James Dellow has pointed me to some interesting thoughts on the Next Generation solutions to the Information Overload problem.
I have been meaning to blog about this for ages, as I'm a fan of Nathan Zeldes's original e-mail program to tackle information overload at Intel, here are some new ideas on dealing with information overload:
- Infomania: why we can't ignore it any longer - a new paper by Nathan Zeldes, David Sward and Dr. Sigal Louchheim that represents their call to action on information overload and its impact on decision making, business processes and quality of life; and
- And putting this call to action into practice, Zeldes announces their Quiet Time pilot at Intel.
These are both amazing references. The first article was published on First Monday with the goal of describing in more detailed terms the problem and impact of e-mail (information) overload in business:
The combination of e–mail overload and interruptions is widely recognized as a major disrupter of knowledge worker productivity and quality of life, yet few organizations take serious action against it. This paper makes the case that this action should be a high priority, by analyzing the severe impact of the problem in both qualitative and quantitative terms. We attempt to provide sufficient supporting data from the scientific literature and from corporate surveys to enable change agents to make the case and convince their organizations to authorize such action.
And who wouldn't enjoy a little dedicated "quiet time" to work on projects that really require several hours of uninterrupted time. Here's how the pilot is laid out:
The pilot group – 300 engineers and managers, located in two US sites – will adopt a “Quiet Time” agreement. Every Tuesday morning they will all set their email and IM clients to “offline”, forward their phones to voice mail, decline all meetings, and isolate themselves from “visitors” by putting up a “Do not disturb” sign at their doorway. Thus, for half a day each week they will have the ability to focus on the “thinking work” that researchers have shown is critical to creativity, innovation, and to faster, better production of output (see our white paper for the data).
This reminds me of the various multitasking posts I've written over the years. The next step is to apply this quiet time idea in a project environment - particularly Critical Chain Project Management. The person who has the most critical task for the project gets a special dispensation to work uninterrupted until they have completed their task.