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!
- I will not e-mail someone and then two seconds later follow up with an IM or phone call.
- I will refrain from combining multiple themes and requests in a single e-mail.
- I will make sure the subject of my e-mail clearly reflects both the topic and urgency of the missive.
- I will read my own e-mails before sending them to make sure they are comprehensible to others.
- 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
When organisations think about “overload”, the context of “information overload” is the first thing that usually gets most attention. Managing flood of emails is the most prominent example, and many interesting solutions have been proposed to deal with it. Interesting, but can any single solution be considered a definitive one? And, can we limit the problem of “overload” only to the digital domain? I will argue that the issue is much wider, and thus we can talk about “overflow”, covering both digital and traditional – analog domains. We say “information overload”, but when we get to practical examples, we suddenly switch to discussing “flood of information”, “flood of email messages” etc. That’s why OVERFLOW is considered by some a better keyword than OVERLOAD.
“Overflow (also referred to as surplus, excess or overspill) is seen as the explicit opposite of scarcity. It is a concept used in economic theory, management, consumer studies and politics, though these disciplines have different interpretations of what really constitutes overflow”
eLife 2015;4:e10825. [Link]
Overflow is surplus, and Poland (where I’m based) is a unique location to discuss it. The country underwent a profound change, from the socialist economy of excessive demand and rather limited supply, to a typical for western countries economy of excessive supply and severe competition for customers’ attention.
For any person, a wide zone of acceptance for available choices was a highly adaptive trait in the old economy, but nowadays can be a source of frustration, with an abundance of choices around us – choices of all kinds: shopping, educational, social. What should I choose, if I like all available options? On the other hand, those who have a very narrow range of acceptance for available choices had suffered in the socialist economy, but are likely to be thriving now – being “picky” protects them from the abundance of available choices.
That’s why the problem of “overflow” is not a simple, linear issue of environmental abundance, of a flood of digital, easily multiplicable information, but instead needs to be analysed on a finer level, taking into account interaction of external, environmental conditions and personal traits. This area of research, pursued for many years by one of the keynote presenters, prof. Grażyna Wieczorkowska-Wierzbińska, will be highlighted at the “Managing Overflow” conference, organized in September this year by our team from the Department of Managerial Psychology and Sociology at the University of Warsaw (http://overflowconference.pl). The event will gather in Poland a group of top scientists researching the topic of overflow: prof. Barbara Czarniawska, prof. Orvar Lofgren, Sabina Siebert, prof. Wieczorkowska-Wierzbińska, and others.
Grzegorz Krol, PhD
Department of Managerial Psychology and Sociology
Faculty of Management
University of Warsaw
What a great Information Overload Awareness Day we had this year, thanks to our two speakers, Yoram Kalman and Francis Wade, and special presentation from board member Jonathan Spira. The insights and discussions during our webinar were certainly food for thought.
Our speakers have graciously accepted to make their slides available as well.
A new repository of articles and research related to Information Overload is now available at Information Overload Resource Center. The web site was created by the Information Overload Research Group—a nonprofit organization founded in 2008 to facilitate and share solutions to the growing information glut.
You are welcome to add pointers to IO related resources. Go to the above URL, register and submit your share to this communal work in progress! (more…)
In “Going Under: Information overload is drowning office workers,” author Chris Erikson paints an accurate picture of the typical information worker who’s being “interrupted and over-informed to death.”
Quoted within the article, IORG VP of Research Jonathan Spira noted, “If I had to paraphrase in one sentence what we hear in worker surveys, it’d be, ‘I’m drowning in a sea of information.’” IORG President Nathan Zeldes weighed in with the underwater metaphor, too, saying “The tidal wave of data is drowning us.” (more…)
I’ve been engaged in the battle on Information Overload since 1995, when it exploded across Intel – where I was Computing Productivity manager at the time – with the now familiar devastation to people’s effectiveness and quality of life. In the 15 years since then I’ve driven a variety of solution efforts at various companies; I’ve communicated with scores of like minded professionals fighting IO around the world, exchanging and developing new solutions; and I’ve had the pleasure of co-founding the Information Overload Research Group with some of them. With all this activity, and the introspection a new year calls for, the question comes to mind: are we winning or losing? (more…)
From Ian Price:
The issue of information overload is getting increasing media coverage in the UK although it is still some way behind the US.
Next week, V3.co.uk (formerly vnu.net), part of Incisive Media, is taking the lead by hosting a three-day summit. It is opening the event with a live web TV panel discussion on Tuesday November 10th at 11am. I will be on the panel along with representatives from other companies including IBM, The National Computing Centre and Freeform Dynamics.
If you would like to find out more about the event or register, please follow the link below:
Our friends at Basex have been talking to people about Info Overload for a long time, but for some months now they had the excellent idea of capturing what senior managers had to say about it on video. The outcome is a video that interviews execs in companies including IBM, NBC, RIM, and Siemens, who share their insights about the impact of IO.
Best of all, the folks at Basex shared it – “Information Overload – The Movie” is available to us all on YouTube and on the Basex blog.
Via the Basex blog.
I was looking at the interesting web site of Canadian SciFi author Robert J. Sawyer and found an article in which he discusses Multitasking, and views it quite positively. In fact he says “The complaints about multitasking are the last gasps of the couch-potato generation” – the new, “wired” generation will practice multitasking to great advantage. (more…)
A friend pointed out an interesting patent application from IBM. The proposed system allows one to send people a calendar meeting invite that specifies no distractions are allowed during the meeting (an “exclusive attendance event”); after the attendee accepts, their computer will automatically suspend non-event related activities while the meeting is in progress. There are some additional refinements, but basically this is a computerized implementation of the seldom heard “everyone, close your Notebooks” at the start of a meeting. (more…)