Days 112 Extra - Question markToo Much Information can come in many forms – paper, TV/radio, e-mails, social media, phones, and bad news. As much as conscientious people want to be informed, still collectively it can create mental clutter. The solution is not to become ignorant, but rather to differentiate the important from the trivial or distracting. Having now spent 10 weeks analyzing my own consumption of information, I offer you the following insights:

Just as clearing out tangible things from your life require assessment of what’s really necessary, so too clearing mental clutter requires assessing how important is the news, when is it repetitive, and how much time it takes?
A Strategy: Log your news diet for a week.

  • How much time do you average a day consuming info from newspapers, magazines, TV, radio, email, and social media?
  • Rank your life priorities (family time, job, direct interaction with friends, spiritual fulfillment, volunteer work…). Outside of sleep and job, how much time each day do you devote to your priorities? How much time is left?
  • How does your news consumption time compare with what’s most important in your life? The rule of thumb I’m coming to myself is that if my news consumption is more than 10% (2½ hours) of my day, it’s probably too much.
  • If most of the news is trivial or passing, cut it back more.

The 10% rule is arbitrary and will vary depending on whether you are in the active parenting stage of life, retired, media is your job, etc. Still I liked the cleanness of the number 10 and it coincides with the biblical standard of tithing 10% of one’s income. 😕


  • Unsubscribe from little read newspapers, junk mail, email bulletins, sales calls.
  • Organize your email. This can be tedious but if you don’t already have a system for filtering and putting things in logical folders, do it now. It will save you time in the future.
  • Get control of Facebook and other social media. I’m tempted to say “Cancel Facebook” since it can be a time hog. BUT, I get too much good information about my far flung family, friends who I don’t see much, and causes that I care about to go cold turkey. Instead I skim and delete purely social posts and retain articles I want to read later for when I’m on hold.

Since I can’t bring myself to actually skip listening to NPR or an interesting podcast I multitask while walking, folding laundry, traveling.

Waiting time can also be a time to multitask. For example, waiting on hold for tech support is a time to check Facebook, waiting at a doctor’s office is a time to read the newspaper, waiting in line at a store can be a time to chat with your child (or embarrass your teen). Still these might also be times to consider NOT being “productive” in the traditional sense. Sometimes I try to take this time to pray for the person in front of me in line or for the people in the cars around me.

As much as I like to maximize my use of time, we Type A personalities, might consider just doing nothing. Sometimes solitude is what I need in the midst of noise, busyness, and crowds. Sometimes the decision to just sit or stand mindfully is the way to handle Too Much Information. Let the pressure go and remember point #1 – What’s important.

For more detail on TMI, see my posts on paper, TV/radio, computers, phones, and bad news.