I want to learn all I can, live as wisely as I can, and savor every moment on the journey.
Earlier this year I was feeling overwhelmed by all I want to read—not only my book-length list of books I want to read but also my constantly increasing coffers of articles, e-newsletters, blog posts, and other media I subscribed to because I really do want to read them. It was input overwhelm!
Then life brought me a few different solutions to the problem.
(Spoiler: all the solutions came from greater self-awareness and willingness to be myself!)
1.) I realized that I needed more “output” (writing) as well as processing/reflection time to make me feel balanced inside. So, carving out more quiet time to journal and think, and making writing (output) a higher priority than reading (input), helped me feel less overwhelmed.
2.) I came to just accept that I can’t read everything I want to read. Shifting my focus to what I can read, not all I want to read, made the task more manageable. In fact, this adjusted mindset led right to this thought: “I bet I’ll even be surprised at how much I really can read!”—and so far that has been true.
3.) As I dug into my to-read piles, I remembered what I’d lost sight of before—that not all that’s out there is worth my reading attention. Only what interests and moves me is worth my “book lust,” and even within that limit, different materials warrant different types of reading. Being a choosy reader is a good thing, and it cuts down on input overwhelm!
4.) Finally, it helped tremendously to free myself to read in ways that work for me. I realized that no matter what everyone else is doing, it just doesn’t work for me to try to read things online. I hate screens; they give me headaches and make me feel stressed. But on the other hand, I adore magazines (printed)—so I gave myself a birthday present of getting year-long subscriptions to five magazines.* (This was only thinkable because I’d accepted that I can’t read everything; plus, with magazines, if I can’t read every article, I can at least flip through and easily get the gist.) In this way and other similar ways—using the radio for my news, enriching my relationship with print books, etc.—I freed myself to read in the ways that work best for me.
I’m happy to say that I don’t have input overwhelm anymore. Instead, I’m excited and intellectually energized by all I’m getting to read!
*Reader’s Digest, Time, Harper’s, Yes!, and Psychology Today