Our brain needs to process 5 times more information today than in 1985. Google and other search engines made information accessible quickly and efficiently.

We are overloaded with info. We simply feel that we cannot keep up. Every hour, 6000 new videos are published on YouTube and expected to double in the next year.

What does information overload mean?

1) We need to learn how to deal with information, learn information literacy. Filtering the information became an essential skill, selecting the relevant from irrelevant, noises from analysis, news from attention seekers, and quality from junk. We need to be challenging the information bias, what is the objectivity, motivation of the writer.

2) Above all, we need to be aware of the impact of this information overload. We need to realize what this means to our brain functioning and decision making process. Many researchers analyzed the impact recently and confirmed some serious implications.

I start with multi-tasking – which is our obvious solution and approach to information overload. Having a conference call when we are reading E-mails; reading or working when we are helping our children, etc.

Multitasking is a myth. Multitasking does not work. Attention switching depletes the fuel in the brain, which is glucose. Small decisions compete with big decisions in terms of brain functioning.

The impact is two-fold: a) People who are multi-tasking get less done. 2) They cannot attach the relevant weighting, importance to the information; consequently they are not likely to make a balanced decision.

Further, the information overflow forces linear thinking. The biggest challenges we are facing today, however, require nonlinear solutions. They require out of the box thinking, creativity and innovation. Recognizing this many innovative companies (like Google) encourage naps, play time, chat rooms during working hours etc). I wonder how we can create more awareness for others to follow.

What are the practical tips we can apply to protect ourselves and be more efficient:

1) Apply strong filtering on E-mails and reassess sources frequently. Subscribe for quality info from analytical sources (eg. The Economist, Strator) and junk the rest or automatically divert to another box that you can read at our leisure.

2) Protect our brain and do not read/memorize unnecessary info. Outsource to Google, notebooks, memory cards, etc.

3) Create an environment that encourages better brain functioning and problem solving; problem solving requires rest for the brain. Glucose needs to be built up in our brain, which will help and encourage non-linear thinking. We need to plan real breaks to facilitate that our brain can really wonder (e.g. exposing ourselves to nature, training, walking, literature, reading).

4) Learn to focus our attention. Learn to be at one place at one time with no attention split. Facilitate non interruptive time, turn off your phone, and create a state of undisrupted concentration. It requires strong discipline.

5) Prioritize. Sometimes slowing the space down and switching makes better decision. Timing can play an important role; e.g. deal with the big decisions in the morning.

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