TLDR - Too many notifications? Too much information? Turn off notifications, avoid useless dashboards, and schedule your content consumption.

A new product that packages information into a sexy dashboard has exploded in popularity since launching less than 24 hours ago. Right now it ranks number one in the iPad app store, but is it really that great? More importantly, why is it so popular?

The Root Cause, Why dashboards appeal to us

There are countless reasons we are attracted to dashboards:

  • We are overwhelmed with information - We live in a world of information overload and anything that attempts to consolidate, simplify, and segment that information into digestible bites is desired. Examples of companies that have validated this concept: Flipboard, Tweetdeck, Mailbox, and more.
  • We desire organization - It’s easy to feel overwhelmed in life. While this is a symptom of information overload, achieving balance is what we all want. However balance is effectively impossible. Anything that can helps us to organize our thoughts and compartmentalize them is desired. To-do list products, contact books, personal finance products, and calendars are examples of products people use to try and organize their lives.
  • We want control - It turns out, all our attempts to organize our lives have resulted in us becoming slaves to notifications. At some point, many of our products begin to control us rather than the other way around. All the tools that supposedly make us productive bleed into others (via notifications/alerts/etc) making us feel helpless (or out of control). Taking those notifications and stuffing them in a single source, the dashboard, appears to solve that problem.

Dashboards Are Another Distraction

Attempting to consolidate all your notifications in a single place does little to solve the problem. Instead, each widget in the dashboard presents a new rabbit hole for you to fall into. In other words, it’s incredibly challenging to effectively select mission critical information. For most people, very few things are mission critical.

Seize control of your information consumption!

Segment your responsibilities at work and at home and focus on each individually. Your net output is the direct result of which information you choose to prioritize. Discipline over your information consumption is critical.

Unless the dashboard is a research tool, it will do nothing but distract you from your existing task at hand.

The Solution

Simply put, you need to choose which information you are going to digest and when. Without structure, you are falling prey to the endless passive consumption cycle. Want a more clear cut solution? Here’s your answer:

  1. Turn off all notifications - They will destroy your life. Let people know that if they want to get a hold of you for an emergency, they must call or text you directly. All non-emergencies will be sent to your inbox, or elsewhere.
  2. Schedule your active consumption - Prioritize that information which is most important to you. While email, calendars, and to-do lists can be productive, you need to determine when you are going to work on each.
  3. Schedule time for passive consumption - A little bit of bored at work content is acceptable, but put aside time for it. Otherwise you can quickly fall down the rabbit hole of clicking on one article, then another, then the next, until your day is done.
  4. Enjoy life! - Seriously, all the information noise can become a complete distraction, increasing your ADD symptoms (whether or not you have ADD, you probably have some of the symptoms).

Need further help taming your content addiction? Try out the Self Control app.