Hoarding information feels good – being prepared for anything. Building a masonry wall, amusing friends with cartoon catchphrases in Latin, or explaining the dance language of bees…all possible if you remember where you put it. At some point, too much information equals too little. What good is it if it can’t be found? Or detracts from truly useful information and prevents goal achievement? Characterized by obsessively saving information because it might be ‘useful’ later, hoarding derails life in myriad ways.
Hoarded information clutters your space and makes finding truly relevant information difficult. Stray papers across your desk, never-visited internet bookmarks, and paper books you’ll read…someday…add nothing to your life. The extra, useless data cloaks the useful bits both physically and mentally. Physically, the sheer volume of clutter too much information produces hides everything. The real damage of too much, though, shows mentally. Hoarding amasses such amounts of information no one could utilize it all. Most isn’t helpful, useful, or relevant…but it ‘might’ be. As the pile grows, despair sets in. Knowing it all is impossible. With so much information in the world, fully understanding any one topic is impossible, let alone everything you ‘might’ need. The only answer is to hoard more. Hoarding feeds on itself, pushing focus out of the way in the quest to appease the almighty ‘might’.
The focus on hoarding information rather than bending it to your needs sucks time from your day. It sucks small amounts at first; the few seconds it takes to print out an alternate recipe for apple pie, or to bookmark that new blog. After it starts to become too much, it sucks time. Digging through three stacks of printed recipes you’ve never tried to find the one from Grandma, or scrolling through hundreds of bookmarks for the few visited each week. Even worse, these moments lead to thoughts of organizing the information. Then you waste time cataloguing, sorting, and otherwise tending to too much useless data. Buying binders and other organizing tools often seems warranted. Great. Now it’s sucking time and money.
Additionally, hoarded information usually lacks focus. This lack leaks over into daily life. The assorted bits pull at you. Each piece demands attention. Consequently, the day becomes divided into small sections spent pursuing wildly divergent paths. Admittedly, each is of interest. However, too much time spent poring over tidbits pushes out time for prolonged study. Suddenly, you aren’t truly good at anything. Possessing few skills beyond hoarding, any skills mastered are likely to be trivial, picked up accidentally in the course of flitting amongst the clutter. The information controls now; it decides how to spend time. You have no goals. The lure of too much information pulls away from them, makes them impossible to achieve.
By eliminating the clutter and time issues raised by hoarding information, and focusing on what’s truly important, life can become meaningful again. And wouldn’t that be better than the triviality of too much information? The first step is realizing.