Lately, I have definitely been on information overload. It’s getting to that point in the semester that I feel like I can’t think straight. There is so much to do, and I am struggling more than ever to concentrate on one thing for an extended period of time. My focus is so off. Part of it is because I really need a break. I could use some time at home and time away from writing papers and plowing through never-ending required readings. But it’s also because I just have a lot on my mind.
An article I found from Forbes called, “10 Steps to Conquering Information Overload” stuck out to me, because I realized that is exactly what I was experiencing. In one my classes last year, I learned about the concept of cognitive overload, which is due to the massive amount of information and stimulation we have on a regular basis. There is so much we can focus on at one time that it can be hard to really buckle down and pay attention to one task. I decided to do one of the exercises the article, and write down the things that were consuming my thoughts.
This is what I took away from it, and what I think it most effective way to get the full benefits from the exercise.
Let it flow out
It is easy to stop and think things through. Avoid this at all costs. The best way to get your thoughts out is to just keep writing. It doesn’t matter if it comes out sloppy or doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t even matter if it is one giant sentence with a series of comma splices that would make your high school English teacher hurl. Keep in mind, no one else is going to be reading this.
Be honest with yourself
Since no one else is reading it, you need to be as honest as possible. This can be the hardest step. Once you put it down on paper it becomes real. If there is something you have been thinking or feeling that you haven’t admitted to yourself, this is the best way to do it. It is scary, but it’s worth it. If you are lying to yourself, you are wasting your time.
It can get tedious and take a long time, but it is worth it. If you quit before you have gotten everything out, you might miss something important. When I wrote everything out it wasn’t until the very last thing I wrote that I realized what I was really concerned about.
Don’t get caught up in the details
Remember, this is for you. You don’t need to clarify all of the little details like you would when you are telling a story. You want to write everything you are thinking down, but you don’t need to go so in depth that you crank out a short memoir during this exercise.
Like I said, it wasn’t until the last thing I wrote down that I realized why my thoughts were so scattered. Sometimes in attempt to find a solution, you keep thinking about something over and over again. Maybe you have a moment replaying in your mind or you are thinking through possible scenarios. Either way, putting it to paper can help you thoughtfully articulate why something is stuck on your mind. Look back at what you wrote down, and pay attention to the points that seem new or can explain why you haven’t been able to think clearly.
Whether you have too much going on at work or a decision that you haven’t been able to make, it is important to take the time to clear your mind. In the end, you will save yourself a lot of time and energy. It’s time to focus on what you need to get done, and figure out what you really want.
What do you do to clear your mind? Have you ever tried something like this?
P.S. Check out “How Yoga Changed My Life” for more tips on de-stressing.
*Title credit to my wonderful roommate and friend, Kenzie. Thanks for the inspiration. 🙂