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On My Mind: Media Overload

Hi friends! It’s been a whole week since you’ve heard from me and I wanted to share some of the stuff that’s on my plate.

At work I’m learning something new every week. Last week I designed some stickers that I can’t wait to share with you once they’ve been approved and loaded into the app. At home, we’ve had a bunch of family gatherings in honor of Jeremy’s completion of grad school as well as Father’s day. This past  weekend we took Zero to the Norther California Corgi Con at Fort Funston. It was so much fun! He even found a look-a-like named London.

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(photos courtesy: Meng-Hua Wu

I’ve also had two clients on the side. One is a large website re-design for a Jewish Congregation here in San Francisco, which is not my usual niche but I welcome new challenges. The second is the first “client”/students to come out of Light Up Your Brand Workshop. When I have more solid process work I will definitely be sharing with you some of the insights I’ve had about working with both clients. So as you can imagine, I’ve been insanely busy. So much so that I’ve fallen behind with the #mypieceofhappy , practice but once I get a handle on these deadlines, I will start up again.

Media Overload

Right now I want to talk about media overload. Recently I’ve been really struggling with my digital life. Between facebook, twitter, blog lovin, pinterest, instagram, keeping up with my own blog, and my ever growing un-opened emails in my inbox (2,000 and rising), it’s been difficult to digest all this information. There’s always something that I wish I had time for, but if I stopped to read every email, tweet and blog post, I would spend the day reading and not working.

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I’ve learned that I can’t keep my twitter open. Some people can have theirs open and browse casually throughout the day. Maybe they even have conversations with people. I can’t. I can’t follow the enormous amount of news and stories and posts that happen on a second by second basis because I feel this sense of panic that I’m missing out. And I don’t follow my friends, I follow people and groups that share inspiring content, so my list is much smaller than I think the average user.

I feel this sense of  overwhelming panic when I see my twitter feed update every second with more and more stories.

And my email is the same thing. I have subscribed to so many “marketing experts” and “design leaders” that I find both inspiring and valuable to follow, that I often can’t keep up with their emails. I feel overwhelmed by the offers, the webinars, and the free ebooks and yet I feel compelled to keep downloading, keep subscribing because I’m hoarding the knowledge in hopes that one day I will sit down and use it and become a better person for knowing it.

On bloglovin I currently follow 68 blogs and I have over 700 blog posts that I haven’t read. My app crashes often because the number of posts it has to load. Even if only 10% of those blogs posted a day, how can anyone keep up with reading all that content? And no one told me I have to. But I was inclined to follow, to be inspired. Because that’s how people do it right? They consume the media put out by others, they learn something or feel fulfilled and hopefully engage with it and grow their own following.

I struggle with being an individual, having my own voice.

On top of fighting my urge to filter and engage with this content, I struggle with being an individual, having my own voice and finding time to write down and share my own thoughts here on my blog. I have a running list of topics that I know would be so valuable to share with people, but I get hung up on finding the time to write, finding the time to create the artwork that expresses these concepts.

So I went to an event

Wednesday night I went to this Tech Panel called “Life Hacking: Technology and Practical design for every day life”  hosted by the Bold Italic and General Assembly. It was exactly the topic I was looking for. I wanted answers. On the panel we had Jen Panasik from IDEO, Billy Sorrentino from Wired, and Francis Pedraza from Everest. They talked about the information overload and how everyone struggles to digest and manage their media and balance their life.

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What really resonated with me was that Jen spoke about how in moments of crisis we have to compartmentalize our data. Jen uses a filtering system to label which emails/calls are the most important and which ones can wait. She spoke about how she used to use multiple alarms get her her kids out the door in the morning and realized that it “just became noise”. She learned that too many alarms actually hurt her abilities to leave on time.

Francis was very charming and has an ability to take big concepts and wrap them up in entertaining metaphors. He told us that he recently purged his life of all things he deemed un-necessary. He deleted 2,000 facebook friends, he gave away clothing he never wore, and he even radically changed the way diviedes up his time. He said he gives his work at Everest 1/3 of his time, he gives consulting/conference going 1/3 of his time and he spends the last 1/3 traveling and doing personal things that energize him and relax him. It sounds wonderful, but the question I didn’t get to ask him was how? How do you designate that much time to work and get away with it?

I think Billy’s mentality about work actually aligns with myself the most. He said he takes a different approach to work than Francis where he actually probably works too much because he enjoys it. Some really great things that came from Billy were:

 If you are working hard, then you are avoiding hard decisions

When he said that, I knew exactly what he was talking about. The reason why I push my self so hard, why I think any of us do, is that we are working toward making a passion our “day job”. For me, that means turning my passion (freelancing, blogging, educating) into steady income that allows me to work on my terms. So right now, I’m following Billy’s other good piece of advice and I’m making my passion my night job. 

But a question I still have is.. how do you do that and not sacrifice your quality time with your significant other, your family, your pets? Where do you draw the line?

On nights where I feel focused and accomplished, are the nights that I spend hours alone in my home office working, away from my boyfriend and dog. If I do too many of those in a row, they start to suffer and feel neglected. Where is the balance? Do people just not sleep anymore? Do they spend 2-3 hours a night with family and then go back to work until the early hours of the morning, get a few hours of rest, then go back to their day jobs? There has to be a better way.

So as you can see, I have no answers, and am actually requesting some from anyone willing to share how they balance their passions, their work, and their life.

I believe I will take a page out of Francis’ book and purge my subscriptions, my follows, and and ask myself this:

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How do you handle media overload?

2 Comments
  • Definitely can agree with so many things in this post! Firstly, corgis are so adorable! So glad Zero had a wonderful time. Secondly, it’s so easy to be caught up in media overload. We’re constantly surrounded by it, even offline. There’s hashtags on posters, we’re reminded to check in at businesses, and there is hardly any space that doesn’t offer us the ability to be plugged in. I have been cutting back on the information I take in, the blogs I follow, and it’s really helped me focus on the good! Sometimes we just need to unplug!

    23 June, 2014 at 11:40 am