Did you know that, on average, humans will produce more data and information every two days than all of humanity did from the beginning of time until the year 2003? Between smart phones and DIY blogs, data is easy to create and distribute. While there are countless benefits to being able to create and share data in abundance, there are a number of drawbacks as well. The drawbacks can affect every aspect of your life, but nowhere are they more apparent than in the world of business. You could argue that more data will mean better results, and better results will lead to more profits for your company. However, in many instances the opposite is true. Is your company suffering from information overload? Here are a few things you need to know about identifying and solving this ever-growing problem.
Too Much of a Good Thing
You can have too much of a good thing; for example, a single scoop of ice cream will likely delight you, especially on a hot summer day. On the contrary, eating four gallons will likely result in a horrific night or even time in the hospital. Water is necessary for all life. However, you can drink too much water and wind up hurting yourself. When it comes to data and information in the workplace, you can have too much of that as well.
Whether you run a trucking company or deal with investments, data is going to be the lifeblood of your company. Without a steady stream of information about customers, market trends, suppliers, and other factors, you won’t be able to make informed decisions and adapt to changes. But there is a tipping point where that information begins to do more harm than good.
Information overload is the result of being exposed (either intentionally or unintentionally) to more information than your brain can process and use. You can read and view a few pieces of information each day and still retain what is being presented. But you can’t take it all in and expect to learn anything. For example, consider that there are more than 500 million tweets created each day; while your job will not require you to look at every type of tweet created, that is only one tiny app in a vast sea of informational sources. Between spreadsheets, articles, conference calls, emails, seminars, and instant messages, you are bombarded by information on a regular basis. And unfortunately, this problem can lead to a serious decrease in productivity, both on an individual basis and for companies as a whole.
What to Look For
Are you suffering from information overload? Unless you pay attention to the signs, it can be hard to tell. Here are a few things you need to look out for individually and throughout your company:
- A compulsive need to check email or other communications on a regular basis in order to feel like you are staying connected with your peers.
- A sense of urgency or a pressing need to rush no matter what you are doing.
- Feeling burnt out, ill, or unmotivated on a regular basis.
- An inability to concentrate and a feeling that you never understand what you are learning.
- Hostility, frustration, or anger, especially when trying to grasp new information or concepts.
While information overload can have serious consequences, there are ways to reduce or even eliminate the problem. There are two methods of fixing the problem: the first way is to take personal measures to guard against being overwhelmed, and the second method involves changes to data and file management throughout the workplace.
One of the best ways to prevent information overload is to streamline the information you take in. If you are like most people, you actively follow the news, social media, and subscription information. By cutting back what you view to only those things that are directly necessary, you will keep your mind fresh to understand the things that are really important. Make sure you only use or view information that you care about. In the office, be sure to cut out subscriptions, feeds, or tasks that are asinine or valueless (even if that means not browsing Facebook during your lunch break). By completely ignoring information that doesn’t benefit you, you won’t need to worry about mental ‘clutter’ accumulating and getting in the way of the good stuff.
You can also focus on one topic or project at a time. The average person will need to juggle several tasks simultaneously at work. If you find yourself working on (or giving out) several jobs at once, make sure you pick only the most important and work until the task is accomplished and then move on to another. Along with this, organizing or segmenting your time can help as well. If you give yourself a certain period of time to focus on one thing, your mind will be tuned to the specific information, increasing your chances of retaining what you intake.
Changing the way your office manages its data and information can dramatically improve office efficiency and almost eliminate informational overload. And the best way to improve efficiency is to use a quality document management service. At eFileCabinet, we provide a comprehensive data management system that will give you a way to organize and store all of your company’s vital information. Our data system will allow you to access exactly what you need, when you need it, without wasting time searching through disorganized or irrelevant files.
Besides keeping your data organized, our document management service will also keep your files safe. Whether it’s from a broken hard drive or a virus, losing data means redoing the same tasks you have already done. And one of the easiest ways to feel overwhelmed by too much information is to go back and redo something you already completed. But with safe Cloud-based data backup solutions and highly protected software, you won’t need to worry about redoing a project or resorting information because of data loss.
Sometimes there is no way around the sheer volume of data you use or interact with at work. But by streamlining how you access and use the information and avoiding digital clutter, workplace efficiency can skyrocket and informational overload will become a thing of the past.