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Information Overload Day 2018 Session Recap

November 12, 2018 | Posted By

Following is a Recap of the key topics and discussion points from the Information Overload Day Webinar held on October 23rd, sponsored by IORG.

On October 22, 2018, the Information Overload Research Group held its annual “Information Overload Day”

This years’ session was entitled “Cognitive Science, Addiction, and Information Overload”.

Following is a summary of key points from all the presenters sessions.

Introductions to the Sessions

Nathan Zeldes – President & Chairman, IORG and Founder – Nathan Zeldes Consulting

Nathan provided a brief “Welcome” to all the attendees and outlined the line-up of speakers and topics that would follow.


Information Overload 101

Jonathan Spira, Founding Board Member of IORG and Sr. Managing Director of Accura Media Group

Jonathan discussed Information Overload Basics, including the topics of “Knowledge Workers”, “Private Time”, “Interruptions”, and how Information Overload is not actually a new problem and has been with us for centuries, but is made more prevalent due to technology and behavior.


Neuroscience and the Problem of Information Overload

Anne McGhee Stinson – Managing Partner & Director of Practice, EffectiveEdge

Anne discussed how Information Overload impacts our brains, and how what we think, do, and pay attention to changes the physical structure of our grains due the concept of “Neuroplasticity”, the fact that our brains change over time.

She discussed how our brain is “hard-wired” to pay attention to distractions, which dates back to our hunter/gatherer roots where distractions were potential dangers or predators in our environment.

She discussed the “Zeigarnik Effect”, which states that people tend to pay attention and remember “incomplete information” and “unfinished tasks” more then “completed information and tasks”.

She conducted an online demonstration for trying to estimate the count of dots that were in organized vs disorganized patterns to show how our brains are designed for “organization” as compared to “chaos”.

She also discussed the concept of “Mind like Water” (made popular by David Allen, the productivity guru), where you attempt to have a “Clear and Calm Mind”.

She introduced the concept of the “Reticular Activating System” in our brain that helps with focus. It is designed to let us focus on only one thing at a time, and we get more of what we focus on. She also noted that commands such as “don’t think about” are ineffective. You can’t tell someone to not think about something, you can only change their focus to something else.

She concluded with suggestions to learn to Focus on Goals and learn to Manage Distractions through practice. She especially recommended using meditation to learn to focus and reduce distractions.


Bringing Big Data to Life: Adding the Behavioral Perspective

Liraz Margalit, PhD – Head of Behavioral Research, Clicktale

Liraz provided a very different view of Information Overload from the perspective of the Customer and how information can be best presented to help customers make choices. She discussed how many customers are faced with “TMI” (Too Much Information) and how websites need to focus on a more personalized and targeted shopping experience.

One of the challenges of online shopping is that past behavior does not always equate to future behavior.

The theory of online behavior is broken into three main components:

  • Context – The circumstances that resulted in why someone was shopping online
  • Personality – Their unique personality traits as a shopper
  • Mindset – Their state of mind at that specific time when they were shopping.

You need to understand the combination of these three factors in order to maximize their online shopping experience.

She also stated that there tends to be two major classes of online shoppers:

  • Goal Oriented Shoppers – These are shoppers that are actively looking to purchase very specific things. Goal Oriented Shoppers need specific recommendations to push them towards a purchase.
  • Browsers – These are shoppers that are casually looking at multiple items. Browsers need to be left alone and not interrupted, or they will get frustrated.

One of her recommendations is to try to optimize the search and navigation experience for these two different types of shoppers.

She also introduced that shoppers also tend to fall into two major purchase approaches:

  • Maximizers – These only want the “best selection” and will continually look to compare to other options to see if there is another one that is better.  They are avid “comparison shoppers” and will continually look for a “better option”.  A goal for Maximizers it to actually limit your selection and focus them on the optimal item to avoid overwhelming them with too many selectins.
  • Satisfiers – They tend to quickly select any item that they feel is “good enough” and do not go back and question their choice. A goal for Satisfiers is to give them the ability to make a very fast and easy selection and quickly make their purchase.

Addiction and Information Overload  – A Panel Discussion

Monica Seeley, PhD – Director, IORG and Founder, Mesmo Consultancy

Marc Powell – Steering Team Member, IORG, and Founder and Managing Director, Emailogic

Nathan Zeldes – President & Chairman, IORG and Founder – Nathan Zeldes Consulting

Emanuele (Lele) Terenzani – Digital Sales CEE Communication Leader at IBM (a.k.a. “Dr. Connections”)

Key comments and recommendations from the panel discussion:

  • Information Overload has a significant, negative effect on productivity, especially for “knowledge workers” who work online constantly.
  • Turn off alerts on devices and applications to try to curb your Information Overload additions.
  • Email is increasing at approximately 3% a year, and we spend more and more time dealing with low- quality and useless Email communications.
  • The more Email you send, the more Email you receive, so you need to manage your own behaviors to reduce Email volumes.
  • To help curb Information Overload, you should consider an application that helps you track your actual online usage and number of application interruptions. This helps you see the true extent of your issue and can help you track improvements over time.
  • You need to work to break the “behavioral grooves” that have formed in your brain around your Information Overload behaviors. This takes awareness, actions, and techniques.
  • Consider going “cold turkey” or taking an “Information Detox”.
  • Keep your smartphones at home and out of meetings. And turn them off and put them away when out at dinner or at social events.

Concluding Remarks – Jonathan Spira and Nathan Zeldes

Final remarks were:

  • The nature of Information Overload is an ever-evolving problem, due to a combination of work habits, new technology, and massive availability of information.
  • We have also seen new Information Overload problems develop, including addictive behavior and misinformation.
  • There has also been a massive growth in the increasing number of channels of available information.
  • It is a complex issue, but there are a number of potential solutions, but they all take focus and effort to implement.


If you were unable to attend the Information Overload Day Webinar, or weren’t able to stay through the entire event, the entire event was recorded and is now available for replay.

You can view it on the: IORG Youtube Channel

Information Overload vs Decision Overload

August 19, 2018 | Posted By

Information Overload is a common topic of discussions in the press and literature. It is also the subject of research, tools, and techniques. But there is also an important but related problem: Decision Overload.
Information Overload occurs when the information available exceeds the processing abilities of the individual or can be processed in the time available.

By contrast, Decision Overload occurs when the vast amount of available information makes it difficult to decide upon the correct course of action(s).

Mindful Tech: How to Bring Balance to Our Digital Lives

March 5, 2018 | Posted By

David M. Levy, who has lived his life between the “fast world” of high tech and the “slow world” of contemplation, offers a welcome guide to being more relaxed, attentive, and emotionally balanced, and more effective, while online.

In a series of exercises carefully designed to help readers observe and reflect on their own use, Levy has readers watch themselves closely while emailing and while multitasking, and also to experiment with unplugging for a specified period. Never prescriptive, the book opens up new avenues for self-inquiry and will allow readers—in the workplace, in the classroom, and in the privacy of their homes—to make meaningful and powerful changes.

5 Tips for Bringing More Mindfulness to Your Work

February 19, 2018 | Posted By

The root cause of stress and work-related exhaustion does not come from what is happening in our external environment, but how we respond to it from our internal landscape; more specifically – from how our mind reacts to what we are experiencing and the extent to which we are able to effectively manage our mind, or not.

How to beat email overload in 2018

February 12, 2018 | Posted By

It’s easy to spend a large portion of your working day just trying to make a dent in your email backlog, to the detriment of other, often more pressing, priorities. With the average worker spending 13 hours a week dealing with emails, businesses are potentially losing up to 28% of work time to email admin.

Here are four strategies that might help you to reduce this burden, improve productivity and streamline internal communication.

Emails are Not Dead, but Need to Evolve: How to Make Your Business Communication Productive

February 5, 2018 | Posted By

Let’s face it: there are many unsolved challenges in today’s business communication. But luckily, there are many ways and tools to keep it productive and organized as well. In this article, we’ve put together the most reliable approaches to avoid plunging into talkative chaos at work.

Overloaded 2017 – Webinar Replay now Available !

October 20, 2017 | Posted By

IORG, in celebration of Information Overload Day, recently hosted “Overloaded 2017 – An online event of Science, Stories, and Solutions for Managing Information Overload.

The entire event has been recorded for your viewing pleasure! Enjoy!

Read more…

Email management tips and tools you can’t live without

March 25, 2017 | Posted By

An infographic about email overload and its solutions. Each and every day, 193.3 billion emails are sent around the world. More than half of those are business emails. The average person spends 28 percent of the workweek reading and responding to email, which equates to 13 hours a week. So what do we do about all this email dependence? Thankfully there are tools and strategies to cut down on inbox overload and get organized.

Averting a Reply All disaster

December 14, 2016 | Posted By

Reply All disasters can be avoided by adopting sound email etiquette and making sure everyone understands them. Using the email software too and looking outside the inbox to alternative technologies/medium can help manage the potential for such disasters.

Five Tips to Reduce Information Overload on Information Overload Day

October 15, 2016 | Posted By

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

Information Overload Day 2016 takes place on October 18th, and is a good time to take action to reduce the impact of Information Overload on your work and life.  Simply follow these five rules and share them with your coworkers and you’ll find a marked change in your own personal overload situation!

  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 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.

Don’t let Information Overload strangle your organization’s productivity. 94% of those we surveyed have 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!

Happy Information Overload Day!

Tips and statistics adapted from Overload! How Too Much Information Is Hazardous To Your Organization.

By Jonathan Spira

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