January 16, 2014

Thanks, but I’m not Pinterested: 5 Ways to Manage Information Overload.

I am a rather tech savvy gal, if I do say so myself.

I was on Friendster and MySpace way back when those networks were the place to be. I downloaded music from Napster in my college dorm room. I’ve kept one blog or another for over 10 years, can get around on Google apps in a flash and am a (conflicted) Facebook maniac.

For whatever reason, and however cool I’m sure the sites are, I just cannot deal with any more. It’s all too much!

So, no, I don’t want to connect with you on LinkedIn.

I can’t handle Pinterest; all the uplifting quotes and precious décor ideas make my head spin.

I am staunchly anti-Instagram.

And—at the risk of sounding geriatric—try as I may, I really just don’t get Twitter. #hashtagsannoyme

If, like me, you’re easily overwhelmed by the flashing lights and plethora of super cool sites, here are five suggestions for avoiding information overload.

1) Unsubscribe from unnecessary lists and sites.

Take stock. Which websites and e-newsletters do you enjoy and benefit from? Which are superfluous?

With the latest gmail update, social and promotional emails are automatically filtered into separate folders, which I love. Still, unsubscribing from annoying lists and cancelling unwanted accounts feels empowering and only takes a few clicks.

2) Disconnect—and be more connected.

Decide on a daily time to turn off your WiFi (and shut down your devices if you have G3 or G4 or whatever).

Maybe it’s those couple of hours in the morning or afternoon when you’re feeling the most productive and can get some offline shit done, whether it’s writing, housekeeping or bonding with your kids. Maybe it’s a certain time in the evening, after which you’ll be doomed to have a real-live conversation or—gaspread an actual book.

Ironically, by disconnecting from the web, we can more meaningfully connect with ourselves and our loved ones.

3) No news is good!

News conglomorate websites (ahem, HuffPost and Slate, among many others) want advertisers, and advertisers want your clicks. Hence, they resort to sensational headlines about the most terrible local news stories from around the globe, such as “Woman, 25, Plunges To Death While Posing For Picture”—an example I found after a 30-second scroll down my news feed.

I am sorry for that young woman who so tragically died, but our minds are not equipped to process all the news, from everywhere, all the time. I’m not saying to only read positive stories and avoid all negative or depressing topics. Rather, can we be more mindful about what we are choosing to read and absorb?

My advice is to go on a media retreat. Will it be a day, a week, a month or longer? You choose. Deactivate your Facebook account if you have one. (Don’t freak out; it’s not the same as deleting and you can pick right back up where you left off when you log in again.)

Make a mindful effort not to ingest any news. Don’t keep up with current events or the weather forecast. If something earth-shattering occurs, fear not—you’ll hear about it.

4) Breathe and relax.

In other words, meditate! Absolutely nothing compares when it comes to curing overwhelm and overstimulation.

5) Get out the door.

Personally, I am on the computer quite a bit these days, forever writing and editing and sharing those shiny, polished words. But I take the time every evening to step away from the screen and stroll outside to watch the sunset with my daughter and husband. We say goodbye to the sun and hello to the moon.

Whether it’s for five minutes or three hours, go out of doors and breathe the fresh air. Notice the color of the sky. Listen to the birds. Take a walk with no destination.

The internet can be an incredible tool, but let’s make sure we’re the ones in control of our media use and consumption.

That’s it for now—I’m off to watch the clouds drift across the sky.


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Editor: Catherine Monkman

Image: Simon Welsh/Flickr

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