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Too much information?

Sometimes it’s not the questions that provoke anxiety, it’s the answers. We might Google a particular question and get 10,000 possible sites to browse through. Who has that kind of time?

We might want to have a quiet evening with a little entertainment. Only problem is, the DVD machine has all those buttons. What are they for?

Or we might be visiting with friends when they mention a news story we had not heard or perhaps they will mention an ostensibly famous name. We don’t know the name and quite frankly “ostensibly” isn’t a word we are familiar with either. (It means apparently.)

Next, we are thinking that we are not keeping up with what’s going on. Or that we are the only ones who don’t know how things work. The good news is that anxiety about information doesn’t have to be part of your life.

Here’s some tips to keep information manageable:

Separate what you are really interested in from what you think you should be interested in. People can live wonderful lives without knowing any of the recipients of the Order of Canada, or how to fix their cars or how to fill out their income tax forms.

Recognize that there is much you won’t understand. The person next to you may or may not understand it as well. Use your ignorance as an inspiration to learn and not as something to conceal. You don’t know what you don’t know.

Only use as much technology as you need. All of the features available are there for selling purposes. If they don’t suit your needs, don’t worry about them.

Plan an information strategy. Determine what areas of your life are giving you anxiety. It could be financial (dealing with insurance, loan applications or mortgages) or electronic (what does that error message mean?) or medical (understanding health issues). Then decide which areas are worth conquering and which aren’t. Learning is the process of remembering what you are interested in. Books, magazines, classes or talking with the more experienced are all resources for learning. As much as you want or need.

Liz Betz writes from Vermilion, Alberta

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