Do You Ever Feel Like This?

September 1, 2008

Is Too Much Information A Good Thing?

Do you ever feel like you’re trying to take in so much info that your brain might explode? I’ve felt like that a lot lately. I read some amazingly useful stuff everyday. But trying to break it down into manageable chunks and store only what is necessary, is becoming a bit of a challenge.

Storing this information in a swipe file, or digital swipe file is one way to keep the stuff you want to remember. But separating it in your mind from the stuff you want to forget is not so easy. Do you ever feel overwhelmed by information overload? How do you deal with it?

And What Do You Do When You Feel Absolutely Knackered?

Lately, I’ve been feeling exhausted. If you’re not careful, it’s easy to take on too much. And when you find yourself pushing important stuff to the back of the pile, whilst you try to honour commitments made to other people, you begin to feel the strain.

As well as trying to break the habit of taking on too much, I guess, it’s important to choose your commitments wisely. And make sure that you place just as much importance on promises you make yourself, as those made to others. Do you exhaust yourself by taking on too much sometimes. How do you deal with it?

Are you struggling to deal with some of these things right now? Or do you always manage to keep on top of things?

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Image Credit:
Alexander Steffler

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22 Responses to “Do You Ever Feel Like This?”

  1. Scott McIntyre on September 1st, 2008 5:31 am

    This is very timely for me, Cath, as I explore an ever increasing amount of stuff online.

    I’m aiming to develop good habits early on… information overload can be overwhelming…

    It will be very useful to hear of other’s tips.

    (Trying out your Akismet suggestion, Cath)

    Scott McIntyre’s last blog post..By: Scott McIntyre

  2. Marelisa on September 1st, 2008 5:37 am

    Hi Cath: Information overload is something a lot of us face with internet access, 24-hour news channels, twitter, and so on. I think that we need to accept that we can’t do it all, prioritize so that we focus on what’s important to us, and be kind to ourselves when we let secondary things fall by the wayside. I just published a post on keeping your brain healthy, and two of the best things we can do is relax (stress kills brain cells) and get enough sleep (lack of sleep impairs concentration, memory, and the ability to learn).

    I decide what I want to focus on and remember, I organize that data, and the rest of the information is easily accessible on the internet should I choose to look for it. Thank you for linking to my swipe file post :-)
    Marelisa’s last blog post..15 Brain Hacks - Gym and Spa for Your Brain

  3. Vered on September 1st, 2008 5:42 am

    I agree with Mare: it’s a natural side effect of the internet.

    I’m naturally a very organized person, so I’m doing relatively OK.

    But I don’t get nearly as much sleep as I need. Consider this: it is now almost 11pm and I am still sitting at my computer going over my feed reader.

    I wish I had the answer.

    Vered’s last blog post..Will You Tell Me A Little Bit About Yourself?

  4. Barbara Swafford on September 1st, 2008 6:18 am

    Hi Catherine,

    Like most others, since I started blogging, I’ve had to set priorities. I know how much I can handle on a daily basis, and decide when and if, I want to add more. Although I know there’s so much more I could do to promote my blog, I don’t, knowing I can’t do it all, and do it all well.

    Does that make sense?

    Like Vered (we’re on the same time zone) for me it’s 11:17 pm and I just now opened my reader. Thank goodness tomorrow is a holiday. :)
    Barbara Swafford’s last blog post..Plugins, Questions and Open Mic

  5. Kelly@SHE-POWER on September 1st, 2008 6:50 am

    I really do struggle with the notion of balance. Like all women with a family, I wear many hats: mother, housekeeper, cook, driving service, wife, money manager, freelance writer, budding novelist, blogger, daughter, friend, social organiser. Just thinking about it makes me tired, but funny enough I think I am better at balance now than I was before I had my son.

    Looking back on my life pre-motherhood, I was always the type to put a tonne of things on my plate and then try to juggle them. Much of my twenties I was working, studying,striving to succeed, writing, partying and just always on the go. I was very driven, always on some self improvement kick and had a hectic life where I never prioritized my own health and sanity. Until my late 20s I was a drug user too, so that did me no favors. Inevitably all these commitments would have me falling apart with exhaustion, and to rejuvenate I’d go off backpacking for a few months. Then come back and start again. Crazy.

    Now I am much better at putting things in their place. I don’t overload myself with commitments, I say “no” more often, I take much better care of myself and I keep my priorities in check. Blogging did start to take up loads of my time for awhile there and I was a slave to my Google reader, but I’m much better now. I realise I could probably be a much more successful blogger if I put more time and thought into how to grow and position my blog, but that’s just not my main priority now.

    SHE-POWER is a nice size, it has brought me great friends and is good fun. The world won’t end if I skip a post and I tell myself that every time I start to feel overloaded with my life. This is where things have to give. And that’s okay.


    Kelly@SHE-POWER’s last blog post..A Weekend Funny: My Living Will

  6. Leanne Magraith | Forever Change on September 1st, 2008 6:57 am

    I am usually pretty good at recognising the early signs of feeling overloaded and find that if I pull back from some sort of internet based activity this helps.

    For example in the last month or so I have spent hardly any time on StumbleUpon and no time on Digg. I prefer to spend my limited time catching up on reading and making the occasional comment on blogs.

    Leanne Magraith | Forever Change’s last blog post..Recharging Your Batteries

  7. Lance on September 1st, 2008 9:00 am

    Overload…I’ve been there (maybe I’m still there!). We live in a world where information is so easily accessible. I think the key is to determine what really is important to you, and then find a way to keep the information organized. Maybe it’s electronic, maybe it’s on paper. I like electronic methods, and tend to mark things electronically that I want to be able to refer back to. Yet, still this is not ideal for me. I still have a hard time finding information I know I’ve seen before.

    Lance’s last blog post..Sunday Thought For The Day

  8. Tom Volkar / Delightful Work on September 1st, 2008 11:39 am

    It can appear as though the Internet is the cause of overload but it is not. The Internet is an opportunity. The choices we make and don’t make contribute to the sense of overwhelm we feel.

    Of course I don’t always manage to keep on top of things. Sometimes like my desk, they get stacked up on the side. Occasionally just to show who is in charge I’ll go in and delete 200-300 unread emails and feel great about it.

    In times of near overwhelm it’s important to put things in perspective and let yourself off the hook. This is not a race and if it were we’d all be losing.

    Just set the real priorities and hit them. By doing so a feeling of competence returns. Everything else is a choice to take on or let go. By making that choice you’ll feel better, at least I do. I think it’s having too many things on our plates without choosing and acting that causes the overwhelm.

    Tom Volkar / Delightful Work’s last blog post..Time to Walk Away?

  9. cathlawson on September 1st, 2008 12:32 pm

    Hi Mare - you’re welcome. There’s a lot of info to absorb isn’t there? And I guess I shouldn’t be complaining - before the Internet, if I wanted to look something up, I had to go to the library.

    I’ll be checking out your article. The swipe file one you did had some great ideas for collecting and storing useful info.

    Hi Vered - I can tell that you’re organised. But all that reading can be time consuming can’t it? In my feed reader, I have different sections and the one with blogs I try to read regularly had over 600 sites in it. I think it definitely needs cutting down.

    Hi Barbara - Blogging is time consuming isn’t it. Like you, I don’t do enough to promote my blog. But there’s so many other things to do isn’t there?

    Hi Kelly - Reading what you’ve said about cramming stuff in, it seems you were a lot like me when you were younger. It must have been even harder if you were taking drugs all the time though.

    A few of you have mentioned the time taken reading blogs. I think that is an area I can definitely cut down on. I did cut down on it drastically a while ago and it didn’t affect my stats I suppose.

    I agree that your blog is a good size - especially if you aim to promote your novel on it. The good thing is that your community will tell people about it too, so the effects will be multiplied.

    Hi Leanne - You can save a lot of time not digging and stumbling can’t you? I’m lucky - I’m banned from StumbleUpon and I really don’t like Digg.

    Hi Lance - it’s annoying when you’re trying to find something and it’s not exactly where you thought it was isn’t it? You waste so much time looking for things. I’m interested in the idea of the electronic swipe file that Mare mentioned.

    Hi Tom - That’s a really good point. We can’t blame the Internet for making us absorb too much info.

    I’ve hit the delete button on my emails so many times too and I’m still alive. If anything is really important - people will call you won’t they.

    I think I’m going to do what you suggest and take another look at my priorities, choose the important ones and just choose whether to do the other things. Thanks.

  10. chris on September 1st, 2008 3:41 pm

    Here’s my frustration. I love reading and visiting blogs but I can’t keep up. I really want to be out there and comment but I just can’t find enough time to do it. From balancing work and family, there’s just not enough time during the day. So I made the decision to try to produce quality posts and hopefully my regular readers help me out in marketing my blog.

    chris’s last blog post..Bottom Falling Off, Part 5

  11. Lin Burress on September 1st, 2008 4:05 pm

    I can so relate to information overload. I think my biggest struggle has been just having the time to read blog posts of those I’m subscribed to, and then there’s the commenting part of it. I simply cannot read every single post on every blog I’m subscribed to, so I just have to rely on the post title to be one that really draws me in.

    Whether it’s Twitter or StumbleUpon or whatever other social networking that I do, I have to pick and choose the what, when, where and how of participating in those things. Writing quality posts takes a lot of time and effort (especially since I work full time), so my primary focus has to be on writing posts. Then comes time spent reading other posts and commenting.

    Finding the right balance is always a challenge, and sometimes I disappear from Twitter for a few days straight just so I can accomplish the task of focusing on writing.

    Lin Burress’s last blog post..Hurricane Gustav: How You Can Help Hurricane Gustav Evacuees

  12. Amy Derby on September 1st, 2008 4:39 pm

    Cute cute doggy. :-)

    Information overload. Yes, I suffer from that. I can still remember all the telephone extensions of the lawyers I worked for as a receptionist in 1999. My own social security number or phone number? That I have to think about…

    Getting away from technology helps me “de-stuff” but otherwise I haven’t found a real cure.

    Amy Derby’s last blog post..Corporate Jungle: Communication Survival Kit

  13. cathlawson on September 1st, 2008 6:28 pm
    Hi Rita - I know what you mean about those time saving things. Look at email. It should be quicker than typing and printing a letter, but it takes far more time because people send more of them.

    And microwave ovens - if you’re cooking a few things it takes longer than the conventional oven.

    Hi Chris - that’s a smart idea. It’s impossible to do everything isn’t it? And like you say - folk will link to you and stumble you etc.

    Hi Lin - I know what you mean. And commenting on each one takes even more time, as you’ve got to click through to the post etc . Alot of the time i read and don’t comment, or go back later.

    Hi Amy - Wow - that is a long time remembering. I wonder how just how much our brains are able to store - if we could measure it in Gigabytes?

  14. Ellen Wilson on September 1st, 2008 6:28 pm

    Hi Cath,

    Read your biscuit sex post. Ha!

    Yeah, Oprah should be president of the US. She would get the shit together. And she could still keep her show and we would all talk about it.

    Today I feel quite burned out. I really need to go take a walk and I would like to to the bookstore.

    I know I can’t keep full steam ahead all the time and things run in cycles but sometimes I am too hard on myself. PMS yes.

    So today I think I’ll get some research done and get on with some more writing tomorrow. I try to switch it up with my energy level.

    Honestly, I don’t know how you bloggers who post everyday do it.

    Ellen Wilson’s last blog post..The Disappearing Barns of the Midwest

  15. Alex Fayle on September 1st, 2008 7:29 pm

    I hate research. I don’t do it. I tend to skim. I pull off bits of information from here and from there. I’m also very picky about what I’ll actually read through. If my attention starts sliding, I look at what I’m reading again and quickly decide if it’s my mood - then I bookmark it and come back to it - or close the tab.

    I have too much information to digest to waste my time with stuff that doesn’t engage me, no matter how popular or how much it connects with others.

    Alex Fayle’s last blog post..Connecting Desires with Actions: James Chartrand Interview

  16. Barbara Ling, Virtual Coach on September 1st, 2008 7:33 pm

    I simply try to listen to my body.

    I know myself well enough to realize I go full steam for about 2-3 weeks and then crash for 24 hours or so. During that crash day, I tell my kids, Mom is off-duty, and I give myself permission to take a break and relax.

    It’s a weird way of handling things but often does work quite well indeed.

    Hang in there!


    Barbara Ling, Virtual Coach’s last blog post..Teamwork is spelled F-A-M-I-L-Y

  17. Cath Lawson on September 1st, 2008 7:52 pm

    Hi Ellen - I loved doing that post. Oprah would be amazing - but she probably wouldn’t get in because she’s too honest.

    Blogging every day is tough - and a lot of the time you compromise on quality because of it.

    I know what you mean about the PMS - it’s one of those weeks that’s difficult to work isn’t it?

    Hi Alex - that sounds like a smart thing to do. Research can be heavy going can’t it? Academic research is worse, because you naturally find yourself questioning the validity of every single thing you read. Now - I’ve just noticed you’ve interviewed James C - that will make interesting reading.

    Hi Barbara - it’s funny but i was thinking about you as I wrote this because you’re always so full of energy. That crash day sounds like a good idea though.

    Cath Lawson’s last blog post..Do You Ever Feel Like This?

  18. Kelly@SHE-POWER on September 1st, 2008 9:50 pm

    Every time I read Tom Volkar’s posts and comments, I think he’s such a wise man, and I agree with him about this too. The internet is a wonderful opportunity for connection and growing our sphere of influence and if we make it another unmanageable stress in our life that is our choice. it doesn’t have to be that way. It’s all about setting priorities that work for you and where you want to go.

    I’ve decided to make my novel a higher priority now so the blog has moved down the list. Not that means I’ll stop posting or anything. I plan to keep the same 2-3 times a week schedule, but I’m not going to feel like a loser if I post less. And I’m going to work out a system to be much more efficient with my commenting and probably stick mostly to my friends.

    We have so much to occupy our attention in the computer age that I think we have to be very conscious about our choices. This is a great topic to focus on Cath, very relevant for us bloggers and blog readers.


    Kelly@SHE-POWER’s last blog post..SHE-POWER Women: Monika Mundell is the Writing Chef

  19. Cath Lawson on September 2nd, 2008 3:14 am

    Hi Kelly, Thanks - this isn’t the post I’d planned for yesterday, but I woke up thinking - surely other people must be feeling this way.

    Tom Volkar is brilliant isn’t he? I print out most of the stuff he writes on his own blog. I wish he would write a book. And I can definitely see the sense in using his life coaching services in the future.

    Making your novel a priority now is a smart move - especially as you already have 3 drafts done. Your blog will serve as a great marketing tool for your work and while it’s great to spend as much time on marketing as we can - you can’t spend all your time on it.

    Cath Lawson’s last blog post..Do You Ever Feel Like This?

  20. Davina on September 2nd, 2008 5:10 am

    Hi Cath. Information overload is a big problem for me. And I do feel very overwhelmed with blogging. If I didn’t enjoy it so much I’d quit.

    My apartment looked like a cyclone hit today as I was packing. While I was packing, my mind was off somewhere, fragmented, thinking about all the hundreds of other things I still had to do.

    I took a coffee break with a friend and he mentioned how “completion” is a powerful tool. That made me realize that the information overload I’ve been feeling is due to my own mental reruns. I have to do this, and this and this (repeat). I’m my own worst enemy!

    Manage that mind I say! Invest 10 minutes to make a list of what needs to be done and prioritize. Then stop thinking about it all. That wears me down to exhaustion.

    I’m happy now! The packing is done and I can do some blogging now (saved the best for last). I have 2 articles to write before tomorrow. Yikes!

    Davina’s last blog post..Swinging Full Circle?That’s Life

  21. Ellen Wilson on September 3rd, 2008 1:05 am

    Yeah, Oprah is honest. Why can’t we have honest politicians though? What bullshit. Anyway…

    This is what I like to do. Come back to the conversation, see who has joined, see what you said. This is less stressful to me.

    I feel exactly like Kelly does. I can’t have my energy scattered all over. I’ve been focusing on my novel in the morning and other work during the day.

    And Tom is right. We don’t have to treat the Internet like an addiction. It is a tool. Why should we let the tools rule?

    Ellen Wilson’s last blog post..The Disappearing Barns of the Midwest

  22. Mark Dykeman on September 3rd, 2008 3:51 pm

    My feelings on information overload vary by the day - I’m currently not feeling overwhelmed, but it’s mainly because I’ve decided not to worry too much about it and that seems to be working. I do use a combination of Google Reader, Delicious, StumbleUpon and personal bookmarking to track stuff but, to be honest, most of it is repetitive. I’m sure the pendulum will swing back the other way soon enough!

    Mark Dykeman’s last blog post..Social media magicians give away their best tricks

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