With the advancement of technology comes the onslaught of information into our lives. As the amount of data that flows into our lives increases, we have started finding ourselves becoming more stressed from the distraction, pressure, and interruptions that have entered our lives because of the relentless flow of information. Unfortunately, with this increase in knowledge, we have started to see the harmful side-effects of information overload in our everyday lives.
Interruptions and Distractions
The rapid flow and exchange of information and the tasks that are generated as a result have become overwhelming for most people. The relentless barrage of communication exacts its toll on our productivity and personal well-being. According to Basex, a New York-based research company, U.S. companies lose $650 billion every year in lost productivity due to the interruptions and distractions caused by this steady flow of information.
Loss of Focus
Interruptions throughout the day come in two types, either external disruptions, like phone calls, co-workers, or email, and internal disruptions from mental distractions and self-dialog. A recent study estimates that for every 30-second disruption in our workflow, it can take you up to 20 minutes to recover and get back into the flow of work. This makes it hard to prioritize tasks and set boundaries that will help to eliminate interruptions and distractions.
One of the biggest impacts of information overload is the reduction of worker’s mental capacity. It has been shown that information overload causes people to work well below their potential. As a result, workers suffering from information overload tend to produce less, think superficially, and generate fewer ideas, despite increasing the number of hours they work. There is also evidence that shows that information overload can increase errors in our work.
Decline in Mental Health and Well-Being
Keeping up with all the information that we receive through the various technological devices takes up a lot of our time. Not only does this happen at work, but in our personal times as well, and it’s starting to affect our health. We are dealing with more stress than ever before, and it's causing an increase in anxiety levels, high levels of irritation, and an increase in rates of depression.
There was a time in recent years when there was a clear separation between our professional lives and personal lives. Now, in today's technologically dependent world, we are connected 24/7, which leads to information overload. It is essential to find ways to limit the amount of information we receive daily and reduce the harmful side effects of too much information.