How to Avoid Information Overload

As people who are interested in personal development, we’re all seeking out ways to improve ourselves. And there is definitely a ton of information out there to meet that demand. In fact, there’s so much that it can be hard to process it all. Ironically, this information overload is often most responsible for people’s lack of progress.

If you think that having a wealth of information at your fingertips full of wonderful, new, engaging ideas 24/7 (like the internet) is always a good thing, think again.

Why Information Overload Will Kill Your Progress


We all know that too much of a good thing turns into a bad thing. And it’s no exception with information. There are literally thousands of books and blogs out there devoted solely to bettering the people who read them. And the truth is, most of them have something good to say. The problem comes in when we, as consumers, are faced with this gluttony of information.


Let’s say you wake up in the morning and come across a new post from your favorite self help blog. “That sounds great!” you think after reading it, and you feel a little boost in your mood. An hour later, you decide to sit down and read some productivity tips from a book you’ve been glancing through lately. “Hmm, interesting,” you say, and then you get ready for work.

At work the same process continues. You have a meeting on time management where you learn some more cool tips. That’s great and all, but the problem is that you don’t have nearly enough time to actually implement any of these ideas. All you’re doing is collecting ideas, day in and day out. They’re going in one ear and right out the other.

It just doesn’t work. Here’s how to solve the problem.

How to Eliminate Information Overload and Create Real Progress

One of the best ways to eliminate information overload is to stop soaking up so much information. It sounds simple, but it’s true. Try to limit yourself to one specific product/blog post/whatever for each thing you want to develop.

For example, if you want to learn some time management tricks, then get a good related book and sit down and study it. Don’t read anything else while you read that book, especially other nonfiction books. It’s okay to get your daily dose of inspiration from, but limit yourself in the time management department only that book. This will give you time to really absorb the new ideas that you’re learning.

The second thing to do is to specifically focus only on that idea. Even though we receive so many different great ideas from lots of sources each day, we rarely turn those ideas into new habits. Even one minor habit change a month is enough to significantly change your life in a relatively short period of time. Therefore, focus on the one subject that you want to learn and work on making it a habit in your life.

As you can see, information overload is rampant. We need to combat this by simplifying and eliminating the information we receive a daily basis. We can do this by focusing strictly on only that which we want to learn. After that, we should focus on turning our new understanding into real habit changes.


Fred Tracy runs a personal development website where he shares his insights and quirky stories. He is practical and eclectic, borrowing ideas from psychology, spirituality, and common sense, among many other sources. All of this information is distilled into articles that help his readers. He also runs an awesome Twitter page.

Photo courtesy of: HALLDOR KOLBEINS/AFP/Getty Images


Erin shows overscheduled, overwhelmed women how to do less so that they can achieve more. Traditional productivity books—written by men—barely touch the tangle of cultural pressures that women feel when facing down a to-do list. How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.

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