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Top tips for dealing with information overload

Top tips for dealing with information overload

Twitter, Linkedin updates, workplace emails, personal emails, Facebook messages, text messages, instant messages, cell phone messages, land line messages and don’t forget the interoffice and snail mail. Is your head spinning with all the information coming in yet? In 1997 according to an article in Workforce, it was estimated that fortune 1000 employees was sending and receiving 178 messages and documents per day. Since 1997, and the implementation of Social Networking, 178 messages per day seems mild compared to what people are receiving today. The Wall Street Journal reported that today “Information workers, who comprise about 63% of the U.S. work force, are each bombarded with 1.6 gigabytes of information on average every day.” According to Basex, a research and consulting firm, “U.S. companies lose an estimated $900 billion a year in lost productivity because of information overload.” If true, then the issue is growing in the workplace.

Here are some tips to deal with information overload:

Organize your time - Decide on how many hours you want to spend on sorting through information during the day. Outside of that timeline, turn it off so that you can concentrate on needed projects with minimal interruptions.

Use filters – Set up folders that will sort emails by meaning, idea, or focus. Most email providers have mechanisms that allow you to set up folders allowing better organization of incoming messages.

Limit sending – As the saying goes “what goes around comes around.” The same is true for messages you send out. What you send out will most likely come back and may result in multiple return messages. According to MarketWatch, it is okay “to tell employees that their productivity is not measured by how many emails they send.”

Action – Turning off the sound on the computer or turning off the alert is very helpful. By doing so, it reduces the chance of getting distracted while meeting with people or working on projects.

Sending smart emails – if you are overloaded with messages coming in, your peers and boss may be too. Send smart emails in the workplace that are concise in nature. If you wish for an action say so in one sentence on the top of your message or in the subject line. If your message is not urgent, say so in the subject line. Limit the “reply all” option in sending back email messages.

Statistics seem to indicate that this is certainly a matter to contend with in the workplace. Staying on top of this growing trend could certainly help ensure a productive workplace.

What ideas do you have about staying on top of the heap?

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Tresha D. Moreland, MBA, MS, FACHE, SPHR, SSBBP, founder of HR C-Suite, is an HR thought leader in Human Resource Strategic Management. She has held key human resource leadership roles for over 20 years in multiple industries most recently a senior vice president in the healthcare industry. Tresha is the founder and publisher of HR C-Suite ( HR C-Suite is a game changer results-based HR strategy website. It is a first-of-it's-kind site that organizes HR strategy based on desired business result. She has developed a business philosophy of integrating human resources with business strategy, thus creating a hybrid HR leadership approach. This approach enables the leveraging human resources to achieve business results.

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