When You Are In Information Overload

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Do you ever feel like that? Like your head is spinning with so much information that you have a hard time slowing down your thoughts long enough to make sense of it?

That’s where I’m at this week. My head has been literally spinning. It’s all good stuff, and I can’t wait for it all to settle down in my brain, but right now it all feels a bit mushy.

I have been doing a lot of research lately on educational philosophies. (I will get back to writing more of those. Someday soon.) We have decided to homeschool Stefan, and I am deep in research about what I want it to look like in our home.

I don’t think I have to have it all figured out before we even start. I know that in many ways our philosophy will evolve as I get a better grasp for what works for our family. But I want to be prepared. And even what curriculum I pick has to be carefully selected. Does it match our philosophy, values, how I believe children learn best, and our overarching goals? Those are all questions I am asking right now.

I have spent hours and hours researching this in the last month. Of course, I have researched in the past because I love the subject of how children learn, but lately it has been with more intensity. More focus and vision. And I’m tired.

I think our brains often go through cycles. For a time we are taking in information. I know when I was beginning to simplify I read everything I could on the subject. I tried every idea I came across until I found a comfortable place that worked well for our family. Then there comes a time when we need to let the information settle and actually do something with it. I need to let the dust settle again with this topic.

It’s time to step away.

Brian told me the other day that I needed to stop researching the topic of education for a couple of weeks. I needed to let the information settle in my brain, so to speak, and then come back to it when I have more mental energy to devote to it.

He’s right. Whatever it is that we are learning about, researching, or trying to change in our lives there are times when we need to step away and get the big picture again.

I have information stored away in my brain. I have read and taken lots of notes. From books to articles to people’s personal experiences I have read about more possible ways of educating our children at home than you can imagine. Now its time to let it all settle. (I know I’ll be back at researching in a few weeks, though!)

Whatever is on our learning curve at the moment is when we can be in danger of information overload. You may be researching information about a potential move, or a new topic of interest, or even decorating ideas for your home. Eventually, there comes a point where all that information needs time to settle.

I have to step back now so that I can make sense of everything I have learned. And I’m excited because for the next few weeks instead of continually learning new information, I am going to be mulling over what I already know. And hopefully that will allow me to make some more concrete decisions and plans.

Do you ever get to a point where you are in information overload and need to step back? What do you do to see the big picture again?


  1. Yes, I’ve definitely reached a point of information overload. I tend to research things too much and debate with myself the best way to put it into practice in my own life, or is this the best choice; maybe I should go with another option; what if I looked into this aspect of it some more.

    I drive myself nuts with it honestly, and usually I end up dealing with it by just picking something and taking action.

    • I drive myself nuts to! You’re right, though, sometimes the only thing to do is to just pick and go with it!

  2. Hi Johanna! This is exactly what has been happening to me over these past months, what with a move, a change of lifestyle, and deciding to homeschool my two kids at least this year. After researching so much I found I was like you – saturated even to the point I couldn’t fall asleep at night for all the thoughts and ideas buzzing erratically around my mind. I did try to do what you suggested in another post, which helped somewhat – writing stuff down before going to bed to “empty” your brain :) But this post helps me see it’s also ok to stop researching for a while, step away, let it settle, and put into practice what I have so far. Then I can always get back to it :) Thanks!!

    • So glad to know I’m not alone with this problem! We might be moving next fall which is when Stefan will be officially school age so I am trying to do the school planning ahead of time, but I still know I’m going to be overwhelmed!

  3. I find myself having to step back often. Usually when I do, all those “I-need-to-change/do-that-right-now” things settle to the point where I can more accurately assess where I’m at and what I need to implement. Step back for a clear vision. Absolutely necessary! :)

  4. Definitely!

    When we don’t build in rest along the way–whether physical or mental–or bodies and brains tend to crash much earlier on their own. (As you already wrote some about in a post. :))

    We also need mental “space” to process what we’re taking in. Otherwise, we can get “burned out” on a topic or study or subject. (Again, why diversifying our reading, studying, interests, etc…, can be helpful.)

    Only slightly related (and rather random ramblings on my part), because it deals more with physical overload than mental, but it is interesting to see the patterns of feasting and fasting with the people of God in the OT. It’s an interesting pattern that shows up in a lot of areas of life (and many other cultures), and it seems to be most beneficial when we are having pauses between extremes of activities.

    • Yes, which is why I’m now making headway on other books/topics for right now!

      That’s really interesting about the feasting/fasting. I hadn’t thought of that at all before, but I’m reading Spiritual Parenting and she mentions something along those lines as well.
      I do think that the pauses between the extremes are some of the most fruitful times of life.

  5. I’m finding this to be so true with French learning right now. I’m thankful for the built- in “step back from overload” times we have–like 3 day weekends (not that there aren’t plenty of other things going on during those weekends or that we aren’t exposed to / using French, but it’s not like the intense classroom time) and vacation weeks. It’s after the take-a-break times that I see the benefit of having had that break and am able to get a clearer view of my progress. So, it’s after everything “settles” that the encouragement seems to come that I HAVE learned something from all that work. Thanks for your encouraging post–we all need time away from our “studies”!

    • This actually makes a lot of sense to me. I have read that children learn and process information while they are sleeping. So, the pause between the times of learning are actually when they process it more deeply. So it would make sense that when you stop between extreme times of intense learning of the foreign language, that all the material processes. Anyway, don’t know if that even makes sense…but interesting to think about!

  6. Yes! Taking the time to just breathe and be is so necessary for me. I can get headaches, literally, from information overload – which is a great time to recognize your body screaming “back off!!” – process and regroup.

    • I tend to process the information better once I step away. Get my information, then back off as you say and let it all process!

  7. I love the picture and caption for this post! I’ve definitely had this problem. I step away, and remember to use the internet as inspiration, but then to step away and let my own mind do the actual work!


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