It's 18 October 2016, and it is the annual occurrence of Information Overload Awareness day. Hah. It's not like we forget we are overloaded every other day of the year. But it's not a bad idea to remember that while we feel overloaded, we are also the people who create the overload.
To me information overload isn't so much a fact of life as a worldview. Take a different view of the world. So what if there is a lot of things you could do, what should you do? What will actually make a difference for the project? For the team? For the organization?
But for some people this can be a killer. People aren't paid to read email, or deal with instant messages, or attend meetings all day, but if you look at a breakdown of time, that is what many people are doing. I assume people are hired to do good work and be effective members of their teams and organizations. What is needed? Focus there. The rest of it will happen.
I believe this day is promoted by the Information Overload Research Group (and on LinkedIn) that I've been following for many years. They even have a handy post for the day that suggests some things you can do in your own group to help matters (around email) - framed as a set of actions. These are some familiar themes, but always good to remember. Five Tips to Reduce Information Overload
- 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.