In the last article, we talked about how information overload decreases productivity. Now that you know why to avoid information overload, you need to find how to avoid it. In order to help you avoid the problems, we have prepared a list of things that you can do to ensure that you aren’t overloaded with information at work or at home.
Managing information overload is all about acquiring the skills you need to handle the information, or more accurately to handle the technology that overloads you with information. If you can understand how to use the Internet, your email inbox, and all of your other tools for handling incoming information, you can ensure that the information that you actually receive is quality information in digestible quantities.
Manage Your Time
Managing your time properly is a key to avoiding information overload. If you spend hours reading all the emails you receive in a day, you will end up with a head full and ready to burst. In order to ensure that you can handle the information that you are receiving, set specific times in which to deal with incoming information. Check email for an hour every morning, and then do so once more for an hour after lunch.
Rather than spending all of your time checking your email via your laptop and your cell phone, take time to disconnect from everything. Resist the urge to click on that new email that just came in, and let it sit in your inbox for a while until you can get to it. Stay away from information for a few hours every day, and simply go about your tasks without trying to absorb anything new.
A surprising number of people suffer from information overload simply because they try to do too many things at once. Quit trying to talk on the phone while writing a letter and reading an email. Do one task at a time, and make sure that it has your full attention. Process the information that you receive, and move on to the next task.
Do Important Things First
Prioritizing is a key to avoiding being overloaded with information. Doing the important things first usually means getting the important things first. As you tackle each task, you are able to obtain the information pertinent to that task only. Once a task is completed and you have moved on, leave the information related to the first task in the past.
Avoid Unnecessary Information
There are hundreds of useless emails that you can receive every day, and these useless emails are often the cause of information overload. Don’t sign up for email newsletters you will never read, and block that guy who is sending jokes around the office. Avoiding unnecessary information will ensure that your mind can absorb more important information, thanks to the fact that it is free of clutter.
Use Alternate Methods of Communication
Don’t always use email when communicating. Try talking on the phone, talking face to face, or writing a note to someone. Not only will you improve your social and team skills, but also you are able to eliminate a good deal of electronic information that is the main cause of information overload.
Do Offline Research
Don’t always turn to the Internet when you need help. Why not ask John in accounting for help with your grammar, or turn to Linda in HR for help dealing with a difficult customer. If you need information, why not take the time to walk to the storage room to find it rather than emailing to obtain the information. It may take longer, but it will give you a break and help you to avoid information overload.
Take Regular Breaks
While breaks may not be approved in every work environment, you will find that 5 or 10 minutes to stand and stretch every couple of hours will do wonders for your mind. Not only can you give your eyes and your mind a rest from all the information it is absorbing, exercising and stretching helps to release chemicals into your body that will help to reduce stress and sharpen your focus.