Reducing & Preventing Overload by Capturing Thoughts

In Solving the Problem of Information Overload, we realized that the goal for reducing overload involves balance, which comes through deliberately capturing and filtering thoughts and by setting information boundaries.

When we receive information, regardless of its source and avenue, we react to it through our thought lives. The more aware we are of this process, the better able we are to deliberately make choices regarding our focus.

A large part of capturing thoughts involves creating a strong core of truth within us out of which our thoughts can then operate.

Capturing Thoughts

sf_spiritOfTruth_05Taking thoughts – the products of our God-given ability to reason, reflect and respond – captive means avoiding decisions based solely on our finite processing. This requires holding to a central truth to help govern those thoughts.

Truth should shape us, not the information we take in. The information we receive and digest, whether overloading us or not, should not sculpt thoughts. If it is, we’ve got it backwards. Instead, let truth determine the shape & direction of thoughts. Information then becomes a tool for spreading truth.

Spending time in Scripture allows truth to become part of our thinking and to fuel our filtering system. This practice must exist at our core instead of as a problem-solving method only, and this only happens by spending time regularly dwelling with Him and allowing His Holy Spirit to guide our thinking (1 Corinthians 2:10-16).

Reducing Overload

An overloaded mind produces a divided focus, and a divided focus fails to live fully by truth. So, in addition to establishing a habit of building core strength on truth, capturing thoughts involves limiting and managing the information we take in to allow for a more singular focus.

To reduce overload in a way that allows truth to direct and guide, first limit incoming information and then make sure what you do allow to dwell supplements your thinking instead of draining it.

This process requires taking the time to think about what you’re thinking by asking the following questions regularly:

  1. sf_beautifulMind_04What am I allowing to shape my thoughts? Psalm 1:1-2 says to avoid bad influences and focus on good. We’ll cover more of how to manage this in the next post.
  2. What am I allowing to dwell in my mind? If you think you can’t help what you think about, you’re wrong. Scripture tells us we can choose where to fix our thoughts (See Romans 8:5, Philippians 4:8 & Hebrews 3:1)
  3. What is the source of my thoughts? Do they come from the thinking of others? Or, do they flow out of the truth of Christ established in you? (See Colossians 2:8)

Overload blocks deliberate thinking and even an awareness of the thinking process itself. At some point, you just have to say “Enough!” and give yourself time and space to stop the inflow of information, consider what’s going through your head (writing thoughts down or talking them out can help), and pit them against God’s truth.

If you fail to capture your thoughts by thinking about what you’re thinking, you’ll be the one in the cage while your thoughts wreak havoc as you watch through the bars of overload. Choose to use information as a supplement and an avenue to spread truth instead of letting it overload you.

DISCUSSION: What experience do you have with reducing information overload? What role did God’s word play in that process?

17 thoughts on “Reducing & Preventing Overload by Capturing Thoughts

  1. I agree this is a timely message. My inbox grows exponentially and it takes more and more time just to filter out unneeded messages. My must reads and hope to reads still fill me with info overload. What I do is establish a set amount of time to work through my inbox. I prioritize the items and then read and respond as time permits. You know too much is too much when you have to steal time from other portions of your day to just weed through all the information we opt to receive. For me that is my creative time, and I want to protect and prioritize that time as more valuable than reading and responding to the creations of others. We must find that balance of input and output….
    My recent post Reject Your Self to Reflect Your Savior

    • You describe what I think is a pretty common problem, Mike. I know my husband constantly struggles with this. My first step is to look at what I can eliminate. In other words, what can go at least for now. Doesn't mean it's not good or worthwhile, but it's not as high of a priority based on what you have time for. On Thursday, May 22, 2014, Kari Scare <[email protected]> wrote: approve

    • Me too. I figure I can always find the information again if I need it.On Thursday, May 22, 2014, Kari Scare <[email protected]> wrote:approve

  2. I agree Kari with what you are saying about spending time in God's word to have truth in your mind to set things against to evaluate them properly. I am thinking of a different way of having to deal with information. Some information we have to deal with really has no ethical questions I think such as information people post on Facebook, Twitter and so on. Information I expose myself to like sports stories, and news events. A lot of that don't call into question ethics. What is called in question is should I be spending time on all of this? I think we all spend some time on these things and enjoy them but we have to ask how much of this information do I need or how much time do I need to be spending on these in light of where else I could be putting my efforts. We should ask "does it add value to our lives". If not then we should place some limits on it.

    • The question, then, becomes how we use Biblical principles to help determine our use of time with regard to the information we take in. As we spend time in His Word, we become increasingly aware of how he wants us to spend our time. So, in that, His truth also guides us in this area too, right? For me, it mostly boils down to choosing relationships whenever possible over other ways to spend time. Thoughts?

  3. Hi Kari, sorry to be late in getting to this. As I have told you I am still having feed problems and so my brother in law is forwarding your blogs to me. This week I am on OVERLOAD as my email has not been checked on a regular basis so I feel swamped. Usually I stay on top of it on a daily basis, sorting and choosing what to read.

    I have long believed what Paul wrote in Philippians 4, that we must chose what we will focus on. If I allow myself to think on the negative and do not take those thoughts captive I can quickly get pulled down. I am getting much better at catching myself when these thoughts start and going to the Truth with them. I really believe your blogs have helped me understand this process and apply it. Thanks!

    • Two great points in here, Mary. Staying consistent with habits and choosing our focus. We can't always control situations, but we can decide where our thoughts focus. Thanks, friend!

  4. Kari, This is such an important post. Our family went through a life-altering crisis 10 years ago. It was a pain that consumed my thoughts day-in and day-out. The thing that began the healing process was devouring God's Word. It started a passion in me for the Word that I still have today. I have to know His truth to be able to take thoughts captive.
    My recent post 10 Ways to Bless Your Friendships & Link-up

    • I knew you would connect with this, Barb. You're so right, one of the most effective habits for sure.On Saturday, May 24, 2014, Kari Scare <[email protected]> wrote: approve

  5. Our thoughts and self-talk show through in our actions and attitude, we have to be careful about our inner life because it will greatly impact our outer life. I make sure to have a inflow of good content (Bible and personal growth content) on a daily basis so my inner life remains pure and holy before God. Great post!

    • First, let me say that it's great to have you back again, Loren. While it is somewhat unusual, I don't follow news, politics or current events either. Well, not outside of reading our local newspaper anyway. Sports are on mostly because of my 13-year-old, though I do enjoy watching NFL football for some reason. But you're right, they are obvious sources of too much for many people. Great examples, actually!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *