The paradox of choice, multitaksing and decision making in the age of information overload.


I came across those two talks.

In view of work load, deliverables, priorities, dissemination and channels and activities to communicate on...

I thought watching those might have some good inspiration, food-for-thought, something for everyone.

In my case, I can take a lot to think about and apply the web; user behaviour, accessibility, web writing and content creation, user experience, ...

The paradox of choice; unlimited choice increases paralysis, decreases satisfaction.

Good TED talk to watch -

From the transcript

All of this choice has two effects, two negative effects on people.
One effect, paradoxically, is that it produces paralysis rather than liberation.
With so many options to choose from, people find it very difficult to choose at all.
second effect is that, even if we manage to overcome the paralysis and
make a choice, we end up less satisfied with the result of the choice
than we would be if we had fewer options to choose from.
The more options there are, the easier it is to regret anything at all that is disappointing about the option that you chose.
there are lots of alternatives to consider, it's easy to imagine the
attractive features of alternatives that you reject that make you less
satisfied with the alternative that you've chosen.
There's no question that some choice is better than none.
But it doesn't follow from that that more choice is better than some choice.
There's some magical amount. I don't know what it is.

Thinking Straight in an Age of Information Overload

Also a good talk to watch (though long!)

From the transcript

I want to talk about three big ideas...
brain extenders, and
decision making in the age of information overload.

First, some numbers, just to quantify what [is] information overload. [...]
YouTube uploads 6,000 hours of new video.
So that means for every hour of YouTube video you watch, you're following 5,999 hours behind.
The only way you could possibly keep up is if you had 6,000 screens going all at once.[...]
What can we do about it?

Well, what many of us do about it is we multitask.
We do a whole bunch of things at once, figuring that that way, we can
manage all of the stuff that's coming at us from all different sides.
But it turns out that multitasking is a myth. [...]
Multitasking does not exist.What's actually happening in the brain is sequential tasking.The brain is rapidly shifting
from one thing to the next. [...]
what you end up with is attention that's been fractionated into little
three to five seconds bits, and you're not able to actually sustain
attention on any one thing.Multitasking is also responsible for that
mental fog [...]
You're wasting time... the people who were
multitasking were getting less done by any measure than the people who
were unitasking.
... multitasking? Well, it's an illusion... the
brain is very good at self-delusion. [...]... attention switching, such
as we do during multitasking, and decision making deplete fuel in the

Vacation and breaks are important... The most restorative kinds of breaks are things where your mind can really wander.

I want to shift and talk about brain extenders.
The idea is that if you want to be more productive and creative, don't
load up your brain with stuff that doesn't need to be there. [...]
to externalize is we write things down. As soon as you put something on
paper, your brain no longer needs to keep track of it.Now, Google [the
web] has, of course, been the de facto information source for the last
number of years, replacing long trips to the library, [...]
We can
get [facts] in half a second on an object we hold in our hands that has
more processing power than Apollo Mission Control had.

I wanted to talk about is decision making. With all of this information at our fingertips, we have the power to make decisions that we couldn't make before. [...]
course, the difficult thing is separating the digital wheat from the
digital chaff, trying to figure out what is good information and what is
It's more likely that [solutions] come from people who were thinking outside the box, as we say, thinking creatively.
[that's] not going to happen while you're doing 10 things at once and
giving five seconds of attention to each one.It's going to happen when
you have a sustained period to deal with them.

FYI - deep work & distractions

Attention is nowadays the most important "currency".

Everyone, everything is competing for our attention; work, the internet, social media, you kids, pets, ...

[...] people switch activities every 3 to 10 minutes (Singer & Alexander).

The Economist in a the article "The small consolations of office irritations" states that

Context-switching [...] is more than simply annoying.
[...] it takes people nine and a half minutes to resume a focused state of mind [...]

Related reading

More Stuff I Think

Cookies disclaimer saves very few cookies onto your device: we need some to monitor site traffic using Google Analytics, while another protects you from a cross-site request forgeries. Nevertheless, you can disable the usage of cookies by changing the settings of your browser. By browsing our website without changing the browser settings, you grant us permission to store that information on your device. More details in our Privacy Policy.