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how students overcome information overload

Surviving the Digital Onslaught: 11 Ways Students Can Tackle Information Overload

In our digital age, students are constantly bombarded with information. Welcome to the wild, wild world of information – where students navigate through a jungle of articles, assignments, and notifications, hoping not to get tangled. This phenomenon, known as ‘information overload,’ can be daunting, leading to feelings of stress, confusion, and even burnout. 

However, students can manage this overflow with deliberate strategies, ensuring they consume and retain information efficiently and effectively.

Students can deal with information overload with some simple planning. First, break your tasks into smaller steps, making them less overwhelming. Next, use helpful tools or apps to organize and prioritize your work. Remember, it’s not about doing everything but doing what matters most. Finally, take short breaks to keep your brain refreshed. With a clear strategy and a bit of tech help, you’ll tackle information overload like a pro!

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According to a survey, about 78% of people at work might be dealing with information overload from various sources, and 29% feel overwhelmed by all that data. This shows a common problem with technology: too much information and not enough understanding or trust in the data. 

Key Takeaways:

  • The amount of information isn't as crucial as its quality. Prioritize and curate your sources to ensure you're getting the best content.

  • Don't just read; engage. Discuss, teach, and deliberate on topics to deepen your understanding and retention.

  • Digital detoxes, breaks, and rest are not luxuries but necessities in today's information-rich era. Ensure you give your brain the downtime it needs.

  • Navigating the vast sea of information becomes easier when you have a mentor or guide.

  • Clear objectives guide the learning process, eliminating irrelevant data.

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1. Prioritize Tasks 

Why it works: Focusing on what’s essential helps students filter out extraneous information and enhances productivity. It’s like having a roadmap that guides you through all your responsibilities. This skill helps you focus on the most crucial things, making you more productive. It also takes away a lot of stress and makes learning more enjoyable for you.

How to start: Write down all the tasks you need to do. This helps you see everything in one place. Begin each day or study session by listing tasks and ranking them based on importance and deadlines. If you have big assignments, break them into smaller, more manageable parts. It’s easier to tackle smaller pieces one at a time. Don’t overload yourself. Be realistic about what you can accomplish in a given timeframe.

Employees who are good at figuring out what’s most important will be better prepared to make smart decisions for the team.

prioritize for success

2. Digital Detox

Why it works: Disconnecting from digital devices periodically improves mental clarity. Taking a break from digital devices allows you to concentrate better on your studies without constant distractions. It enhances your ability to absorb information and complete tasks more efficiently.

How to start: Designate certain hours of the day as tech-free. Use this time for relaxation, hobbies, or uninterrupted study. Create a wind-down routine that involves disconnecting from screens at least an hour before bedtime. This promotes better sleep and overall well-being. Let your friends, family, and peers know about your digital detox plan. This way, they’ll understand if you’re not immediately responsive and can support your efforts.

In a study, a percentage of people in the UK who own smartphones admitted to experiencing ‘nomophobia,’ which is the fear of losing or not having their phones at all times. This means they often check to ensure they have their phones and worry about losing them. Researchers have discovered a connection between increased screen time, using phones a lot, and mental health challenges, particularly among young people.

Top Strategies Students Can Implement To Combat Information Overload

Strategy Benefits How to Start
Prioritize Tasks
Enhanced Focus, Reduced Stress
List tasks by importance
Digital Detox
Mental Clarity, Reduced Distractions
Allocate tech-free hours
Active Learning Techniques
Improved Retention, Comprehension
Engage in discussions, Teach others
Breaks and Rest
Cognitive Refreshment, Increased Productivity
Take 5-min breaks every hour
Organized Note-taking
Efficient Study, Quick Information Retrieval
Use tools like Evernote, Mind Maps
Limit Multitasking
Increased Accuracy, Better Concentration
Focus on one task at a time
Curated Information Sources
Quality Information, Reduced Noise
Follow reputable sources, Unsubscribe from excess
Set Clear Goals
Directed Learning, Sense of Purpose
Define what you aim to achieve daily
Reflection and Review
Reinforced Learning, Knowledge Consolidation
Dedicate weekly review time
Seek Mentorship
Guided Learning, Reduced Extraneous Info
Engage with experienced individuals
Time Management Tools
Structured Day, Task Efficiency
Utilize apps like Trello, Google Calendar

3. Active Learning Techniques 

Why it works: Actively engaging with the material deepens comprehension and retention. Active learning mirrors real-world problem-solving scenarios. It prepares you for challenges beyond the classroom by teaching you how to apply your knowledge in practical situations.

How to start: Discuss topics with peers or teach someone else instead of passively reading. Create visual concept maps to illustrate relationships between different ideas. Connect concepts with arrows and include brief explanations or keywords. Review your concept map with peers, explaining the relationships you’ve identified.

Solving problems actively helps you understand science way better than just listening to a regular lecture. In fact, it can improve your grades by up to 20% compared to the usual ways of learning. Proof has been piling up for a long time that you remember concepts much longer when you get involved in your studies. Plus, you’ll better use what you’ve learned in different situations.

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4. Breaks and Rest

Why it works: Regular breaks prevent cognitive saturation and refresh the mind. Stepping back from your study materials can spark creativity. Breaks allow your mind to wander, boosting innovative thinking and problem-solving skills.

How to start: Adopt techniques like the Pomodoro method, taking short breaks after focused intervals. Begin with short breaks, around 5-10 minutes. Take a break every 25-30 minutes of focused study. Move around, use your breaks to stand up, stretch, or take a short walk. Physical movement helps refresh your mind and body.

During a research study, about 75% of students got much more done when taking breaks during their study sessions. Interestingly, many took even more breaks when they had the freedom to choose compared to sessions where breaks were planned for them.

Beyond just getting more work done, taking breaks throughout the day can also lower stress levels and keep you from feeling overwhelmed. It’s like giving your mind a breather to stay focused and avoid burnout.

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5. Organized Note-taking 

Why it works: Structured notes enable students to process and retrieve information efficiently. The process of organizing notes itself is a form of active learning.  As you structure and categorize information, you engage more deeply with the material, reinforcing your understanding.

How to start: Decide on a note-taking method that works for you. It could be outlines, the Cornell method, mind maps, or a combination. Use digital tools like Evernote or traditional methods like mind maps. Use colors or symbols to highlight important concepts. This visual distinction will highlight crucial information during reviews. Include diagrams, charts, or graphs to illustrate complex ideas. Visual aids enhance understanding and make your notes more engaging.

The way students read and write is changing because of digital technology, but many still prefer using paper and pen to express themselves. Students multitask about 42% of the time by having non-course-related apps open on their laptops. Even though 70% think laptops are crucial for academic success, half of all students admit they get distracted when other students use laptops.

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6. Limit Multitasking

Why it works: Multitasking often results in reduced efficiency and increased errors. Completing tasks one by one improves overall productivity. You can accomplish more in less time and with higher efficiency.

How to start: Dedicate blocks of time to single tasks rather than juggling multiple activities. Define clear objectives for each task. Be fully present in the task at hand. Engage your senses and concentrate on the details of what you’re doing. Be selective about taking on new tasks.

According to neuropsychologist Cynthia Kubu, Ph.D., our brains are naturally wired to focus on one thing at a time. When we believe we’re multitasking, we usually switch rapidly between individual actions. A study discovered that only 2.5% of people can truly multitask effectively. For most of us, trying to do multiple things simultaneously doesn’t really work as well as we think.

focus on one task at a time

7. Curated Information Sources

Why it works: Reducing the number of information sources eliminates noise and focuses on quality content. Narrowing sources hones your research focus on specific aspects. Your work becomes more targeted and relevant to the subject at hand. Dealing with a smaller pool of sources reduces information overload.

How to start: Unsubscribe from redundant emails, follow reputable news sources, and filter out irrelevant social media content. Explore academic databases, libraries, and reputable online resources. Utilize platforms like Google Scholar, library catalogs, or subject-specific databases to find credible sources. Look for information about the author, publication source, and any reviews or citations.

The aim is to understand how to learn, know where to find information and determine which parts are most important for learning or reaching a specific goal. That’s why new digital literacy skills are really important. They give you mental tools to evaluate better, assess, filter, and organize information.

8. Set Clear Goals

Why it works: Clear objectives guide the learning process, eliminating irrelevant data. Goals give your academic and career journey a sense of purpose. You approach your studies with a meaningful objective, fulfilling the learning experience. When faced with setbacks, you are more likely to persevere and find alternative solutions.

How to start: Daily or weekly, define specific learning or achievement goals. Be specific about what you want to achieve. Clearly define your goals, making them measurable and time-bound. Balance academic and personal development goals. Include goals related to academics, extracurricular activities, and personal well-being.

Out of the 328 students in a study, 69% showed improvement after using goal setting, compared to only 60% before they started setting goals.

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9. Reflection and Review

Why it works: Periodically reviewing material consolidates learning and aids long-term retention. Reviewing allows you to identify areas of weakness or gaps in your understanding. Addressing these gaps ensures a more well-rounded and complete comprehension of the subject.

How to start: Dedicate weekly time to review past notes or material. Begin with short review sessions. Consistency is key, so establish a routine that fits your daily or weekly timetable. Summarise, teach the concepts to yourself, or create flashcards to reinforce learning. Experiment with various review techniques, such as the spaced repetition method.

Regularly reviewing information helps us move new knowledge and skills from our short-term memory to our long-term memory, where we can keep them longer. When you read something again, use a reading strategy to make it more effective.

10. Seek Mentorship

Why it works: Mentors provide guidance, ensuring you access relevant information and avoid pitfalls. Mentors help you explore and understand career paths. They often introduce you to professional networks. You acquire practical skills and knowledge beyond the classroom.

How to start: List your interests and areas where you seek guidance. Engage with professors, industry professionals, or senior students in your field. Attend industry-related events, conferences, or workshops. Investigate alumni associations related to your educational institution. Offer to volunteer or intern in your field of interest.

In a study from 2022, it was found that students who have mentors are 52% less likely to miss school and 37% less likely to skip classes. Teachers believe that mentors greatly impact students, with 95% saying so. Moreover, students with mentors are 81% more likely to participate in sports and extracurricular activities.

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11. Time Management Tools

Why it works: Effective time management ensures students allocate sufficient time for each task, preventing last-minute cramming. Systematic exam preparation reduces last-minute stress and enhances performance. Skills acquired through effective time management become valuable in professional and personal life.

How to start: Use digital tools like Trello, Google Calendar, or even traditional planners to structure your day. Identify tasks based on urgency and importance. Dedicate specific blocks of time to different activities, helping maintain focus and avoid multitasking. Set realistic time limits to prevent overcommitting and ensure efficient use of time.

According to a study by Development Academy, a surprising 82% of people don’t use any kind of time management system. Despite this, 33% of respondents mentioned using simple to-do lists to handle their work.

Additionally, 25% said they tackle what feels most important first, while 24% rely on their email inboxes to manage priorities and time. About 12% reported writing a schedule in a diary or planner, which qualifies as a time management system.


Facing an abundance of information can be overwhelming for you. However, armed with the right strategies, you can confidently navigate this flood of information. It’s not just about knowing a lot; it’s about using what you know effectively. With these strategies, you can filter, process, and make the most of the available information, ensuring success in your academic and personal endeavors.

So, get ready! You’re not just surviving; you’re thriving in this knowledge journey. From deciphering lectures to mastering the web, you’ve got this. The power is in your hands – give it a shot!

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you deal with study overload?

Take a stroll to reenergize both body and mind. Opt for short breaks, snack included, to refresh during study sessions. Incorporate a timed power nap for a brain boost. Embrace Zen practices to alleviate study stress. Keep your study space organized for improved focus, and consider unleashing your inner artist for some stress relief.

What causes information overload in students?

Information overload in students is caused by the overwhelming amount of data available for processing, coupled with the pressure to complete tasks within a short time, and the ease of creating, duplicating, and sharing information online.

Why can't students retain information?

When we learn something new, it goes into our short-term memory, which can only hold a little bit of info. If we don’t make an effort to move it to our long-term memory, it’ll just fade away over time.

How can teachers help students retain information?

Regularly taking practice tests is like hitting the refresh button for your memory. It not only helps you remember things for the long run but also acts as a shield against stress, which can mess with your memory.

How do you teach students to retain information?

Optimize your learning with diverse approaches. Don’t stick to just one method—try multiple ways. Share your newfound knowledge with someone else. Use what you already know to build a foundation for new information. Get hands-on experience to enhance understanding. Instead of struggling to remember, look up answers. Identify your preferred learning style. Test yourself to reinforce learning. And lastly, ditch multitasking for focused, effective learning.

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