RL: Sensory Overload

“I have a theory about the human mind. A brain is a lot like a computer. It will only take so many facts, and then it will go on overload and blow up.”

Erma Bombeck

“Our brains weren’t designed to handle a world’s worth of news at once.” I’ve heard a variation of this idea from multiple people on the internet. (I want to say one was Naval.)

My guess is this is related to the idea of Dunbar’s number, where we have a limited number of people we can maintain a stable social relationship with at once (around 150+), or why our minds glaze over like a jelly donut when statistical estimates reach numbers we can’t comprehend.

In today’s world, we’re all dealing with a case of TMI—too much information. The crazy thing is we mostly do it to ourselves.

Sure, there’s an endless amount of products, services, and ideas marketed to us. And of course, there’s all the social media platforms we use multiple times a day. Email, can’t forget email. YouTube. News. There’s also the information we hear from our personal environment (family, friends, co-workers, classmates, neighbors, etc.) And that doesn’t even start to include the things we are learning and enjoying—blogs (like this one), podcasts, documentaries, courses, mentors, etc.)

Even just writing that last paragraph is giving me anxiety. No wonder we’re all exhausted and on edge!

There are a few strategies that I’ve found to help me keep the sensory overload monsters at bay.

  1. Ask yourself: Is this enabling me or disabling me?

Is this helping me? Does X Y Z information improve my life? Does this make me more capable of helping others and taking positive steps towards my dreams?

Drop anything that doesn’t.

  1. Clean up your digital life/lives.

Imagine for a moment that you dropped everything. You hit unsubscribe on every follower and newsletter. You cleaned up every digital account you have. You organized every digital file you have. A clean slate. A fresh sheet of paper. By trying to know and focus on everything, you overwhelm yourself into a state of casual knowledge and shallow focus.

  1. Curate for quality and wisdom, over quantity, and time-killers.

Your goal should be to surround yourself with a moderate amount of information that we can use to gain knowledge and skills. Ideas that enable or ideas you can act on. Of course, try not to isolate yourself too much—anyone who’s got their hands (or feet) on bubble wrap knows what happens to bubbles before long—they pop. But don’t drink from the firehose just to be “informed.”

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1085 ☕️

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