How to Stop Internet Choice Paralysis

Photo by Wadi Lissa on Unsplash

Consider this. There once was a boy who discovered the internet. He found all sorts of fanciful things, like articles about Abraham Lincoln and cats playing pianos. As he grew he brought his curiosity with him. He used the internet daily looking for new interesting things. However, because of this curiosity for everything he was never focused enough to make a decision on what really mattered to him.

Sounds familiar? Well, this is a common spectacle for many of us. Including me. We browse the internet looking for new, cool things, but we never focus on one topic or subject long enough to bring a deeper understanding. Sometimes, we get distracted by silly things, like cats playing pianos.

The internet is a vast and useful resource that naturally brings many opportunities for people. However, the problem with the internet is that it provides too many choices. So many in fact, that we sit not knowing what we want to do because of our overwhelming amount of choice.

Today you’ll learn how to hack internet choice paralysis and internet distraction so you can start building your success story:

What is Internet Choice Paralysis and How Can We Avoid It?

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Choice paralysis is a symptom of having too many choices. If you have boundless choices you may feel so overwhelmed that you opt to make a split-second bad decision or no decision at all.

Choice paralysis is brought to a new level once the internet gets involved. Internet choice paralysis is worse.

For example, when I browse the internet I may find myself in a spiral of consumption. I keep consuming video after video, article after article. Where does this take me? Nowhere. I’ve made no progress towards my goals.

Internet choice paralysis isn’t really paralysis in the traditional sense. Internet paralysis is a form of cognitive disablement. You are paralyzed, by your occupation with other seemingly important things. However, those videos you watch or those articles you read don’t actually help you.

How do we identify and stop ourselves from being paralyzed by over-information? Vanessa Van Edwards, the founder of Science of People, defines choice paralysis and gives a clear solution to it in this article.

Essentially, as Vanessa outline in her article, you need to limit your choices. This applies to internet choice paralysis as well.

How do we limit our choices on the internet?

Limiting Your Choices

Here’s a strategy I developed to limit my choices and to reduce distraction on the internet:

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  • Have goals in mind when searching for information
  • Only stick to the information that provides a direct benefit to achieving my goals
  • List links to that information on a separate document so you can stay self-contained within that sphere of information

I use this strategy to focus my efforts on creating blog posts like this.

The most helpful part of this strategy is linking all of your information somewhere separately. This keeps you from being distracted by search results or ads you may find if you kept searching for more information.

Another strategy you can take is reading a book.

The internet has a lot of content that could be part of a book already. Using this knowledge it’s much better to consolidate your consumption efforts towards something more concrete like a book. You can focus your attention on a subject with greater ease while reading a book rather than viewing a short article or video on the internet.

Books are designed with the analysis of one subject at a time, the internet is designed to cover a variety of subjects. Use a book to limit your choices, therefore preventing internet choice paralysis.

What Does This Have to do With Success?

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Many successful people are lifelong self-educators.

You inhibit your ability to learn when you over-diversify your information consuming habits. This in turn means that you won’t be able to specialize in a certain subject because you haven’t focused long enough on it.

When you specialize in a subject you have more experience and are more likely to land more complex higher-paying job positions.

Apart from the monetary success that you may gain from focusing your efforts on understanding subjects more deeply. You can also use your ability to negate internet paralysis to become successful on the internet.

For instance, YouTubers create videos. YouTubers who put out content regularly don’t necessarily have the time to watch YouTube videos. They need to focus their consumption efforts on topics that could aid them when creating videos. If you want to produce content and not consume it, mastering your internet browsing habits is a must-have skill.

Using the internet as a resource to further your goals is difficult. But it's worth it.




I skipped college, now I write for fun and not for grades.

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I skipped college, now I write for fun and not for grades.

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