The Causes and Consequences of Info Overload and How to Avoid it
What is information overload
Information overload is basically a situation in which users receive too much information at one particular time. It becomes difficult for the people to think new concepts and understand the concept in a clear way. It becomes difficult for the users to take effective decisions. Information overload term was coined by Bertram Dross in the year 1964. Information overload basically occurs when the capacity of processing the information exceeds its actual limit. Information overload is one of the common issues which is faced by everyone while collecting the information and automating the data over the internet. It is one of the major problems which is growing on the internet since its beginning. Enhancement in internet usage increases the storage capacity. While storing a large amount of data, users face the problem of overloading. It is important to resolve this issue while storing and accessing a large amount of information on the internet. If the information overload issue is not considered, then it will directly affect the information quality. Information overload stops an individual to perform one particular action. Therefore, users should look for the relevant and actual data which is useful and will help them in completing their actions and achieving the goals (Allen & Wilson, 2003).
Causes of information overload
There are different causes of information overload that affects the accurate information. Some of the main common reasons behind modern information overload include:
- The simplicity of creating, sharing as well as duplicating online information.
- Creating a huge volume of information
- Creating pressure and completing the information
- Increase in the number of channels to receive information via print media, radio, television, e-mail, mobile telephony, RSS feeds etc.
- The high volume of contradictory, conflicting and plain old inaccurate information.
- Lack of appropriate structure in the grouping as well as poor clues to the relationship between the groups (SALIM, 2003).
Ways to stop information overload
By recognizing the useful information and accessing that particular information will help to reduce the information overload issue. There are some of the steps which should be considered while recognizing the accurate information. Some of them include:
Set goals: Before accessing or sharing the information, it is important for an individual to have proper goals and objectives. If the user does not have a proper goal, then he/she will grab irrelevant data which will further lead to information overload. Therefore, setting a goal is one of the most profound tasks to get appropriate information without facing information overload issue. Therefore, by having proper goals, it becomes easy for an individual to set the strategies and tactics to successfully achieve their objective.
Should know which information can be skipped which accessing new information: once, the user selects a proper goal, strategies, plans, and tasks, it becomes easy for an individual to select which information is crucial and relevant. The individual should find that that information which he/she is accessing can be put into action or not. Whether the information will help him/her to perform the actions in an effective manner or not. If not, then that particular information is not useful. This step will further help an individual to have self-control.
Do not delay while storing the information: Individual should look for accurate information before taking any decision. By reading more and more information, the individual feels that they are able to enhance their knowledge which is not true Therefore, users should access only relevant and accurate data instead of facing information overload issue (Krol, 2018).
Symptoms that indicate information overload
It is important to absorb the information and get proper knowledge to achieve their goals and objectives. If absorption of knowledge is not done appropriately, then it can severely affect mental as well as physical well-being. Some of the symptoms, that indicate information overload is added below:
- Low mood or energy
- Increased blood pleasure
- Impaired vision
- The decrease in cognitive performance directly affects the decision-making skills
- It becomes difficult to concentrate
- Diminished productivity
- Vivid dreams
- Strong compulsion to check apps, emails, voicemails etc (J. Boorstin, 2018).
Avoiding information overload in design:
Different ways to avoid information overload in the design include:
- Keep it relevant
- Keep things simple
- Keep it clear
- Provide supporting information
- Provide balanced information
- Access the actions
Avoiding information overload ourselves
To ensure the fall victim to information overload, an individual should consider the following tactics:
- Feel free to take actions without the facts
- Feel free to ignore the information
- Creation of information queue and tackle it on a regular basis
- Learn to skim
- Filter information ruthlessly
- Delegate information responsibilities
- Allen, D., & Wilson, T. (2003). Information overload: context and causes. The New Review Of Information Behaviour Research, 4(1), 31-44. doi: 10.1080/14716310310001631426
- Boorstin, D. (2018). 10 Symptoms of Information Overload and How It Affects Your Brain & Body. Retrieved from https://www.learning-mind.com/information-overload-symptoms/
- Krol, K. (2018). How to Stop Information Overload. Retrieved from https://www.lifehack.org/articles/productivity/how-to-fight-information-overload.html
- SALIM, M. (2003). Information overload and its implications for a corporate library:. Retrieved from http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.99.8681&rep=rep1&type=pdf