social media overload

Image by Mark Smiciklas

These days, we are constantly exposed to information. In addition to all the regular human interactions that our brains must process, we now deal with the added layer of emails, news updates, phone calls, and other modern interruptions.

As news gets faster and the amount of content we consume increases, the idea of content overload is becoming a familiar problem for many of us. With so many sites, networks, and blogs out there posting updates every day, trying to keep up with it all can become exhausting.

In this post, we’ll discuss 6 steps you can take to help reduce the load and fight content overload.

But before we get into that, let’s discuss the amount of content we’re up against on daily basis.

How Much Content Are We Actually Dealing With?

We’re living in an age where almost everyone is asking for our attention online – our friends, our jobs, our news, and even the businesses we buy from. In fact, 90% of all the data in the world was generated in the last 2 years.

Have you ever thought about how much content you end up having to process each day? It adds up.

According to a study by LifeHack, the typical social media user consumes nearly 300 pieces of content daily, which equates to a staggering 54,000 words a day. For the most active users, a normal day could consist of as many as 1,000 clickable links per day.

LifeHack Infographic

View a full infographic of Lifehack’s study results here.

But social media content is only a part of the information we have to deal with on a daily basis.

Here’s a few more interesting facts to keep in mind:

  • Office workers spend 28% of their time dealing with emails.
  • People in the US, send or receive an average of 35 texts a day.
  • The typical internet users sees around 1, 707  banner ads in a month.
  • In 2012, over 5.3 trillion ads were served to U.S. users alone.

Being connected all the time has its advantages. You never have to miss out on important updates in both your personal and professional life, and you’re also able to constantly keep up with the latest news.

At the same time, there are definite downsides to all that connectivity. Information overload has been linked to social media fatigue, health problems related to stress, and even short-term memory loss.

So how do you keep from getting completely swamped?

Here are some tips to help you cope with content overload.

6 Helpful Tips to Fight Content Overload

 1. Reduce the amount of content.

How much do you actually need to read every day? If you’re feeling overwhelmed, chances are it’s because you’re trying to fit too much content into your daily routine. The reality is you don’t need to read everything.

Take a look at the sites you visit daily and try to cut down to the most important ones, unsubscribe from email newsletters, and opt out of certain social media updates to reduce the amount of content you have to get through.

2. Filter your sources.

This is similar to reducing the amount of information, but filtering lets you prioritize how you prioritize information. Instead of dealing with everything at the same time, set up a system that allows you to view different content at times that work for you. For example, focusing on specific topics, filtering your email, and using automated tools are great ways to help you separate and prioritize specific information.

3. Set a schedule for yourself.

Checking news updates and social networks constantly can disrupt your workflow and make it difficult to focus on tasks. Instead, work specific times for this activity into your daily routine. Choose times in your schedule when you know you’ll have the time to check up on news and social updates in peace.

4. Take regular breaks.

We’re not robots! So, make sure you step away from your desk regularly throughout the day to give yourself a break from the screen and allow your brain to recharge. If you’re looking for something a little different than a coffee break, iDoneThis suggests using your break to do something positive and work-related like complimenting a colleague about a job well-done.

5. Use the right tools.

You don’t have to manage your content single-handedly. That’s what great tools are for! We suggest using an RSS reader (like FlowReader) to manage your favorite sources. To help you with your networks, use a tool like HootSuite or Buffer to help you streamline how you share and monitor social media content. We also like apps like Zite or Prismatic for discovering content related to the topics you’re interested in.

6. Disconnect and recharge.

This is probably the most important thing to keep in mind: Give yourself time to unplug. Yes, that’s right. Turn off the sync on your phone, get away from the internet, and relax. It’s something that’s becoming harder to do, but the best remedy for content overload is to give yourself real downtime so you can feel refreshed when you have to dive in again.

What’s the most effective tip you have for dealing with content overload? 

We’d love to hear from you in the comments! You can also find us on Facebook or @flow_reader.