October 18, 2010

Handling Information Overload

Information overload has apparently risen from a water-cooler complaint to a full-blown productivity crisis.

At least, that’s what the creators of Information Overload Awareness Day (October 20) want you to believe.

And who’s to say they’re wrong? According to the press release I received, the following statistics build the case:

58% of U.S. government and education workers spend almost half their workday filing, deleting, or sorting paper or digital information.

72% of Americans check emails in bed, on sick days and during vacations.

The U.S. economy loses 900 billion dollars annually due to lowered productivity caused by information overload.

It’s funny. On the one hand, I want to mock the group for adding to MY overload by sending the release. But in truth, I know that I am already swimming in information I didn’t request and which shouts alarmingly for attention every day. When people I don’t know answer questions before I’ve had a chance to ask them, my deep-thinking process gets short-circuited in favor of sorting the new information. It’s like forgoing REM sleep in favor of making the bed. It’s part of the total go-to-sleep process, but not the part I need the most.

Anyway – the press agents would like me to promote their book and concept: The Inbox Detox, by Marsha Egan. You can get more info at InboxDetox.

There. Done. Now, because I’ve got a pile of email-improvement books, I’m going to skip actually reading any more of them. Without doubt, you’ll get good ideas from any of them, including the one noted above.

The book that’s got my attention these days tackles the problem of overload in a different way. It’s “Get-It-Done Guy’s 9 Steps to Work Less and Do More,” by Steven Robbins.

In lieu of process-oriented steps for diminishing emails, Robbins tackles the big, big picture of overload by asking: What are your life goals and your lifestyle goals?

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