Blog #671 Information Overload – part III

Information Overload – part III

Okay, Information Overload is real – and can swamp you!!!  You can get stressed out, not sure what to believe, and not sure what decisions to make on the data you have.

So, let’s look at some ways to stay afloat.

-1 Alter the delivery

The article says:

“Changing your perception of a task by changing the medium, method or platform you use to work on that task. For example, printing out a document and working with it outside vs. reading the same document on your computer screen at your desk.”

I’ve worked with “Decision Support Systems” in the past.  Some people like charts, some like tables, some even like narratives.  Some want summary reports, others want exception reports (that is, the unusual items).  How do you want your information? Think about it.

-2 Delegate

Again from the article:

“Delegating tasks to the right/relevant teammate or co-worker, rather than taking it on ourselves. This is easy enough to understand, until you realize that on average, 20 percent of the people in your organization are doing roughly 80 percent of the work, which in all likelihood includes you.”

Yes, the old 80/20 rule – 20% of the people are doing 80% of the work.  Somebody in your organization is having an easy time of it and yet has the skills to do more.  At the University of Texas, I was a ‘Senior Lecturer’ not a full professor like I had been for the twenty prior years.  In terms of activities, I wasn’t expected to do much more than teach – and I did have some free time. I could have helped with internal reports and accreditation as I had done that for years.  Maybe there are unutilized people in your department that can help take the load off your shoulders.

3. Escape

Okay, not really ‘escape’.  One of the biggest productivity hits are the interruptions.  You are working on something significant and somebody stops by (with a cup of coffee in her hands) and wants to chat.  Or, you are working hard and you get a phone call.

Can you close your door?  Can you put up a “do not disturb” sign?  Can you unplug your phone (or turn it off)?  Every interruption costs you and the company money.  When you get back to your major project, the first thing you ask yourself (mentally) is “now, where was I”.  You have to get the focus back to the project. If you can, you might want to consider working from home (provided you don’t allow interruptions at home).

-4 Filter

You get a lot of information from websites, from email, from documents – and some is more important that others.

In my last series on Fracking, there was a source from “”.  I can tell just from the website name that this is a group proponent of natural gas (from fracking).  On the other hand I also used USGS – United States Geological Survey as a source. (Hey, if you can’t trust the government, who can you trust?”  <smile>)

There is a fear of “what if I miss something”.  Yes, that is possible. The term I like is “satisficing” – not quite ‘satisfied’ – but close enough.  I could have read many more articles about fracking, but I had ‘enough’ to give me a good picture of the concept.  There is a parallel – FOMO – fear of missing out!!

You have to learn (sometimes by tough lessons) what information is essential to your work, what is good – and what might be fluff!!

Ah yes, too much information.  I’ve also heard this in social context as a person is telling his or her story and has embellished the story (maybe a ‘wee bit’).  TMI might be a person’s comment.

More on too much information tomorrow!!!

Have a great weekend!!


Posted by Bruce White

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