How To Handle Information Overload

Information Overload

Ever feel stressed out and overloaded with everything? Suffering under the amount of work piling up and outstanding jobs that need completing?

You’re not alone! Most businesses operating today must drive growth and cut costs just in order to remain in business, others do it to maximise profits, but either way, it’s the employees that get squeezed for every drop of output…eventually it takes its toll on our health if not tackled.

I had dinner with a friend this week who’s a National Sales Manager for a well known corporate in the UK. He told me how he’d spent the afternoon working through a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP) with one of the guys in his team, someone who’d been under-performing against target since the start of the year and was now on track for a written warning.

What he couldn’t understand was how this guy, who’d been with the company for many years and had always performed well, seemed so busy (he was almost late for the PIP meeting), and hadn’t done his numbers for almost six months.¬†After some probing on my part, it turns out that there had been a lot of change at the company recently, following its acquisition by a much larger organisation last year.

Mergers and acquisitions, and the subsequent tools rolled-out for optimising processes and tracking performance, can result in information overflow across the workforce – on top of today’s already information-rich working environments. Without acknowledging this and taking steps to deal with it, the stress and feeling of overwhelm can start to spell over into our personal life, cause a breakdown in health, relationships and worst of all, eroding all those dreams that ignite the passion within us.

Try these tops tips for minimising information overload and maximising productivity:

  1. Identify the top 3 things you want to achieve every morning – before starting work.
  2. Remind yourself why you want to achieve them – what will it mean to you, your finances, career and family.
  3. Be effective not just efficient – work on the things that move you towards your big picture (these are usually around 20% of the things on an average ‘To Do’ list).
  4. Set a time for activities like email and stick to it – if you plan to spend half a day clearing your inbox from all those unread messages, you’ll spend half a day; if you plan to blast your inbox in an hour, you will.
  5. Be mindful of, and therefore limit, the activities we all use for distraction – natural coping mechanisms for avoiding tasks we’ve been putting off include reading, watching and listening to the news; checking social networking sites during the day; reading long and irrelevant brain farts (emails) from people who have nothing better to do with their time; and chatting to people in the office about stuff as a way of connecting.
  6. Learn to become selectively ignorant with information – take what’s useful and relevant, swerve or bin the rest (this includes meetings and training course).
  7. If someone interrupts your focus in an open plan office – ask to move desks to tell them you’re very busy and you’ll get back to them (then don’t – they’re get the message).
  8. Minimise interruptions when working on important tasks – turn phone to silent, close email app, turn IM off, and lock yourself away some where l relaxing if possible.
  9. Don’t suffer fools or gossipers gladly – otherwise you’ll become one.
  10. Learn the arts of priority, focus and leverage/delegation.

Download our free Healthy Habits guide for some tips on staying focussed and productive, as well as keeping your vision and purpose alive.

Focus, productivity, vision and purpose

David Allen has written a best seller for anyone wanting to learn how to achieve stress-free productivity (if you can find the time to read it of course:)

‘Alack of time is often a lack of priorities’

‘Being overwhelmed is often as unproductive as doing nothing – and far more unpleasant!’

‘Dedication is often meaningless work in disguise'<

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