The Age of Information – Or Confusion?

AMA9-7-13TMI – too much information – not only makes for awkward social moments, but when you’re immersed in the round the clock flow of constantly available information, some experts say it can also derail goals and impair decision making. For investors and anyone who relies on the many internet sources available to get information and manage money matters it can be easy to get lost among the hundreds of sites, apps and experts available online.

Unlimited round the clock access to all this information can make your investing life easier. Thanks to mobile apps and social media, forums and online marketplaces, you can close deals, talk to buyers, sellers and real estate professionals, research properties and screen tenants at the touch of a fingertip. But a few dissenters say that isn’t necessarily a good thing.

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Having access to too much information can actually reduce efficiency, say some investing experts. And they’re backed up by a body of research on decision making and focusing that suggests that information overload can paralyze critical thinking functions and throw carefully defined goals and plans into chaos. Here’s how.

People with access to unlimited information on a topic may not know when to stop searching. There’s always one more website to visit, one more expert to consult, one more forum that might have the answer. You can check the Bloomberg stock reports at 3 am if you want – and all the others as well.

Then there’s good old information overload. With so many apps claiming to be the solution to your problems, how do you decide which is right for you? With so many websites responding to your search, where to do you begin? The brain freezes when faced with the mountain of information generated by a single search.

Evaluating the information that’s available becomes another overwhelming task as well. Everyone is an expert, promising the best service, most authoritative information, and the best prices. Some users, frustrated and intimidated by too many conflicting choices, simply grab the first that comes along in order to avoid trying to figure it all out.

The solution? Take control of the information before it takes control of you, say experts on finance and investing. Create a plan for your investing life, with clear goals, and stick to it. Don’t’ let yourself get derailed by too many “gurus” claiming to have the answer

Eliminate cyber-clutter, too. Prune your apps folder and keep only the ones that help you reach your goals. Limit online searches and regular visits to a few trusted websites that, again, match your goals. If you find other interesting information, bookmark it and visit when you have free time.

Think carefully about what you read. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Don’t let yourself be intimidated into buying every investing course or book that shows up n your inbox because it promises the expert’s answers.

Constant connectivity can make your investing life easier, but it’s important to know who’s in charge. Jason Hartman’s 10 Commandments for Investors advises getting educated and staying in control of your investing life. And that means pulling the plug on the never-ending flow of information –if it threatens to derail your plans for building wealth. (Top image:Flickr/PaperCat)

Jaffe, Chuck. “Delete All Your Investing Apps Now.” Marketwatch. MSN Monee. 20 Jun 2013.

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