Information Overload in our Digital World

By Darrell Cook

The world today is experiencing information overload. Our daily lives are littered with incredible amounts of messages and stimuli that crowd our information processing to the point of breaking. If we try to pinpoint the source of all our stress, tension and even indecision, we might find that the culprit is the microchip. Advancing technology has created these vast information doorways with their never-ending corridors. We have built upon ways to gather, collect, formulate and dispense information more quickly than ever before in history. Google has changed the way we search for information; Apple has changed the way we surf the Web; and Facebook has changed the way we communicate. However, our capacity for taking on this plethora of content often feels insurmountable.

In order to manage all this information, we must develop our mental capabilities in ways that combat complexity. In short, we need to work on building habits that promote clarity and purpose to help us resurrect simplicity in our daily lives and dismiss the clutter that invades our grey matter on a regular basis.

Lately, I have been able to spend time with very successful people who have mastered their information traffic jam, and there seems to be a common pattern. Listed below are three helpful strategies to guide you away from a potential information overload problem.

Being present

Being present is about being in the moment and not living in the past or stargazing into the future. In our daily lives, information overload often creates vision and hope for great ideas, but it’s more important to focus on what’s happening right now. Think about conversations you have with people and how they feel when you are “in the moment” with them. They probably feel really connected to you. As a result, your relationship with them is heightened. You learn more about each other, and chances are they will want to promote you to others. Being present also generates a tremendous amount of consciousness, providing you with the energy and decision-making abilities that result in quick action. Being present is, above all, the most important step in dealing with information overload.

Removing complacency from success

After many years of coaching people, I have often found that when failure occurs, it springboards people into another gear, almost like adding rocket fuel. The emotions derived from failure spark action and drive people into a more focused mindset of deliverability. Conversely, I have also seen how brief encounters with success can act as a sedative for many. Often, people think that immediate success is sure to happen. Unfortunately, within an information-overloaded world, success is never sustaining. The competitive nature of our offerings and intellectual capital are soon captured online and our advantage is diminished rapidly. Successful people combat these issues by maintaining an “edge” or injecting a sense of urgency into innovative ideas. Keeping the focus on the added value of your unique skill in today’s business world will definitely separate you from the pack.

Leading in a digital world

Ask a good question and you will get a good answer. This adage is extremely important when you want to cut through all the clutter and complexity of problems that exist today. Successful people know how to ask the right questions, not necessarily the obvious ones. As information bombards us daily, it’s hard to determine whose opinions are the best. Although opinion makers in a digital world are quite well regarded, it is the leaders who dictate change and innovation. Leadership is about influence. The ability to set a direction, communicate it widely and, most of all, ask good questions to refine the direction is important. Leaders today know that teamwork is more important than ever, and that good teams create great results. At the root of it is the ability to know which questions need to be asked and acted upon.

Technology has propelled us forward faster than we could have imagined twenty years ago. Ironically, we are educating our youth about the future when we have no idea what’s in store for us. The world is an exciting new backdrop for bits and bytes of global content. It will be interesting to see how we navigate the tidal wave of information as the speed of communication continues to escalate. Buckle up -- we are in for a bumpy ride!

Darrell Cook is Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Conversys. His focus is to steward the North American growth for Digital Promotions Marketing. His career spans a wide range of technology and Internet companies throughout North America and the UK. From small start-ups to Fortune 500 firms, Darrell excels at bridging offline business processes with effective online channels. He is currently a Board of Director of the Retail Advertising and Marketing Club of Canada (RAC), and former Board of Director of the Internet Advertising Bureau of Canada.

By Adam

January 06, 2012