When Information Becomes Clutter and Noise

Information Overload?

Clutter isn’t just on our shelves, in our closets, and on our calendars. In this thriving digital age, information is one of the most pervasive forms of clutter we deal with on a daily basis. From email from good intentioned friends and family about a video you “have to watch” to our social media feeds, breaking news, and everything in between, our brains are overloaded with data and information.

A sure sign of information overload is when you notice yourself skimming and scanning for key take aways instead of enjoying a good read, or at the end of reading something, you don’t remember what you read. Because more info is always a click away, we are constantly compromising the importance of being bored, curious, quiet, and thoughtful with …

  • more entertainment
  • more knowledge
  • more inspiration
  • more information

Information isn’t bad, but too much becomes clutter instead of the inspiration, education, or entertainment it’s meant to be. Instead, the constant stream of information just turns into noise.

Ask these questions to turn your info-clutter back to helpful, joyful, inspiring information.

Why?
Why do you watch the news every morning or evening? Why do you subscribe to certain blogs? Why do you read the newspaper? It’s important to ask the why questions about the information you consume.

For instance, “Why do I check Facebook on my phone when I am waiting for an appointment?” My answer is always … “because I am bored.” I can say with 100% certainty that I’ve never discovered anything important or life-changing on my phone while waiting for an appointment. It only filled the space.

Analyze your info consumption habits with lots of whys to discover why you consume what you do, and then consider what changes you to need to make. For me it was deleting apps on my phone, like Twitter and Facebook that were simply filling the space. For you it might be only checking email twice a day, or ditching the nightly news.

What?
It’s up to you to curate the information you consume. A passive approach of taking in everything that anyone recommends will assure that you have no time to figure out what you want or need in your life in terms of information. You’ll simply leap from email to email, channel to channel, and link to link.

It’s not up to you to keep up with the latest TV shows, movies, blog feeds, or even world news. Instead of consuming what’s available, engage in what means something to you.

When/Where?
If you read, listen, or watch everything that comes your way, it will be a challenge to absorb any of it, and impossible to take action. Limit what you take in, choose the information that adds value to your life, and then streamline when and where.

  • Delete apps from your phone that you only use to fill space and time and give your life room for boredom, curiosity and quiet.
  • Schedule reading/watching/listening time once a day or several times a week instead of doing it in-between things. Make it a priority instead of a distraction. It may feel like you are consuming less, but you get more out of it when you are engaged and focused.
  • Declare certain areas of your home and life off limits when it comes to consuming information like your car, bedroom, or another space that deserves to be distraction free.

Once you limit the amount of information and streamline when and where it’s coming from, schedule blocks of information-free time. A few hours a day, and a full day a week to unplug gives your mind a chance to recover and process.

Create space for silence.

Try a walk without your phone, turn off the noise during mealtime, and keeping TV, iPads, or other distractions out of your bedroom.

Unplug to nourish and refresh. The information will be there when you are ready.