Overwhelmed by Choices

Overwhelmed by Choices
Image Source: http://www.success.com

This is a problem that seems rampant everywhere.

I’ve long thought that in today’s digital world, people are on permanent overload.

We have gone from cell phones and game boys to tablets, smart phones, e-readers, and laptops.

We are ‘connected’ almost 24/7.

Yesterday I came across a video about how we can better manage this overload.

For years, people have been told to learn to multi-task, that this ability would make you more productive and (hopefully) happier.

Turns out that’s not true.

Our brains aren’t really capable of ‘multi-tasking.’

We just shift our attention rapidly from one thing to the next, which means we never really focus on anything.

Everyone wants everything NOW, and no one wants to wait for it.

In this culture of ‘instant gratification’ and seemingly endless choices, how do you decide on anything?

Setting Limits

You have to set limits.

Pick one task and tackle it.

Ignore everything else (barring fires or medical emergencies) until you’re done or stuck.

Then move on.

I tend to be easily distracted, so I have gotten in the habit of setting a timer.

Having a time limit helps me focus.

When my kids were little, getting my youngest dressed in the morning before school was a constant struggle.

There were too many choices.

Which shirt of the 10?

Which shorts of the 8?

I came across an article about limiting choices and decided to try it.

The next morning, instead of the whole closet of clothes, I picked out two shirts and two pairs of shorts.

“Which one?” I asked.

2 minutes later, we were done – fully dressed and time to eat breakfast before we left!

From then on, that’s what I did.

Picking out clothes never took more than a couple of minutes.

This is a simplification, of course, but you see my point.

Social Media Overload

Another area of overload, beyond emails and work, is social media.

It’s no longer enough to have an email account.

You need to be on Facebook, Instagram, SnapChat, Flickr, Tumblr, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Reddit, Twitter, and on and on.

And if you are in SL, you may have additional social media accounts like ASN, Google, Avatarbook.

Perhaps you have accounts under your RL name AND your SL avatar name.

It’s enough to drive you batty some days.

I have accounts as Kat, as my RL self, and I am probably going to need more as I venture into self-publishing.

Some days, it’s hard to keep everything straight.

The number of passwords alone is frightening!

Is It Cultural?

I’ve often wondered if this feeling of overload is cultural.

The picture above is what I see when I go grocery shopping.

Are that many choices really necessary?

Do I need to have 16 different choices for peanut butter?

40+ choices for types of breakfast cereal?

Is this how it is in grocery stores for other people?

Would I have this many choices in a store in England? Australia? Germany? France?

I was reminded of all this yet again last night.

My husband and I switched phones.

So we each spent several hours updating everything, installing our favorite apps, setting ringtones, etc.

Remember when all a phone did was make phone calls?

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8 thoughts on “Overwhelmed by Choices

  1. Walmart and supermarkets, retail giants like BestBuy, have all been reducing the variety of items they stock very noticeably. i think there is a calculation of profit per-cubic-feet of product as well as associated-purchase value…Will a small-ticket item lead to sales of other more profitable items? But yes, i agree we are overwhelmed with too many choices. and there will be a rebellion against it. My refrigerator has a 50 page technical manual as does the thermostat and alarm system. Everything comes with a million bells and whistles. And it takes forever to learn to use all the features most of which you wont need or use but are there for selling you as you compare who has the ‘most’ features. A million more subjects taught in schools. So many formats as companies try to corner markets.

    So many video and audio and image formats. So many choices to feed our over-consuming society. A major contributor to choices is and will get worse is the ease in which anyone can be a business and sell a product or service (ala eBay, Amazon, YouTube with howto books and videos, mom-and-pop websites, anyone can now sell mp3s of their musical talent, digital-art-work. My mall is shrinking…number of closures is escalating. Price of any lunch is 9 USD as food-courts close. In their place, jewelry stored due to their very high markup. Our consuming habits are changing as we spend more time online shopping and doing other things such that we now get our news online, newspapers are dying. We get our comedy from YouTube and it doesn’t insult our intelligence…explains why a certain networks comedies are down to 1 hour a week. That’s crazy that nobody watches comedies anymore, but i get why.

    More people are becoming producers of content and a lot of it is produced at a loss to the producer in place of ego…If everyone is producing content…writing, blogging, mp3s, selling (eBay, Amazon), videos, etc. then the choices are exponential comparatively speaking, to what it was and expanding daily. More choices to buy almost anything used or refurbished which cuts into sales of new items. Everyone can self publish now so a plethora so more choices of written works. In music sounds alone, 17,000 virtual instruments each of which can be custom tailored. Remember when we thought an orchestra had a lot of instruments?

    “More than you could ever need'” is becoming a real and common selling point now days.

    And don’t let me get started on smartphones and personal computing devices. The number of add-on apps…gadgets, etc. Insane.

    Social media offerings…there has to be a practical limit due to number of waking hours in a day as to how much time one can spend a day texting, sexting, Facebooking, Tweeting, YouTubing, gaming, emailing, photo-sharing, Skyping, porn-viewing, shopping, bidding, ordering, comparative-shopping, Ubering. I am impressed you find time for a real-world life. At your soccer games, how many soccer moms (and dads) are checking their smartphones on the regular?

    YouTube encourage internet common-man celebritydom. Netflix carried 30% of nighttime internet bandwidth with its vast number of choices. TV screens grow ever bigger and cheaper contributing to the $18.25 for 2 large pop-corns and 2 large sodas as such…called the ‘couple special’ that movie theaters must charge to make a profit in addition to the average $8.17 cents per ticket. Again a wide selection and ease of access without the 1/2 hr of forced movie commercials, lit cell phones screens an other diversions keeps us at home in the safe confines of our own living-rooms, media-rooms, and man-caves.

    The only businesses i see thriving are personal-care businesses as those have no internet equal. You cannot get your nails done online…not yet….anyways…but give technology time.

    Phones, clones, drones.

    1. I may not be able to get my nails done online, but there are plenty of videos to show me how to do it myself. 🙂
      I agree, it’s overwhelming. That said, I suppose I am also a contributor to the problem, since I am one of the many voices – I blog, I take pics, and I am hoping to soon be a self-published author. So perhaps it would be worthwhile to learn how to ‘winnow the wheat from the chaff’ as we say around here. ;-P

  2. I have this problem with my boss at work…I work at a large, ivy-league hospital. I have a fairly upper level job, and I work fast and accurately. The problem is that my boss thinks that every project is a number one priority and they all have to be done RIGHT NOW. She will call you, if you don’t pick up, she will email you to call her and if you don’t call her right back, she will email and call your co-workers to go find you. She answers emails until 2am. She sends them on Saturday and Sunday. She never takes a day off. She sleeps 3 hours a night. Her hair is falling out and she has gained at least 20lbs in the last year.

    She is nuts….in case you hadn’t figured that out yet…..but, I try very hard not to do that sort of thing. I don’t open my emails at night or on the weekend. I attempt to balance my SL time and my RL time to play with my pets and my friends. I have a tendency to leave my cell phone at the bottom of my backpack on vibrate at night, missing non-important texts, emails and notifications from the news about traffic accidents. I recently read a book printed on paper….although I did have a moment when I wanted to see the definition of a word and without thinking tried to click on it to open the dictionary, DOH!

    I do have to force myself not to play words with friends while sitting in restaurants while my husband forces himself not to answer text messages from work. I think it’s sad that we can’t be alone any more….pre-cancer Winnie worked about 70 hours a week and was online with work pretty much 24-7….post cancer Winnie works very hard to shut it down at the end of the day.

    There are only so many hours in the day….and at least one of them should be spent sitting and relaxing with a glass of wine….and NO electronic attachments 🙂 Or…on the back of a horse wandering around the countryside as nature intended!

    1. You can order that wine thru the net and there are virtual horse-riding software, Winnie. There is an app for that. And for some reason your boss emailed me over the weekend irate because you hadn’t answered here emails so. I sent you a text because she said it was a #1 priority and would you please get in touch with her…This was 3:37 am. I guess you learned of the emergency this morning at work. Hope you didn’t get into too much trouble. Sorry missed you. I tried. Not sure how she got my email address 🙂

    2. Wow – I am sooo lucky that I don’t have to put up with that sort of stuff anymore. I hate office politics with a passion (probably in large part due to the fact that I suck at them!) and I am grateful to out of that horrible environment.
      I’m glad to hear that you recognize the need to balance your RL and SL – I know far too many people who neglect their RL’s for SL.
      I’m with you – life is too short. We only have a finite amount of time on this earth, and no real idea when that time will be up. I decided several years back after some major losses in my life that making memories with my kids was more important than making loads of money.
      I’ve never regretted it. We may do without some ‘luxuries,’ but my kids have some amazing stories to tell their kids. ;-P

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