Managing information overload

Today’s hyper-connected business people are bombarded with more information than ever before. We are all faced with information overload.

Many businesses have tried to encourage their offices to go paperless. However, people still have stacks of paper, magazines, articles and reference materials all around their desks. Inboxes are overflowing with ever increasing volumes of emails. Businesses are spending more and more on digital storage (and physical storage). So how do you manage information overload?

Identify sources and create filters

Consider where your information comes from. You probably receive email, newsletters, industry publications, etc. Consider what information you really need then set up email filters which cut out the rubbish and only allow the relevant information through to your inbox. In terms of physical information – create a rule. If you don’t read an industry publication within a week you should pass it on or bin it (in the recycling of course).

Allocate time to review it

Put some time in your diary to go through all the data that you are collating. Go through those email folders. Review documents that you have stored away. Book a meeting with yourself to do this so that you’ve got some structured time in your diary each week to deal with information. If you use a mind map to organise your data sources into categories you could set up time to deal with each category one by one and therefore avoid jumping around from one topic to the next.

Act on it or delete / recycle it

During your review time your plan should be to act on information or delete it. Your options should be something along the lines of the following:

  • Deal with it now
  • Deal with it later – only if it’s going to take more than 5 minutes to do.
  • Add it to your To Do list or mind map of tasks.
  • Pass it on to someone else to action.
  • File it away as information that is useful to know.
  • Delete it.