The problem: Everything and everyone is trying to get your attention.
Companies, products, problems, groups, persons, ... - everything is crying for attention. Look here, look there, you must read, watch or have this and that.
The reason: You are a potential customer and you should be motivated to buy and consume products, services and information.
We are often annoyed by advertisments or by the behaviour of salesman when they are trying to catch our attention and get us as customers and often we see a company or a system as the annoying element. But there are people behind trying to earn money. It is the same as in a room where a group of people talk. The noise gets louder and louder because everybody needs to increase the volume to get heard. The advertising "volume" and amount increases with the time. But why can't we simply ignore all that stuff? - Because "Knowledge is Power"! Knowing the important things pushes you in a better situation in general. You have more control, save and earn more money, be happier - in general you be more successful having more of the important knowledge. This is the reason why we don't reduce information intake drastically. And the problem is that what shouts loudest is not always the most important.
The solution: Improve your ability to focus and the ability to ignore what does not matter.
Easy said, hard work to be implemented - and I can only give you some considerations that hopefully help you sorting the things out. So think of the following before starting your information intake:
- Is this really new to me?
Often we read something that we already have considered to be this way. Reading what we ever thought to be this way is confirmation of our considerations and we love that. So ask yourself if you really need so much confirmation from outside about your own opinions or considerations.
- Can this have the potential to change my life?
Think whether this book, article, advertisement has really the potential to change your life. Ask yourself consciously: Is it very probable that this information changes my life?
- Who could be behind pushing that information and what could be his intention?
The same information can be provided in very different words and manners. It usually depends on the author and his intentions how information is prepared and manipulated. So the question about the author and his intention can be of relevance for the reliability/quality and the importance of the information.
- Watch your needs and then the market.
Often information is brought to you to make you consume something you might not have known that you needed it. Don't watch products and find their importance for you, instead you should do it the other way round: Focus on your needs and search for solutions/products/services that could help you achieving your goals or improving your life quality.
- Information can be wrong!
Don't rely too much on information in general. Just because some economy analyst is saying that economy is bad should not cause you to get in panic about loosing your job. Such an information can already be wrong because the parameters used for measuring economy could be theoretically a good indicator but mismatching practical experiences in the real world (See "The mismatch problem"). Especially information about the future should also be considered as "nice thoughts" only. And there are either authors knowingly producing wrong information to misslead you.
- You are always missing information.
When searching for information (e.g. while comparing different products or services or when you worry about current politics or economic changes in progress) you should give up the desire to know everything. There is always some doubt remaining. This should not mean that you shouldn't search and read information. But after you collected a certain amount of knowledge about the issue, consider to stop when it doesn't make more sense getting more information.
- Rely on "common sense".
Often relying on your intuition and common sense leads to a good decision without the need of reading a bulk of information. So the cost performance ratio is often much better if you just rely on common sense. So before you go to research for making a decision think if research is really convenient.
- Ignore articles with crazy titles.
My experience is that those articles with the most crazy title do have the most unnecessary content. Maybe because without the crazy title nobody would read it. I am glad that those authors help me identifying unnecessary information by giving crazy titles. Here an example from today's science news (freely translated): "Mistaking apes are humanly" or another from an english IT news channel: "Buddha Machine Wall Plays Relaxing Ambient-Loops".
Before you start consuming:
- Search for hidden costs.
When you read or hear about special offers then keep in mind that there are usually some hidden costs that are not mentioned in the advertisements. Advertisements usually exaggerate the efficiency as well as the economical factor of the product or service. And sometimes they are very hard on the limit to be a straight lie.
- Consider the total cost of ownership (TOC) of the product or service.
Even free services can produce costs - not necessarily "just" money. Even if you consume free services maybe on the internet there is some maintenance effort coming along (regular password changes, dealing with several notification mails, keeping profile data up-to-date and so on).
- Will this make me more happy than just hanging around relaxing?
Has this product or service really have the potential to make me more happy instead of just doing nothing? Doing nothing and just relax and enjoy the present moment can make very satisfied and happy. Don't underestimate this (see "In the present moment").
- What other activities are dropped when consuming this product or service?
Consuming itself consumes time - time that can't be created from nothing. Instead your time and attention is moved from something else to the new point of interest. Choose consciously what to drop and if. Maybe buying and playing the new computer game drags your attention away from your family. Consider carefully if you really want that.
Related posts: The mismatch problem, Spam thoughts, Who cares?, Information overflow, In the present moment, Get focused with 3 questions, Total cost of commitment.