Cut Your Information Overload Down
Today is Information Overload Day, and it wasn’t until I checked out this eye-opening CNN article that I realized how inundated with digital information we truly are. The most shocking fact to me was that computer workers on average receive 93 emails a day. Now, let’s take this one step further. As of 2013, 39% of Americans are classified as white-collar workers. 322 million people are currently inhabiting the United States, meaning that about 125,580,000 people in this country are receiving 93 email messages daily. Don’t forget that email isn’t the only way we receive information. There is social media, Internet, television, newspapers, apps, magazines, word-of-mouth, radio, and so many more options. With that in mind, it’s apparent that we are inundated with information nowadays.
I can see you there, sitting in disbelief, your jaw practically hitting the floor. In your mind, you ask yourself, how can I monitor the amount of information my poor little brain is absorbing?! Fret not, friend, for I have some words of wisdom for you.
When it comes to emails, make it a goal to only check your work email five times a day. It’s crazy how much time is absorbed throughout your day when you check an email the second it pops up. If something requires attention within the next three hours, give that person a call instead of emailing him or her. This will allow you to stick to the schedule and receive a timely answer.
Create a strategy for your email check-ins. Answer urgent messages first, followed by important (maybe not necessarily urgent) messages, messages of normal priority, and finally, low-level emails. Another important yet sometimes difficult aspect is to leave your work emails for work. If you have mobile accessibility for work, this can be especially challenging. However, by only answering work emails while you are working, you are improving your productivity at home and at work. This method gives you additional items to address during work hours while allowing you time at home to accomplish what needs to be done. For those that struggle with a work-life balance, this is a great way to begin addressing that.
Another big time sucker is social media. The average Internet user has 5.54 social media accounts and actively uses 2.8 of them. For some, these social media accounts are used for work-purposes as well, such as social media managers and marketing professionals. These accounts can be very useful to these positions in growing awareness, boosting interactivity with customers, and expanding the business. With some of these accounts, such as Facebook company pages, needing to be linked to a person’s account, it can also be extremely easy to get sidetracked. One minute, you’re analyzing your page insights, and the next, you’re pages deep in your newsfeed looking at your brother’s middle school best friend’s vacation pictures.
To get around this, you should first take a look at your accounts and weed out the sites you don’t use. Are you still making Vines? Do you continue to store images on Flickr? If not, for your own security, it might be a good idea to rid yourself of these accounts. There’s no need to continue to have any of these accounts out there projecting your information if you do not use it.
After you’ve narrowed it down to the accounts you actively use, set a schedule for your breaks at work and only check these accounts on those breaks. This makes you more productive at work, and also limits what you can and cannot take in. Let’s say you set your breaks to be fifteen minutes. Even if you spend all fifteen minutes on social media, you’re greatly limiting your information intake. This can also motivate you to limit your time on these sites. Would you rather spend fifteen minutes staring at Facebook or refill your coffee, check the news, and return a phone call?
For the tech savvy, apps can be a huge helper. Productivity apps can be a lifesaver if you utilize multiple social media accounts. These apps can put all your information in one location, making it way easier to sift through. They can also provide you with filters or lists, so you can track certain accounts or hashtags to stay in the loop and get in on hot topics. These accounts can also allow you to link your accounts together, making synchronized and identical posts a breeze. Productivity apps like Tweetdeck, Buffer, and Hootsuite can let you schedule posts, rearrange post orders, and so much more, which will make your social media usage focused and simple. You can concentrate on the task at hand, see only the information necessary to your position, and limit the amount of distractions you encounter.
If you’re still getting information overload, it’s probably from your phone. A text, a call, a notification, it doesn’t matter. On average, we look at our phones 150 times each day, which evens out to about 9 times each hour we are awake. Odds are, you will be collecting some information each time you slide open your lock screen. The best way to help this is to set limits on your phone. Turn it off during work, or set it to a do not disturb setting. Choosing to put your phone on silent can be distracting since many phones notify you more than once and vibrations against hard surfaces can cause a great deal of noise.
With that, you are better equipped to take on the excess of information thrown at you on a daily basis.