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caedmyn

information overload, or deciding what to read/listen/subscribe to

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I've always enjoyed learning new things and researching various topics.  I don't watch TV/movies, I read non-fiction and special interest blogs, watch webinars, and listen to podcasts.  Sometimes this has proved helpful, but when I think about the dozens of parenting/special needs/self-help books I've read over the past several years, and the very small amount of information from those books that I've actually put into practice for more than a week or two, it seems like a bit of a waste of time. Same things with the many blog posts I've read.  Then there's the assorted webinars or online conference talks I've watched, many of which have only repeated information I already knew. There's definitely been things that were well worth the time I spent watching/listening/reading, but that's a lot of time to spend for the few gems of information/advice I've gleaned.  I think I need to develop some sort of philosophy that I can use to decide what media consumption is actually worthwhile.

 

How do you decide what (non-fiction) books to read, what blogs to subscribe to, and what podcasts or webinars to watch?

 

 

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I go in with the attitude that if 10% of a book/program etc was useful it was worth the time. So perhaps I have a low bar. But a lot of reading is just enjoying other people's perspectives even if I have zero plan of ever adopting any of it. It's just interesting. I go in too many different directions to have a system. I stockpile books, podcasts, and blogs until a certain mood strikes. Especially podcasts and blogs. They're mostly (except some podcasts) free so no harm in stocking up! :)

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Like you, I tend to focus on SN. There is a lot of fluff in non fiction books on topics that pertain to us. Mostly because we're now specialists in a not of subjects. :). If I learn a few things (as long as the time investment isn't huge), that's fine. Some things I put into practice and some I don't. But repeated exposure is helpful for truly good ideas.

 

I feel it's also useful to branch out a bit. I need to declutter, so I listen to a decluttering blog. We listen to brains on in the car for a podcast. When I'm by myself it's NPR, which always seems to discuss topics I have no knowledge about.

 

For me, if I focus too much on topics just for the kids, it's too much work. I need downtime. I do like to read, but immersing myself in books to help the DC all the time means I'm always working. If I switch to thinking about a hobby I'd like, or something for me, it's more enjoyable. Idk if that's an issue for you.

 

I read a lot of general news too.

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I'm right there with you. I find myself spending too much time online; yet, I have learned so many tidbits of knowledge that make me feel like I am more on top of things, so where do I get that knowledge otherwise? I'm kind of tired of "trying to keep up" though.

 

As for books, for the first time in my life, I have been putting aside books without completing them. That is so hard for me! I want to be able to say I finished them, especially if I know they are widely recommended. But when I am not engaging with one--do I really want to waste those hours on it?

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Well...

 

We tend to learn from and retain stuff we are interested in. Which to me means invest time in whatever is of interest to you at the moment, preferably from a quality source.

 

Which is probably what you have been doing all along.

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One more thing re: waste of time.

 

Do you get some kind of benefit from the time spent? For me, the kind of reading/listening you describe is a primary way of relaxing. And that has value above and beyond whatever useful knowledge I may gain or use. Or not.

 

I didn't understand how I was using that time to relax until I attempted a media fast and discovered that without my regular reading breaks throughout the day my anxiety and stress levels got higher and higher as the day went on.

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Another reason this kind of research can help with stress is that, for me at least, researching something relevant to a problem I am facing feels like doing something about the problem. And doing something reduces problem related stress.

Edited by maize

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One more thing re: waste of time.

 

Do you get some kind of benefit from the time spent? For me, the kind of reading/listening you describe is a primary way of relaxing. And that has value above and beyond whatever useful knowledge I may gain or use. Or not.

 

I didn't understand how I was using that time to relax until I attempted a media fast and discovered that without my regular reading breaks throughout the day my anxiety and stress levels got higher and higher as the day went on.

 

 

Another reason this kind of research can help with stress is that, for me at least, researching something relevant to a problem I am facing feels like doing something about the problem. And doing something reduces problem related stress.

 

Yes and yes...up to a point.  I am very much a box-checker, and even though reading overall is a stress reducer, and researching too, I end up feeling like I *have* to get all these things read or researched as soon as possible, and it ends up feeling like just more to add to my to-do list and more that I need to try to cram into every spare second.  Which is why I really need to figure out some sort of criteria to limit what I have to read or research at any given time.

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 But a lot of reading is just enjoying other people's perspectives even if I have zero plan of ever adopting any of it. It's just interesting.

 

This. I do spend time reading about and listening to subjects that are relevant to me, but some are just interesting even if they don't and won't ever apply to me. 

 

One more thing re: waste of time.

 

Do you get some kind of benefit from the time spent? For me, the kind of reading/listening you describe is a primary way of relaxing. And that has value above and beyond whatever useful knowledge I may gain or use. Or not.

 

I didn't understand how I was using that time to relax until I attempted a media fast and discovered that without my regular reading breaks throughout the day my anxiety and stress levels got higher and higher as the day went on.

 

:iagree: I don't think learning is ever a waste of time. Learning for the sake of learning is a perfectly good use of time. OTOH, so is spending time reading/watching/listening to fluff, for entirely different reasons. The time spent learning helps you to become more well rounded. The time spent on fluff/twaddle can help you de-stress, even if you don't consciously realize it's working that way.

Edited by Lady Florida.

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There is an AVALANCHE of information available. One must be very picky about what they spend their time reading or listening to.

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Yes and yes...up to a point. I am very much a box-checker, and even though reading overall is a stress reducer, and researching too, I end up feeling like I *have* to get all these things read or researched as soon as possible, and it ends up feeling like just more to add to my to-do list and more that I need to try to cram into every spare second. Which is why I really need to figure out some sort of criteria to limit what I have to read or research at any given time.

Hm.

 

Maybe--with the box checking in mind--plan to read/research not more than 1 book or two blogs/websites regarding an issue?

 

Can you skim read?

 

I'm not a box checker so don't feel this kind of compulsion. I'm thinking though that a quantity and/or time limit might work.

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Yes and yes...up to a point. I am very much a box-checker, and even though reading overall is a stress reducer, and researching too, I end up feeling like I *have* to get all these things read or researched as soon as possible, and it ends up feeling like just more to add to my to-do list and more that I need to try to cram into every spare second. Which is why I really need to figure out some sort of criteria to limit what I have to read or research at any given time.

Maybe keep a list of ideas to implement per book/blog. Once done with the book or article, analyze what on the list is possible for you and spend time trying it out, scheduling, etc. I would not continue researching if the list got too long because I'd also feel pressure to institute a lot of changes.

 

It takes work to change, and work to do therapies for kids or whatever. And a lot fails, some works, and some the kids (or I), grow out of of needing anymore.

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