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What We Are Doing About Information Overload

It’s once again time to report on what we are learning from our Information Overload Multi-Client Study.  So far over 3,000 knowledge workers have participated in online surveys and follow-up interviews.  (For more information on this program, please click here.

The root causes of Information Overload continue to include a marked increase in content creation, an increase in technologies used to receive information, an increase in e-mail traffic, more interruptions (which lead to an increase in recovery time), and even greater ubiquitous connectivity.

This in turn causes markedly lower productivity, diminished comprehension levels, compromised concentration levels, and less innovation.  It also causes health problems: 35% of knowledge workers experience back and/or neck pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, eye strain, headaches, or stress related symptoms.

We are seeing that the work-life balance has become lopsided in many organizations and restoring this balance will be a challenge.

While some knowledge workers take reasonable steps to combat the problems, others are driven to extremes.  Here are a few comments from our interviews, where knowledge workers tell how they remain focused and work under the pressure of a deadline:

– “I break down projects into discrete tasks (and complete them) to avoid boredom.”
– “I turn off my IM and e-mail notification.  If I do check one e-mail before my designated e-mail time, I find I am completely screwed as far as focus is concerned.”
– “I take my laptop somewhere where I can hide.” and from another “I find a secluded spot… sometimes it’s my car.”
– “Truthfully, I tend to turn grumpy to the point where no one will want to speak to me until I am finished.”

Next week Basex will launch an Information Overload calculator that will allow anyone to calculate the extent of his organization’s Information Overload exposure.  Stay tuned.