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Prompted by a recent article from Barbara Hemphill regarding the overwhelm of our "to read" piles, I did stop and think about it.
So many information sources surround us - television (and all its forms, i.e., Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, etc.), radio (broadcast, satellite or streaming), videos, emails, podcasts, smartphones, tablets, magazines, newspapers, social media, instant messaging, etc. We live in a fantastic age of information.
But I think I've reached the tipping point. Does having this many options create more stress and anxiety than the benefits they provide? For me, the answer is a definitive YES! So, it's time to hit the pause button.
It won't be easy. I love to learn, I love new information, and I experience FOMO just like everyone else. But if I'm not genuinely benefiting from all this information, and it causes me stress and anxiety, something has to change.
I have helped clients work through cabinets full of files, most of it decades out of relevance. One client had a typewritten letter, on onion skin paper, from 1968.
My artistically-inclined husband has a more than ample supply of reading material for art inspiration. Because he finds inspiration in so many day-to-day experiences, I tell him he doesn't need to keep all of it. Inspiration will always be there for him.
While I don't currently struggle with paper, taking inventory of my digital "house" is another story altogether, and I'm pretty sure I'm not alone.
I feel an indescribable pressure knowing this content is waiting for me. And new material floods in daily. I feel like I'm behind like I'm not keeping up. And it's not the first time I've experienced this.
Over a decade ago, the chip in our DVR failed, and we lost all of the shows it contained (and believe me, there were plenty). You might think I would be furious, but I wasn't. I was relieved! A weight had lifted. There was only one episode of a single show I regretted losing — just one.
After that experience, you wouldn't think I'd find myself in a similar situation again. Yet here I am.
I've done a great job eliminating most notifications from my phone, and I limit the time spent on social media. Still, I've allowed the mental clutter and distraction of information overload to creep in.
While it's not easy to stare down a monster of your own making, it's the only way to conquer it. My overwhelming urge for new information clouded my ability to consider solutions objectively. Barbara's article helped me realize it was finally time to take action. So, this is what I've done.
As I made each of these changes in recent days, I gained momentum and felt the weight lift. Will I find myself in this situation again? Maybe. But if I stay mindful of feeling overwhelmed, and do the incremental work to minimize it, I can stay ahead of the next wave.
What's weighing you down? You owe it to yourself to figure it out and take action. Speaking from personal experience, the clarity and peace of mind you gain is well worth the effort. If I can help, please reach out.