Information overload is a bit of a modern day malaise, like repetitive strain injury or Jeremy Kyle.
We now have the world at our fingertips but the autonomy that the internet has offered us to book our own flights or buy our own investment stocks, whilst also running a family on the side, has left us with a pretty skewed sense of our own ability to multitask.
By removing the friction of switching from one job to another, mobile digital technology has improved our lives in ways that anyone too young to remember the joys of Teletext will ever know. But by making it easier to do everything all at once, has it become harder for us to stay focused?
The fact is that our brains are simply not wired to multitask, even if our ego is. That small hit of dopamine we get every time we flit from phone to tablet to computer makes us feel like we’re getting stuff done, but in reality our brains have a limited capacity for doing too many things at one time.
According to recent research conducted by Stanford University, digesting information while multitasking redirects the new information to the wrong part of the brain, making it harder to retrieve when we need it to make important decisions.
There are fortunately, ways to beat digital distractions but most of them can be summed up quite easily in one sentence: turn your phone off. However for some of us, going back to quill and ink simply isn’t a realistic option.
This is why I’ve become increasingly interested in new apps that are built to reduce information overload, like ‘Isolater’, which hides icons, apps and desktop distractions when you need to stay focused on one task, or ‘Pomodrone’ which helps you break your day into 25 minute chunks or even ‘KardBlock’, which filters out any Kardashian content from your newsfeed.
Furthermore, in a time-strapped world, we shouldn’t feel too guilty about relying on apps that allow us to hire someone to do our own DIY, walk our dog or manage our money, as they are really just a way of farming out some decisions to help us focus on the ones that are more suited to our own expertise.
Just don’t get too carried away: wearing only grey T-shirts every day of the week like Mark Zuckerberg because ‘it’s one less decision to make’, in my mind, is one step too far. Everyone needs colour in their life and this year it’s all about orange.
Opinions given within this article are my own personal views. My views and opinions are effective from the date of publication but may be subject to change without notice.