Are You On Information Overload?

By Gail Cowley, Executive VP
01/29/2014

There is something to say about the constant bombardment of information we receive on a daily basis. From the newsletters to the emails to the push notifications – there’s just so much content coming from every which direction. You can never get away from it!

In my role, I don’t always have time to sit down and read every word of everything that people send to me. Would I love to read the newsletter about running and the new athletic wear coming out? But, with that newsletter, and the hundreds other pieces of content I receive during the week, I just don’t have time to read it all. More importantly, I don’t have time to digest it and take away something important from it.

So, how does one manage all of the content and information overload? It comes down to: prioritization. What is benefiting me and how often am I looking at it? Here are some quick steps to think about the prioritization of your content:

Step 1: Clarify your interests

We all have a business life, and we all have a personal life. It’s important to simplify what information we receive for which of our “lives.” If you get emailed company newsletters or e-blasts from your business life, then have those sent to your professional email. But, if you get emailed about the sale going on over at Lord & Taylor, then have that sent to a personal email address. Make a distinction between your personal interests and your professional ones.

Step 2: What are reading now?

It’s time to hit the “unsubscribe” button. This step is a process, but over time you’ll feel so much better about what content you’re receiving and from whom. You can start doing this now, even. Whenever an email or notification comes, decide if you actually want to read it anymore. If it’s something you consistently delete, instead of hitting the backspace button on it, go ahead and scroll to the bottom and click “unsubscribe” instead. That way you no longer have to receive it, and you’re freeing yourself from more information being sent your way.

A Time to ReadStep 3: Set time to read

Finally, once you’ve narrowed down your interests and the people you’re receiving information from, it’s time to start actually reading that content. If you feel like you have no time to read, then make some. Read some articles on your lunch break, or take five to ten minutes everyone once and a while to read a newsletter. But, the important thing here is to actually read it. Don’t just skim, read for the content and think about what it means to you. For your personal life emails, take a few minutes when you get home from work or set different days of the week to read a different topic of your interest.

We need to be lifelong learners and constantly stay sharp on the world around us. One of the ways to do that is to take the time to read (or watch a video) on something you can benefit from.

A Final Thought

I, maybe more than anyone, understand how hectic work can get and how tough it is to balance the information constantly thrown my way. But, the key is prioritization and clarifying what you can benefit from. It’s not easy and it’s a process that takes time, but it’s something that we can all take advantage of.

Rid yourself of information overload and start to enjoy looking in your inbox for a change!

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