Are you are an information-maniac, a news junkie, a social-media butterfly? If so, you might be hurting yourself more than you think. The costs of information addiction are many and profound. Alas, I know this not only from personal experience (“Hello, my name is Liisa and I’m an info-holic.”) but also from many of my coaching clients who share this malady. Let’s face it: multi-talented, creative people are, by definition, interested in many, many things. We appreciate ideas. It’s natural to want more. And more. But there’s a point after which, the pain outweighs the gain. If you have a tendency to surf the internet and social media outlets a bit too much, consider the following:
1. You’re being less creative.
Consuming information voraciously may well give you some creative ideas…but doing so also interferes with the time you could be spending actually creating. The more time you spend sopping up other people’s ideas, the less of your own you are generating, developing or executing.
2. You’re getting less done.
By definition, whatever time you’re spending surfing the ‘net, reading your Twitter/Facebook news feeds and/or attending to your fave RSS feeds, the less real work, the less real thinking you’re doing and the less real creating you’re doing.
3. You’re procrastinating.
If you tend to struggle with procrastination, tech-checking behaviors, tech-related addictions are sinkholes riddled with procrastination landmines. (“I’ll get started right after I check my email” becomes “What’s the latest Gawker post” followed by “I gots to check my FB news feed — check on my peeps!” or “I should really check the weather this weekend” and before you know it, it’s 3 pm and you’re still haven’t started.
4. You’re wasting time.
Consider this: if you checking your email 25 times a day versus twice a day, your email is still equally ‘checked’. It just took you 23 more actions…and that much more time. For maximum efficiency, author Tim Ferriss recommends batching tasks. For example, you can set up two regular times for checking your email — 9 am and 4 pm. Worried you’ll miss something urgent and important? Ferriss suggests using an Auto Responder message that tells people when you check your email and providing your phone number for emergencies. (For more tips on making better use of your time, click here).
5. You’re not focusing.
The more information you’re scanning, the less you’re focusing.
6. You’re re-wiring your brain. And not in a good way.
Research has proven that our brains create neural pathways reflective of our thought patterns. The more you jump around among different bits of information, the less focused you are, and the more likely that you are creating permanently distracted thinking pathways among your neurons. You’re basically training yourself to NOT concentrate on anything, ever again.
7. You may be shortchanging your relationships.
If you’re spending too much time online, you’re missing out on time with your friends, family members and even your pets. The great irony of the tsunami of ‘social media’ is that those who indulge are spending less and less time socially, in person, with other humans.
8. You are hurting your health.
The more sedentary we are, the less healthy our bodies and the more likely we are putting on excess weight. If you’re packing on the pounds, it might be time to step away from the keyboard and around the block. Walk the dog, ride a bike, go shopping, hit the gym…give your brain a break while you give some attention to your physical self.
Activity: How much of your day is spent monitoring electronic information? Write down an estimate.
Now: Actually measure and analyze your time use for a few days. Keep track of exactly how much time you are spending surfing news sites or participating in social media.
If you find you’re spending ‘too much’ time on electronic activities, consider the following strategies to reduce the costs of Information Addiction.
1. Batch electronic actions, like checking your email or Facebook feed.
Restrain yourself to checking in at two set times per day max.
2. Time box internet surf sessions.
Set a timer for the maximum amount of time you want to spend surfing the net. Whatever info you glean is “enough”.
3. Replace some of your internet time with other activities.
Create. Play. Exercise. Meditate. Volunteer. Call a friend. Daydream. There’s a million ways to spend a given hour. What would make you happy?
4. Take an Information Vacation
Try going ‘off the grid’ one or more evenings a week. Why not spend an electronic-free Saturday or Sunday? For more ‘Information Vacation’ ideas, stay tuned for our upcoming article on that topic.
Activity: How does your Information Addiction manifest? What electronic activities are sopping up too much of your time?
Activity: What are these activities costing you? Consider the costs listed above…plus any others you’ve noticed?
Activity: Try one or more of the options to reduce your Information Addiction.
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Are you struggling with too many talents, skills, ideas? You may have The Da Vinci Dilemma™! Find tools, fun quizzes, coaching, inspiration and solutions for multi-talented people at http://www.davincidilemma.com/.