Managing Information Overload: 10 Tips for Survival in an Information Age

Information is the new currency of our society yet workers are drowning in information.  A typical worker gets 200 e-mails, dozens of instant messages, multiple phone calls (office phone and mobile phone), and several text messages, not to mention the vast amount of content that he has to contend with.

Information overload has become a significant problem for companies of all sizes, with some large organizations losing billions of dollars each year in lower productivity and hampered innovation.

It’s not just a case of too much e-mail, too many interruptions, too many projects, and too much content. It’s all these things clashing — sometimes like an orchestra without a conductor.

Basex has been developing strategies for coping with information overload and has prepared ten tips designed to ease the burden. These tips are included in a new report, Information Overload: We Have Met the Enemy and He Is Us.

Information Overload is not unlike the game of Tetris, where the goal is to keep the blocks from piling up.  You barely align one and another is ready to take its place.

TEN STEPS TO HELP MANAGE INFORMATION OVERLOAD

E-MAIL
1.)  I will not e-mail someone and then two seconds later follow up with an IM or phone call.

2.)  I will refrain from combining multiple themes and requests in a single e-mail.

3.)  I will make sure that the subject of my e-mail clearly reflects both the topic and urgency of the missive.

4.)  I will read my own e-mails before sending them to make sure they are comprehensible to others.

5.)  I will not overburden colleagues with unnecessary e-mail, especially one word replies such as “Thanks!” or “Great!” and will use “reply to all” only when absolutely necessary.

INSTANT MESSAGING AND PRESENCE AWARENESS

6.)  I will not get impatient when there’s no immediate response to my message.

7.)  I will keep my presence awareness state up-to-date and visible to others so they know whether I’m busy or away.

ALL FORMS OF COMMUNICATION

8.)  I will recognize that the intended recipient of my communications is not a mind-reader and will supply details in my messages accordingly.

9.)  I will recognize that typed words can be misleading in terms of both tone and intent.

10.) I will do whatever I can do to facilitate the transfer and sharing of knowledge.

Jonathan B. Spira is CEO and Chief Analyst at Basex.  David M. Goldes is President and Senior Analyst at Basex.

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