Today is Information Overload Day: Here’s How to Regain Control

By Jonathan Spira on 15 October 2019
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This story was originally published on Information Overload Day in 2018. It is being reprinted with updates in commemoration of Information Overload Day 2019.

Do a search on the term “Information Overload” and what follows will be nothing less than Information Overload, over 3.5 million search results that provide conflicting definitions and descriptions and a fire hose of information.

Come to think of it, this aptly defines the issue.

The problem of Information Overload is a relatively new one. The amount of information available to us has so dramatically increased over the past quarter century that we can no longer pretend to absorb it, let alone find information when we need it.

When I was the chief analyst at a think tank in a prior life, I spent over a decade helping companies and knowledge workers address the problem.

In 2009, I somehow managed to create a holiday to call attention to the issue – Information Overload Day, I called it – which highlights an issue that costs the U.S. economy close to a billion dollars a year.

Information Overload causes people to lose their ability to manage thoughts and ideas, contemplate, and even reason and think. It has resulted in workdays that never seem to end, completely destroying what is left of work/life balance.

Today, October 15, is Information Overload Day and a good time to look at some strategies that will lower the overload for both yourself and your colleagues.

Here are five tips that are easy to implement and should have a big impact on an equally big problem.

1.) Don’t e-mail someone and then two seconds later follow up with an IM or phone call.
2.) Refrain from combining multiple themes and requests in a single e-mail.
3.) Make sure the subject of your e-mail clearly reflects both the topic and urgency of the missive.
4.) Read your own e-mail messages before sending them to ensure they are comprehensible to others.
5.) Don’t overburden colleagues with unnecessary e-mail, especially one word replies such as “Thanks!” or “Great!”, and use “reply to all” only when absolutely necessary.

Don’t let Information Overload strangle your productivity or that of your organization. When I was still at the research firm, 94% of those we surveyed had at some point felt overwhelmed by information to the point of incapacitation. Just remember, for every 100 people who are unnecessarily copied on an e-mail, eight hours are lost!

To learn more about what can be done about the problem of Information Overload, read “Overload! How Too Much Information Is Hazardous To Your Organization.”

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

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