We were bombarded with five times more information in 2011 than we were in 1986! It hasn’t got any easier in the intervening years…
We are doing more now than we’ve done before. Of course, its happened bit by bit, but when was the last time you had help unloading your shopping trolley at one end of the conveyor belt, and into bags and back into the trolley at the other? Somehow you are supposed to be at both ends at the same time, oh, and let’s not forget paying for it somewhere in the middle!
When was the last time somebody else filled your petrol tank with fuel? Often we don’t even go inside and have another individual take our money, we make the transaction ourselves too at the machine.
When you take a trip, how do you obtain your tickets? Does someone else take care of it or have you booked it and paid for it yourself online?
There was a time when we didn’t have to do all these things ourselves, and now that we do, it takes up even more of our attention and our energy.
When I first started my business over 10 years ago, the standard advice was that a potential customer needed to be reminded of a product or service seven times before they were likely to take action. Now the advice is 11 times. Trying to get your business noticed amongst all the other noise, necessitates that you yourself make even more noise!
No wonder we all feel pressured. No wonder it feels like there’s not enough time in the day.
Surely, at some point we will exceed our ability to cope and our brains will explode!
In all seriousness, perhaps we are already reaching capacity. Some recent disasters such as the Exxon Valdez spill were accounted for by errors made by overworked and sleep-deprived staff who couldn’t cope with the vast amount of information coming at them, necessary to make a better decision.
If information is arriving faster than our ability to process it, we can expect to make more mistakes.
But what about that ability to process it? It’s not fixed. Ability varies from person to person and from circumstance to circumstance.
Concentration and focus takes energy. Continually switching from one thing to another or making decision after decision takes energy, and can feel pretty exhausting.
Every time you decide to read, delete or respond to an email it costs you!
Your brain is just 4% of your body weight, but uses 20% of the energy you need.
Thinking is expensive!
Usually we end up creating systems to cope. We’ll make a list, for example, use a diary, put things we want to take with us right by the door so we’ll pick them up on our way out…
When you feel overwhelmed, recognising the challenge is probably the first most important step to making necessary changes. You have to recognise that you can’t do everything and that you need to prioritise and simply let some things slide.