What is the optimal information diet

Information is available in abundance today. And never before have we actually "consumed" as much information as we do every day today. (Studies have come to the conclusion that a US citizen “consumes” an average of 100,000 terms a day.) But despite all the abundance: We are no more productive today than in the 20th century.

Alvin Toffler first used the term “information overload” in his bestseller “Future Shock” from 1970. Wikipedia describes information overload as “a person's condition of having too much information on a topic to make a decision to be able to meet ". Today, information overload is also a common expression in this country. Even more: it is a hotly debated topic. The flood of information is greater than ever, cripples decision-making processes - and costs huge sums of money. An American study comes to the conclusion that it costs US companies $ 650 billion a year to cope with the information overload.

In this fast-paced world, in which we are always “connected” and online, we lose the all-important “creative breaks”. Moments without time pressure, in which our mind can wander freely and sometimes think outside the box. Because this is the necessary breeding ground for the brilliant idea or the famous aha effect.

Information overload can even make you sick. And the sooner, the more you try to really process all the information that reaches us via PC, smartphone and other channels. The Dutch author Guus Pijpers described this very well in his book "Information Overload".

No problem? Then go for information withdrawal.

For a global study, students did without cell phones, the Internet and television for a day. The result: boredom, binge eating, discomfort. The study, which was carried out by the University of Maryland and the Salzburg Academy on Media & Global Change, even found outright withdrawal symptoms in around 20 percent of the participants. Ten percent reported "feeling isolated and left behind".

An extreme example, no doubt. We are looking for the way to deal with the flood of information properly!

But how do you stop the information overload?

You might think that the amount of information is the problem. Put simply: We all produce too much information and more and more people can no longer handle the information overload.

Clay Johnson disagrees. In his book "The Information Diet" he describes how we consume information for around eleven hours a day - some even more. Johnson believes that our problem is not the amount of information, but our consumer behavior. He makes this clear by comparing it with the phenomenon of obesity in our society: We did not blame food for this problem, but our eating habits. According to Johnson, we should also deal with information overload in the same way. Johnson's comparison also illustrates a short video:


How to: Five Steps to Control Information Overload.

Johnson makes excellent suggestions for dealing with the situation. Here are the top five steps.

1. step - Inventory. As is so often the case, it is a good idea to set the bar first before changing your habits. So try to get an idea of ​​how much information they are consuming. This includes the information that you intentionally include. So anything that requires you to press an on / off button, scroll, toggle, active listening or a click. It is best to write this down for a few days.

2. step - Get the TV out. Going on an information diet with a television set "is like a diet with a delivery subscription to a pizza service," says Johnson. Without a television you kill two birds with one stone: You get less advertising and it lowers the dangerous tendency to “sofa surfing”.

3. step - Adjust your consumption habits. Now we get to the heart of the matter. You have probably heard the slogan “eat regional products”; the same applies to media consumption. First come the things that are closest to you: family and friends, then regional and professional communities, then international - you know what is meant.

4. step - A few settings on your computer. Try to eliminate as much as possible: Unnecessary newsletters, notifications from Facebook or Twitter, desktop messages (e.g. Outlook), pop-ups ... throw off ballast. Regain the upper hand in terms of concentration at the computer. Do you need help with this? Johnson has put together a very helpful list of tools and tips for this.

5. step - No information your grandparents would not understand. Avoid highly refined stuff and go straight to the source. Stay away from articles and blogs without references.

We hope these steps will help you achieve your infodiet goals.