Employees often face information overload in business. Information is presented in many shapes and forms. It can be an inbox full of priority emails, urgent phone calls, a one-hundred page report, co-worker complaints, or several scheduled meetings with clients.
Essentially, information overload is when there is an overwhelming amount of data to be processed by employees at once. Think about a time where you had to juggle between 10 things and ended up not producing your best work.
That is information overload!
Its negative effect on productivity has business owners figuring out ways to overcome information overload in their business and in turn, boost productivity. Nevertheless, many think of it the wrong way.
They think of the cost of information overload as a dollar figure alone. Instead, they should focus on how it negatively affects the quality of work performed by employees.
Moving on, we are going to describe 4 ways to overcome information overload to stay competitive in the market by boosting productivity.
4 Ways to Overcome Information Overload in Business
Is Information Overload creating some difficulty for you? Next, read about 4 ways that managers and business owners can avoid information overload in their businesses to improve productivity.
1. Instill a Company Culture Focused on Managing Information Overload
Nowadays, humans are more connected than at any other time in history. Technological advances like email and phones allow us to easily communicate with someone on the other side of the globe at any time.
Despite being more connected than ever, many feel less connected than ever. As a result, they try to fill the void by connecting more online and accepting interruptions.
However, managers can follow these 5 steps to manage information overload in business through company culture to ensure employees feel connected with company goals and co-workers while avoiding interruptions.
2. Prioritize 3 to 5 Tasks At a Time
The human brain is designed to remember about 7 pieces of information at one time. Prioritizing 7 things can be challenging. Instead, narrow it down to 3 to 5 tasks more important to you.
Sheena Iyengar, a Columbia Business School professor, suggests to ask yourself 3 questions to avoid information overload in business.
- What is the problem I am trying to solve?
- How do I break down this problem?
- What information do I need to figure out the best solution?
When you ask yourself these questions, you approach the information presented to you more efficiently. Otherwise, the amount of information presented to you becomes overwhelming.
3. Set a Time Limit on Information Gathering
Information overload can be addictive! With all information available to you, it is essential to set a limit on the time taken to gather information. Otherwise, you will waste a lot of time trying to process the information.
Be strategic about it! Some people prefer allotting a few hours to gather different pieces of information that will add to their creative knowledge base. However, some prefer to use that allotted time to focus on one topic.
4. Schedule Related Tasks Together
After you prioritize the tasks for the day, it is important to schedule related tasks next to each other for increased productivity. Iyengar recommends scheduling related tasks next to each other in 30-minute intervals. That way, you are less likely to get overwhelmed with information overload.
Of course, it is unavoidable to have unrelated tasks as priorities, but there is a way to avoid frustration. To do so, acknowledge that there is going to be a cost of performing an unrelated task. People lose a lot of energy through frustration, decreasing productivity as a result.
For example, if you are learning how to navigate through a new application, mentally acknowledge that it will take some effort to learn it.
Need Help to Manage Your Information?
Now you know how information overload negatively impacts a company’s productivity. The same thing happens when people are looking for information online.
If they see too much information in an unorganized manner, they will go to another website with more concise and relevant information.