How to avoid overwhelm

01/30/2017 03:32 pm ET

In the digital world we live in today, we have access to all of the information we could ever want – and then some. But with more information and choices being presented to us than ever before, what effect is this having on us?

In his TED Talk, Barry Schwartz talks about The Paradox of Choice in the context of a world which gives us more to choose from – whether it’s the tin of soup that we buy at the supermarket, the diet that we choose to go on, or the career path that we take.

As well as preventing us from making actual decisions, this paradox often leads us to regret the decision that we eventually make, and dwell on this afterwards. We fail to enjoy the moment and instead get wrapped up resentful self-talk: “Where these the right shoes to buy?” “What about the other pair?” “Did I get a good deal?” “Would there have been a better deal in that other shop that I didn’t have time to go to?” and so on.

And that’s just when it comes to deciding on a pair of shoes!

<a rel="nofollow" href="https://pixabay.com/en/headache-head-ache-pain-head-ache-1910644/" target="_blank">Credit: typography

So how can we avoid all of this when it comes to making a decision or, at least, reduce this?

To start with, we can consciously put a limit on just how much we research we do before making a purchasing decision.

e.g. Shoes – narrow it down to a particular shop, or a particular style

Diet – compare just two or three diets you like the look of, or even just simply reduce your calories by x number each day

Limiting your inputs like this can free up headspace, and make that choice less overwhelming and psychologically inhibiting.

And remember that research can be a curse as much as a blessing – there is always more out there to look for, to read, to research. Perhaps a limit here would be a good thing too – for example: “Let me spend 30 minutes doing research online as to what the best one is for me, and then I am going to commit to making a decision.”

Perhaps the most important thing to remember is that there usually isn’t a right or a wrong choice anyway. So:

  • Make a choice
  • Embrace your choice! Spend time enjoying it and remind yourself of the joyous benefits, rather than lingering on the what-if’s

Fun fact: The late Steve Jobs famously wore the same black turtleneck, blue jeans and trainers every day, reportedly to avoid this ‘decision fatigue’ and expending mental energy when he woke up each morning.

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