5 productivity tips for dealing with information overload

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We exist in a time where the amount of information being generated exceeds our given capacity to consume and process it. In today’s knowledge-economy workplace collaboration is on the rise, with a trend to more project-based collaboration. In fact, people are in two times as many teams as many years ago. This means that we have a lot of information coming at us, at the same time in a non-linear fashion from multiple sources including emails, chat and social media.

And all the warning signs are that people are becoming more and more addicted to information. A Harvard Business Review article reported a study of workers in the United Stated which showed that 60% of people check email in the bathroom, 15% checked it at church and 11% have hidden the fact that they are checking it from a spouse.

What are the tools and resources that we can leverage to ensure that we cope and are able to be productive in a small business or a large company? Although it can be said that technology and access to information is part of the problem, technology can also be the solution. Here are my top 5 productivity tips for dealing with information overload:

1. Understand that not all information is created equal

Of all the information we must process, not all of it requires equal attention and prioritization. Knowing which information needs to be dealt with at which time can make all the difference. The ability to flag information as high priority is arguably one of the best features ever incorporated into email. I also used to have emails where I am cc’d go into a separate box. But technology has advanced since then and staying on top of important information is now easier than ever. These days chat-based tools like Microsoft Teams allow the people I collaborate with to flag information as important and people can also @mention me for information needing my direct attention. This gives me the ability to not only triage the information that is important and relevant, but also to jump straight into what’s urgent. Learning how to prioritize information has helped me make sense of the clutter, and technology now does the heavy lifting for me.

About the author

The former head of FNB Connect, Farren Roper, has joined software firm Microsoft in the role of central marketing organization (CMO) lead. He is Technologist, Marketer, Lawyer, Ted talks speaker, Masters Graduate but still a Life-Student. Also mad about tennis, travel, food & wine!

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