It’s not information overload – it’s filture failure

The digital world is always inventing a new way for you to connect with people and for people to connect with you. To add to all this the information on the internet is becoming more and more complex to manage and organise information.

This does not seem to worry younger generations and digital influencers. These people just seem to have a handle on how to deal with all this information. They naturally organise and distrubute information into the digital and physical space without to much concern. However most of us need to get a handle on managing digital communication (email, cellphones, social media, instant messaging, skype and SMS.)

Managing Information Overload

Digital communication ALWAYS seems urgent to us. Something happens inside us when we get an email that compells us to stop what we’re doing and answer the email right away. Leading to a very unproductive lifestyle that is dictated to by email. Add to this all the other digital communication options and soon your life is over-run with ‘urgent’ requests from everyone everywhere. We lose control of our To Do lists, project management, personal time, and so much more.Filture Failure for managing information

I wrote about managing information overload on my blog a few weeks ago and got a few comment that may prove helpful to people looking to manage the influx of information and communication. To kick off here is a except from the blog post:

I don’t think that I have all the answers by any means but here are a few principles/technologies that I use to manage/filter the information that I am expected to consume each day.

  1. I use Google Reader to keep track of the blog I like reading – This saves me time because I am not distracted by advertising and additional ‘interesting’ articles by visiting the actual website. Google Reader allows me to subscribe to blogs and consume their content without wasting time on being distracted/redirected to other content
  2. I don’t push any email or social media updates to my phone - By constantly being interrupted by email and social media alerts I find I am always in a state of urgency to reply even thought the people on the other end do not expect an immediate reply. I find mobile email user amusing when they reply to my emails telling me that they received my email and will reply later as they are in a meeting. No one actually needs to be on their email 24hrs a day. They only need to ensure that they answer all their email. There is a difference!
  3. I use a content filter - There is a dark side to the internet and I got tired of bumping into it. Yes I know I am over 18 and can consume that sort of media but I just don’t want to. Pornography and violence don’t add anything good into my life and therefore I opted in for a content filter that would warn me of “the dark side.” Keeping my internet experience more enjoyable.
  4. Unsubscribe from facebook emails - you don’t need an email every time someone tags you in a photo. When you login to Facebook again you will be notified that someone tagged/poked/emailed or posted to a message. Fit your social media life on your schedule.

I recieved a comment from Elenor that adds a great tip on email management:

“Something I find very helpful is email filters. I apply rules, and auto-post out of my Inbox to folders for certain email addresses, and diarise a time when I will look at the contents of those folders. That way I always get to the emails, but at a date and time that I choose. (Eleanor)”

There are quite a few way to take control over your digital communication and information. My advice to to take control of it before it takes control of you.

Share your thoughts!

So in the spirit of sharing, have you got any information or communication management tips that you can share with us? We would love to hear from you.

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3 Responses to “It’s not information overload – it’s filture failure”

  1. Nathan Zeldes February 16, 2011 at 4:03 pm #

    The question of how the younger generation (“Gen Y”) can cope with the overload is still open. Of course they can handle five simultaneous chats instead of listening to their history teacher at school… but does that mean they will be able to write five academic papers at once, or design five VLSI chips at once, when they enter the workplace?

    Of course they won’t – and there are some worrying indications that they are beginning to feel the pain of email overload just like their elders. They do, however, have different skill sets and may develop better coping strategies. I’ve been leading the battle on information overload at Intel and beyond for 16 years, and this question is one of the more fascinating ones on my plate…

    Oh, and it is BOTH info overload AND filter failure – as I argue at http://bit.ly/bDUDuB

  2. Mike Saunders February 17, 2011 at 9:36 am #

    Hi Nathan

    I would agree that Gen Y will have to start finding ways to manage their information overload. As you mention here, focus will be the biggest issue.At best we normally only retain half a Gen Y persons attention.

    As this gifted generation enter the work place I believe they will need to use filtering and management strategies to help them focus in order to get things done.

    I think that any person (from any generation) who can manage their information and productivity filters correctly will benefit from a more productive and informative life. The trick would be doing this without letting it become the epicentre of our life.

    As people let information influx and work influx mage their lives they inevitabley become more ineffective as they are no longer controlling their own path of learning and productivity.

    Therefore I would disagree that information overload is the problem but rather we lack the knowledge and resources to manage the complexity of the internet and therefore we become daunted by is immense volume and pace. Filters will help us to put this volume and pace where it belongs – on our schedule!!

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