I am famous in our house for being unable to cope with two many simultaneous audio inputs. How people can cope with TV, game on their phones and conversation at the same time I have no idea. I get overloaded with audio information about 2 devices ahead of anyone else.
But it’s not just audio. Now that my boys are at two different secondary schools I have 3 different weekly email newsletters (2 from one school) and 3 different apps that give me information about behaviour, achievement points, dinner money and letters, as well as two different online learning environments (and that’s before the information sent out on school social media). We joke that it’s a full-time job but at the same time get nervous when information doesn’t arrive.
In general, the amount of information available increases by at least 2.5 quintillion bytes of data is every day (that’s 2.5 followed by a staggering 18 zeros!). Obviously only a small part of that is relevant or available to us as individuals but even so there’s a lot out there. We both crave it and hate it at the same time. There are times when I just want to turn everything off and go for a walk without any noise or lie in a darkened room wrapped in something soft and warm. But it’s also addictive – when the information flow slows, I start to feel twitchy and check my phone. When did we get so dependent on having so much information (dependent either in needing to know or in addiction)?
I am starting to be aware of just how addicted I am to information. And awareness of something can be the first step to making a change. The advantage of being a coach is that I can sometimes use coaching techniques on myself to make changes, and other times I can call on my network of fellow coaching trainees for help. Questions they would ask would include:
- What is it that you are worried about missing out on?
- Which bits of information do you really need? And when do you need it?
- When do you notice a particular issue with information overload or seeking information?
- What would you like to do with that time that you spend on information?
I’ve identified that trigger points are around school information because I don’t want the boys to miss out on stuff (FOMO on their behalf but probably a projection of my own FOMO). I have learnt that I am far more likely to seek information if I have only a few minutes before my next appointment or task so I don’t feel it’s worth doing something bigger. Information overload is usually audio input rather than any other form. I’d like to read fiction. I’ve yet to figure out the steps I need to change, but I’ve taken the first ones. Just so long as I don’t go seeking more information on what to do….