Too Much Information Consumption

Do you ever suffer from too much information consumption? You know, from taking in the never ending stream that is thrown in front of your face and crammed into your head every day?

Yeah, I do to.

The worst part is that I know I’m to blame. I choose to fire up Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter during moments of downtime. I choose to read the blog posts and email blasts that appear in my inbox. I choose to listen to podcasts while I drive around town. I choose to read 3 books at a time. Yes, I choose my own massive amount of information consumption.

It’s not just overwhelming, it’s counterproductive. We spend the vast majority of our time consuming information, but spend hardly any time taking action on all that info. Most of it, we don’t do anything with at all. We consume, consume, consume, and very little — if anything — ever comes of it.

That’s why I’ve decided to cut my information consumption in half. I’m also going to double the amount of action I take on the information that I do consume. 

Take in less; do more with it. I’m convinced this will become my new winning formula. I know it won’t happen overnight, but I’m willing to take a few baby steps to get this crazy information consumption thing under control.

By the way, I’m also taking the same approach with the information I produce. Which is why today’s post is much shorter than usual.

Wanna play along? Here’s an action you can take right now: leave me a comment or ask me a question about this idea. I’d love to hear what this stirred up in you.

Superpowerfully yours,

P.S. I shot a short “Superpower Sunday” Facebook video on this topic if you’d like to hear me elaborate on this (but not too much, of course). Watch the video here.

16 replies
  1. Mary Pedigo
    Mary Pedigo says:

    I think this is a sanity-focused idea! however, being a creative, I fear that limiting my exposure to the multitude of sources and inspiration out there could impact my work in a negative way and make me feel like I’m not doing enough. How do you strike a balance of being open and aware of current information but filtering it so you don’t go nuts?

    Reply
    • Mark
      Mark says:

      Mary, I totally get where you’re coming from. As a “recovering creative” I have always believed that one of the keys to being/staying creative was to always be open to and/or seeking out new ideas, new stimulation, etc.

      A few things come to mind when I thought about your question of balancing the need for current information and keeping your sanity:

      1. We are presented with so much information now that even if we cut it in half, we’re still consuming far more than we need. Information is kind of like salt. Even if you stop using the salt shaker and start reading labels, you still eat more salt than you need. I say this to say “relax”, you’ll still get plenty.

      2. It’s really about being more selective. I like the word “curate”. I’m curating my information with much more selective focus now. I’m being careful of taking in just any information and taking in information that is focused on my current needs and interests. For instance, right now I’m learning a lot about email marketing best practices. I’m actually taking in MORE of that information, but less of almost everything else.

      3. My most creative ideas have always come from periods of isolation and incubation. It’s the times in between consuming information that my brain goes to work. If I don’t give it that time, it doesn’t get creative, it gets overloaded and I start to shut down.

      4. I think it’s ok to have periods where you consume more information, even in a more generalized sense. Just not all day every day like we do now.

      I also love what Whitney wrote in her comment below this one. Worth a read if you haven’t already.

      Reply
  2. Whitney
    Whitney says:

    Makes me think. I like that about you. So, last night I went to a minimalist wardrobe workshop. She spoke about how simplifying her closet was the gateway to simplifying her life. How will I apply all this to my work? Instead of communicating to the world and making more noise in a noisy space, I’m going to start in my own circle of influence. I’m going to provide actionable and practical content, consistently to those who already know me, like me and trust me. I will not worry about being all things to all clients, but rather the best ME for the clients I serve currently and those prospects who are coming my way. I will be LESS to the masses and MORE to my circle, allowing that impact to ripple out. Thanks for the nudge to clarify this concept and apply it. Immediately. 🙂

    Reply
    • Mark
      Mark says:

      Whitney,

      A. Marie Kondo would be proud of you.

      B. You’ve hit on a key idea that was floating around in the back of my head. I plan to spend less time producing stuff for the masses (like in my general Facebook feed) and more time engaging with “my people” (in my private Facebook groups, etc.).

      C. Your clarity led to more clarity for me. So thank YOU.

      Reply
  3. Heather Hitchcock
    Heather Hitchcock says:

    This has also been percolating in my mind and spirit. I’ve been intentionally reducing my information intake in order to really process fewer things with more meaning.

    I would welcome suggestions on how to be selective in what data I choose to consume and curate (love that word) both for personal and skill development. So much is so meaningful, that I find myself fearing that I’ll “miss out” on something that could be impactful in a significant way! I love rules and guidelines, so some sort of structure or filter to help the decision-making process would be great.

    Would also love more practical help or dialogue about reaching my circle over the masses. Best way to identify circle(s) of impact, and how to reach deeper.

    I appreciate everyone’s feedback and as always, thank you to Mark for your ongoing inspiration and mentoring to your circle 🙂

    Reply
    • Mark
      Mark says:

      I hope others jump into this conversation. I’ll definitely pose your question in my Super Secret SUPERFRIENDS Facebook Group soon as well because I think it would be extremely helpful to gain as much wisdom in this area as possible (without information overload, of course).

      Here’s my two cents:

      Get really clear on what’s important to you right now and curate information based on that. We naturally do that in crisis, like when we have a health scare and we focus on information related to the injury or disease or treatment. During those time we hardly take in any other information because it is obvious what’s important to you in those moments.

      But what if we did that in non-crisis times? How do we figure out what’s important? Start with a longer term view. Where do you want to be in 1, 3, or 5 years? Then back up a bit. To reach that, what do you need to focus on right for the next 90 days? Put your energy there. Ignore most of everything else.

      Like I said, that’s my two cents. Would love to hear more ideas!

      Reply
  4. Tracy
    Tracy says:

    Mark, I love this concept and it definitely resonates with me right now. I’ve committed to taking more action in the last year but have struggled with taking in less content for fear of “missing an inspiration.” What reading your post made me realize is that sometimes this leads to too much inspiration. I have a whole book of great ideas for projects that I have written down but I haven’t had a chance to do very many of them because there never seems to be enough time to get to them. Between dealing with the tyranny of the urgent and the “I’ll just check Facebook for 10 minutes” trap, the day seems to evaporate.

    As with you, it seems my most productive ideas happen when I give my brain time to think and process. My team at work jokes that my best ideas always seem to come while I’m in the shower (which also happens to be one of the few times I am completely unplugged). Perhaps more planned unplugged time will be in my future. Thanks for the morning inspiration.

    Reply
    • Mark
      Mark says:

      Thanks for joining the conversation, Tracy!

      If I was one of those fake psychics, I’d probably ask you if you have a bunch of unred magazines or unread books piled up in your house and you’d reply, “OH MY GOSH, HOW DID YOU KNOW????”

      It’s FOMO: the fear of missing out, plain and simple.

      Turns out FOMO doesn’t just apply to all of the supposed “epic and legendary experiences” we miss out on in life. It also applies to information. If we don’t keep our information radar turned on all the time, we fear we’ll miss something important, valuable, or stimulating.

      I think your observation about the shower is spot on. It IS one of the few times of our day when we’re unplugged (unless you listen to music in the shower like my daughter does). There’s also something about water that seems to connect us back to something more basic and meaningful. I love showers for these very reasons. I’ve even been known to completely drain the entire water heater…

      Reply
  5. Martyn
    Martyn says:

    Mark your blog today so tracks with and confirms the new course of action I’ve also decided to move towards. Have you ever read Cal Newport’S book Deep Work? He goes much deeper into the benefits and exercises that can help to yield more from structured and focused time.

    Reply
    • Mark
      Mark says:

      Martyn, did you just suggest MORE information for me, ha ha!

      I have a copy of Deep Work on my Kindle. And I will read it eventually. Maybe I’ll bump it closer to the top of the stack now that you’ve recommended it, too.

      Reply
  6. gina
    gina says:

    Love this topic, Mark! I am a Professional Business Coach and hear so often that all the social media platforms and information take so much of their time and energy. They feel as if they are not in control of it. We coach around intentionally controlling our time. Sometimes this means scheduling every minute and for others it is simply a decision to shut down impersonal connections and focus on personal relationships. Finding a good space to weed out the ‘drama’ and only see and react to what is important to them is difficult. How can we use the tools we have without allowing the negativity and drama to get into our heads?

    Reply
    • Mark
      Mark says:

      Negativity and drama are often habits that take as long to break as they did to develop. It sometimes takes more than coaching, it takes counseling as well.

      And sadly, I believe they are also hard-wired into some people.

      Reply
  7. Mary Beth Cowardin
    Mary Beth Cowardin says:

    I think this is a fantastic idea! I sometimes feel trapped and bogged down by all the information around me. This is a great way to take control, take a positive action and make a difference. And, one action I’ve been trying to take in effort to strike more balance in life is allow myself to not do anything…not read, not check facebook, etc. I will admit I’ve not been very successful at this “non-action” action. Thanks for the reminder to work on that too.

    Reply
    • Mark
      Mark says:

      Mary Beth,

      It’s just as easy to get addicted to adding things to our to-do list and become overwhelmed by that, too.

      Reply
  8. Caleb Bryant
    Caleb Bryant says:

    Your thoughts resonate with me, Mark. In a sense, words have declined in value because there’s so much immediately available. But at the same time, they’re extremely valuable and powerful!

    Thanks for sharing!

    Caleb

    Reply
    • Mark
      Mark says:

      Caleb,

      I recently heard that people don’t need more information — all the information in the world is literally at our fingertips now. What people need is INSIGHT.

      Now if I could only figure out how to provide THAT better… 🙂

      Reply

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