Thursday, March 10, 2016

When Is Too Much Information at One Moment Too Much?

I keep kicking myself for not blogging. I want to do it, but I get sidetracked and the day slips by. Yesterday, Nan McCarthy came for what we are calling our Weekly Wednesday Winefest. We have the best conversations!

We both came into the new year with thoughts of our art career directions. This is one of our favorite topics. We are both in a bit of transition and we spend a lot of time discussing possibilities, what to do with our art, how to market it, etc.  

The gallery through which Nan sold a lot of her paintings closed and she spent the past year looking at other venues. So far, nothing has quite filled the need and she was in a bit of a creative slump throughout the end of 2015. The new year brought a new burst of creative energy – until she fell and broke her wrist.

For me, all my energy and efforts have been going into the house renovation. Just as I feel I’m getting settled, the next project throws everything in disarray again. My house is getting Sasha-fied and is looking beautiful on the inside, but this whole process, now well into its sixth month, is not doing anything for my art career… not that I even have the energy to think where I want to go with art at this point.

I finished the writing part of the latest book, but that’s on hiatus as I’m going to be learning Adobe Create Cloud InDesign. And this leads to the next comment:

Sometimes the brain can only take in so much information at one time. When there is too much, like when someone is talking on and on about a subject or you are trying to research one particular aspect of an issue and there are a lot of proponents to the topic, the brain goes on overload and you zone out. How many are willing to admit this happens? The brain needs to process smaller bits of information. Then when that settles, you can go back for the next part.

“Okay, I understand this part, now explain…” 

I’ve always had multiple projects going on as I have so many interests. I don’t know whether it’s this whole house project is sapping any excess energy or it’s age, but lately I’m finding the obstacles more difficult to get over, around, or through. Just as my physical body is no longer able to climb over obstacles, my mental well-being is struggling, too. What does this mean?

For some time I have realized that I’m the type of person that can’t handle a lot of information all at once. I learn things by taking one aspect at a time and when I’m comfortable with that, I go back for the next part. This is why I never want to take full classes. A class will teach you all aspects of whatever it is – camera, computers, programs, etc. Also, when paying money to take a class, it seems a waste to be forced to learn something I am not willing to work with at the time. And often, by the time I’m ready for that step, I’ve forgotten what I learned.

For instance, I bought “Adobe Creative Cloud Design Tools All-in-One for Dummies” (CC). The book is three inches thick. At this moment, all I want to do is get my manuscript ready to publish/print. However, there are so many aspects to CC that I can’t find my way through to where I need to be for this one part. I’ve gone online and am even more confused by all the graphics they are trying to sell me. ALL I want is that one little aspect right now and I feel like I am being bombarded from all directions with everything the programs can do. It’s like looking for a needle in a haystack – a very tiny needle in a huge stack of hay. It’s so overwhelming and my brain just shuts down.

A similar type of subject also came up at two separate meetings I recently attended; one being town meeting. People ask questions and those answering stand up and go on and on and on. They explain to the point of over explaining. It becomes too much information all at once and the brain becomes muddled as the answers turn into a voice that drones on and on. 

And it’s not that the speaker is not intelligent. He has a lot of information or reasoning, but the brain needs to process the information and when given too much people zone out to the speaker. Some people can handle it well, but the majority cannot. Their brains will interpret parts of that incoming information and mix it with their own mind-talk. Other sections of the information will be lost. Miscommunication and confusions sets in. People think they “got it,” and later find out something was misunderstood.

So, how can we better communicate? How can we share information to educate one another to help us understand? How can we answer questions with the right amount of information without frustrating the listeners? When is too much information at one moment too much? 

You’d think because we all speak the same language, everything said should make sense, but phrases are used that some may not fully understand, words may have varying definitions and meanings between those speaking and those hearing, context of what is being said may not be clear or understood correctly.

I know; this is hard when there is a lot of information to present. I think back to how I learn things. There are times when I actually have to write my own steps to do a project. Writing my how-to puts the process in words MY brain uses and understands. I am a great proponent to “sleeping on it” when needing to make a decision.

That may not work in every situation and during public meetings when there are many people present with emotions swirling about, side chatter going on, and other distractions, a long-winded explanation will lose the importance of its message.

During meetings and presentations, people need to dole out the information in smaller increments. They need to let their audience process what is being said. Again, I know; there are time limits to present information or answer questions, people are not always available to attend many meetings, and a myriad of other reasons. 

So, how do we share information, educate, help people understand, and move forward in positive light?

What do you think? Is there a way to break down an overwhelming amount of information to help people process situations better?

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