Some New Year’s Resolutions for the Information Overload-Minded

To lowering Information Overload!

The past year has been marked by increases in the cost of Information Overload, which for the U.S. economy now stands at $997 billion, as well as hopeful signs that awareness of the problem is rising as well.  The second annual Information Overload Awareness Day was a smashing success, and drew several hundred attendees from across the globe.  CNN ran a feature entitled Happy Information Overload Day and the Belgian government, taking note of the problem, tried for a day without e-mail.

With the New Year already underway, we can start with a few simple New Year’s Resolutions that are time tested in lowering the amount of Information Overload we all face.

1.)    Learn better search techniques.  Control search results with Boolean logic by using AND or OR and use advanced options to narrow the field.

2.)    Use restraint in communications.  Don’t cc the world, don’t include more people than necessary in any communication, avoid gratuitous “thanks” and “great” replies, and avoid reply-to-all at all costs.

3.)    Write clearly.  Better yet, refrain from combining multiple themes and requests in one single e-mail.  And make sure the subject is specific as opposed to general (writing “Help needed” without further details helps no one, especially the recipient).  These simple steps will add instant clarity with little effort.

4.)    Read what you write – before you click send.  Unclear communications result in excessive and unnecessary back-and-forth communications that would have been unnecessary were the first missive unambiguous and to-the-point.

5.)    Read what others write – before replying.  While it would be nice to believe that people will place the most important information at the very beginning, often times the key facts are buried in the closing paragraphs.  What you are about to ask may already have been covered.

6.)    Value your colleagues’ time as if it were your own.  If a response to an e-mail is not immediately forthcoming, don’t pick up the phone or send an IM saying “did you get my e-mail?”.

Happy New Year!  Prosit Neujahr!

Jonathan B. Spira is CEO and Chief Analyst at Basex.

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