How audiences and creators can beat content overload.

This post was supposed to be from the perspective of the content marketer who is neck-deep in content requests from their web and demand teams. After some research though, it became obvious that our audiences also feel like they are in a vicious rinse-and-repeat content cycle too.

The truth is, worldwide, the average person spends a total of 6 hours and 57 minutes looking at a screen each day (for internet-connected activities). US adults spent 13 hours and 11 minutes per day with media in 2022. Although there are no actual stats on how much time a person is distracted by all the content they view, we took a stab at consolidating some of the numbers.

On average, a typical user of digital media looks at a LOT of content:

50 app notifications per day

125-200 emails per day

500-1000 team notifications and digital conversations

150 SMS messages

350-1000 views of social media posts

150 websites

For a total (using the midpoint) of 1,800 digital "views" each (work) day.

During work hours, you're likely to have a higher ping rate; coupled with the average commute time and hours of sleep, it amounts to roughly 12 hours of high digital consumption. That means, on average, a person could be getting two and a half to five digital notifications or more per minute. Even then, this statistic may only reflect part of the truth since it doesn't contemplate the time someone spends engaging in an activity once they're alerted to something digitally. When you consider this factor, then the numbers are much larger.

In this digital age, content has become the most important element of the internet. With the growth of social media, streaming websites, and news sources, both content producers and viewers have access to more material than ever before. All of the information can be overwhelming, resulting in a decrease in participation and quality. To address this issue, creators and audiences must learn how to manage their time and content consumption. By finding a way to balance the amount of content they create or take in, they can make sure that what they are producing and consuming is of high quality and value.

What is content overload, and how do creators deal with it?

Developing content can be an enjoyable and gratifying activity, though it can also be challenging. Many content creators work long hours and commit a lot of energy in making the optimal piece of content, only to have it be ignored or disregarded. It is easy to be demotivated and think that all the effort was a waste, but it is vital to recognize that content formation is a long-term goal and not a short-term one. One of the most demanding tasks of content production is finding the time and motivation to create high-standard work consistently. It is difficult to balance other duties while allocating time and being inspired to produce something new and engaging.

Another challenge is the constant need to stay up-to-date and relevant. With so much being produced daily, it can be difficult to stand out and make an impact. This can lead to a vicious cycle of feeling like you need to produce more and more to keep up, which can be exhausting and unsustainable in the long run. It's also common for creators to feel pressure to conform to certain standards or expectations, whether it's the type of content they produce or the way they present it. This can be especially true for creators who rely on social media or other platforms to reach their audience. While it's important to be mindful of your audience and the platform you're using to reach them, it's also important to stay true to your own voice and vision.

One way to combat the viciousness of the digital creation process is to take breaks and give yourself time to recharge. It's okay to take a step back and refocus, especially if you feel burnt out or creatively blocked. It's also helpful to find ways to stay motivated and inspired, whether it's through collaborating with others, seeking out new ideas and sources of inspiration, or simply taking the time to reflect on your own goals and values. Ultimately, the key to success is persistence and resilience. It can be tough to keep going when the going gets tough, but it's important to remember that with everything you create comes an opportunity to learn and grow. With time and practice, you'll develop your own unique voice and style, and you'll be able to create work that resonates with your audience and helps you achieve your goals.

It's not just the creators who are feeling overloaded.

Have you ever caught yourself mindlessly skimming through social media or reading articles on the internet and not taking away anything meaningful? You are not the only one. With the massive amount of content available, it can be easy to slip into the habit of devouring information without giving it much thought. Why do we do this? Possibly, we are looking for validation or a sense of belonging. We see others sharing posts and feel pressured to keep up with the current trends or views. Alternatively, we may be attempting to distract ourselves from our own lives or seeking a quick rush of dopamine from the satisfaction of completing a task (in this case, reading an article or watching a video). Regardless of the cause, the problem with being in a continuous cycle of consuming content can lead to feeling overwhelmed and disconnected. We may feel like we are constantly trying to keep up with recent events or trends.

Breaking Free

To escape this cycle, we need to be more aware of how we interact with content. Instead of mindlessly browsing social media or impulsively clicking on articles, we should think about why we want to read or watch something and if it is compatible with our values and objectives. Additionally, it may be helpful to set boundaries for ourselves regarding how much time we invest in consuming content. We can put a timer in place or use an application that monitors screen time to ensure we aren't neglecting other essential chores or activities.

Another way to escape the unending content cycle is to put away the phone and laptop and devote a certain time during the day to unplug and disconnect. This will help to clear the mind and make us more attentive to what we are doing. It is not an easy task, but it's a crucial step in achieving a healthier and more satisfying life. By being aware of our content intake and finding ways to involve ourselves with material that is significant to us, we can free ourselves and live with purpose.