Hillcroft LRC

Tips to Cope with Information Overload

Posted on: November 20, 2015

Gold Mine by Kuznetsov is licensed under CC by 2.0

Gold Mine by Kuznetsov is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

First of all, what do we mean by information overload? It is that feeling of falling down a dark hole when there is too much information to carry out a task. So even simple tasks can be made difficult when we are faced with too many options and no specific direction.

For example, you may need to find out about main theorists for a subject for your UCAS application. As Confucius is credited with saying ‘You can not open a book without learning something.’ There are entire libraries online and offline devoted to human knowledge. Where do you start?

If you have access to lots of information this gives you the chance to be selective and find a direction. The trouble is how can you be selective without being biased or limited? How can you read it all? We all need help with overcoming our biases, speed reading and managing time. The key is not learning willy-nilly (although this can be great too sometimes!) but to focus on what you need to learn for the task at hand. Finding the most appropriate, relevant nuggets of information is the ultimate challenge of academic study (and who knows, probably in life too!).

There is no one way to cope with information overload. We would like to hear about your advice to other students on that awful feeling of being overwhelmed with too many sources, too many theories, too many words. What do you do? What if you are dyslexic? What if you are starved for time?

If you post a tip to us by email, on Twitter or in the LRC and you may receive a World Science Day calendar thanks to UNESCO.

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