Information Overload and Digital Dependency

More and more people are having trouble remaining focused and are experiencing memory slippage, due to information overload and relying far too much on digital devices.

Does this sound like you?

“I used to know all the phone numbers of family and friends. Now I I’m completely dependent on my phone’s contact list. If I loose my phone, I’m unable to call my dearest and dearest.”

The reliance on digital devices results in two problems. First, research indicates that the more we rely on Google or Ask Siri-type sources of information, the more we tend to rely on them rather than our memory, especially if we are overusing our devices. Second, the constant flow of emails and social media interruptions has a negative effect on productivity, critical thinking, and creativity.

We experience an information overload, especially if we are overusing your devices.   As our brains are bombarded with information and we are forced to multi task, it seems that or minds shift into overdrive while our memory drops into low gear. It is no wonder that everyone seems to be more prone to forget names, numbers and facts, misplace keys, lose papers, forget correspondence or miss appointments.

As with other cognitive functions, several factors may impair our memory. These include fatigue, side effects of medication, illness, stress, and over consumption of caffeine (slows blood flow to brain), tobacco (constricts blood flow) or alcohol or drugs (kills brain cells).

Seven Tips to Help You Improve Memory and Focus

  1. Create routines. For example, put hooks by the door to hang your keys, or a bowl to hold wallet or glasses.  Slow down and take the extra minute to think about what you are doing.
  2. Create checklists that you won’t lose. For example, post a checklist in a visible place or find an appealing digital format.
  3. Differentiate between a checklist and a brainstorm. For example, jot down all the “to dos” and then prioritize the items and take the time to schedule on your calendar.
  4. Stop multitasking. It may seem that you can do two things at once, but research indicates that if you want to remember something, you need to focus on it.  Multitasking slows you down and increases the chances of forgetfulness.
  5. Use your senses. For example, feel your keys, papers, or other items as you place them. Augment the process by say, “I’m putting the keys on the desk.” Once placed, use your mind’s eye to visualize the item. When parking a car, note the location, take a photo of it, or dictate the information into your phone.
  6. Take time to memorize important facts. For example, learn 10 important phone numbers, social security number, and one credit card.
  7. Create cheat sheets of important numbers. Keep written notes such as your license, important passwords, or phone numbers in case you lose your phone or computer.

Stress and the Brain

Stress compounds memory problems.  Therefore, in addition to using memory tips, consider making a concerted effort to eliminate, and/or reduce stress through stress management. There are many things that you can’t control, but using these and other tips, getting more sleep, and lowering your stress will help your memory, your ability to focus and enhance your productivity.

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