On Thursday October 20, knowledge workers around the world will mark the third annual Information Overload Awareness Day. The theme is “Lower the Overload.” The holiday/observance is our attempt to raise awareness of the crippling burden that Information Overload places on all of us. Thanks to the vast amount of information that we all face on a daily basis, individual knowledge workers, teams, and entire organizations suffer diminished productivity and the loss of the ability to make sound decisions, process information, and prioritize tasks.
Information Overload Awareness Day is an opportunity for knowledge workers and organizations to take stock of the impact that this serious problem is having on their productivity and work life balance, not to mention on their organizations’ bottom line.
One thing we have discovered as we have researched Information Overload is how easy it is to take steps to lessen its impact by simply raising awareness of the problem. Information Overload Awareness Day is in part a day to step back and contemplate how our individual actions contribute to the problem.
On Thursday, we will ask everyone to start by sending 10% fewer e-mail messages (this includes copying fewer people on the e-mail you do send).
Two simple statistics from my book Overload! how Too Much Information Is Hazadous To Your Organization explain why this is important:
- Reading and processing just 100 e-mail messages can occupy over half of a worker’s day.
- For every 100 people who are unnecessarily copied on an e-mail, eight hours are lost.
In addition, look at how you use and share information and you may see opportunities to make processes more efficient as well as take action to improve your own information habits, such as in the area of search.
Information Overload cost the U.S.economy $997 billion in 2010 – and that figure will increase for 2011.
Help Lower the Overload (our slogan for Information Overload Awareness Day) on Thursday and beyond. Remember, even without your knowing it, your actions impact others so do what you can. Remember, we are all in this together.