The internet is only 23 years old and already, every 60 seconds, 1,500 blog entries are created, 160 million emails are sent, 3.1 million Google searches are completed, 600 videos are uploaded on youtube, and the list goes on. More accurate information here.
But even before personal computers, the Internet, smart phones and tablets, people were overloaded by information. The first recorded use of the phrase “information overload” was used by the futurologist Alvin Toffler in 1970, when he predicted that the rapidly increasing amounts of information being produced would eventually cause people problems. The birth of the internet had just made it more dreadful.
Information Overload is an increasing problem in everyone’s professional and personal life and those who learn to handle it effectively will have a major advantage in the years to come. So what can we do to deal with the information tide ?
Put information aside as per importance and urgency until you get a time to catch up. An example is processing email early in the morning, before the business or workday begins, or reading important reports late at night. “When you check your emails, develop a category system that prioritizes them based on urgency and relevance.
Make a task list. If you’re interrupted, you’ll get back to work faster if you have one.
Do not multi-task. With the exception of automatic behaviors like walking or tapping your fingers on your computer table, what we call multitasking is really task-switching. Moving back and forth between tasks slows down productivity because your attention is actually spent on the act of switching from one task to another—you never get maximum results for either activity.
Separate your work-related emails from social media subscriptions by setting up separate emails – this is one of the best things you can do to take control of your time and privacy.
Establish your sources and stick to them. Identify and organize where your data must come from like emails, project management, notes, files, articles, websites and other reading materials
Escape regularly by completely disconnecting yourself from the internet and all your electronic gadgets and meditate so you come back to work more focused
Improve your focus by establishing your peak productivity time where you can schedule your most critical tasks. Learn to tell others when you need to recharge.
Avoid exessive news. Most news mislead, are irrelevant and have no explanatory power. News items are bubbles popping on the surface of a deeper world therefore collecting these bubbles would not help you understand the world.
Know what you need to know. What information consumes is your attention so your job is to allocate that attention to the sources that consumes it before you burnout. Not knowing something does not always equate to ignorance. Knowing what to know is often wisdom.
Separate work and private life. Maintaining a work/life balance has become increasingly difficult because of modern technological advances but establishing boundaries for your most important needs is also possible.
Eat that frog. Instead of checking updates and emails that don’t have any serious purpose or value, make a determined effort to accomplish an important task that’s hanging around first thing in the morning.
Manage your attention and use your energy wisely. Our most valuable resource is no longer time. It’s attention and energy. Make tough decisions so you can focus your attention and energy on what matters.
Tickler file: Data labeled file folders that are organized as an up-dated electronic to-do list. It is good to keep your memory sharp in this day of data overkill. This will help you accelerate your workplace flow and keep you from suffering information overload. Think of it as a memory tickler. Check out Merlin Mann’s website www.43folders.com
GTD Method: Thanks to Dave Allen’s book, Getting Things Done, you have just about the most complete guide to making time work quickly and easily. His themes are to capture, clarify, organize, reflect, and engage. First you record what you have to do and break down to actionable work items. His whole system is clear and concise and his book has been a winner for years and years.
If you are feeling overloaded, work on these. The future is only going to get worse.