critical mobile apps, it’s time to make our phones less cluttered and, consequently, less distracting. The aim is that nothing on our phones is able to pull us away from traction when we unlock our devices.
STEP 4: RECLAIM
Change the notification settings for each app. Be very selective regarding which apps can send you sound and sight cues. Learn to use your phone’s Do Not Disturb settings.
- Sound—An audible notification is the most intrusive. Ask yourself which apps should be able to interrupt you when you are with your family or in the middle of a meeting.”
- Sight—After sound, visual triggers are the second most intrusive form of interruption