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Information Overload Day 20 October 2011 – reduce email overload

Posted Thursday October 20th, 2011, 5:22 pm by

Email Overload is a major contributor to information overload.  Today is the annual Information Overload Day.  This event was initiated by Basex who have just posted some data on the staggering cost of information overload.  Did you know that for every hundred people who are unnecessarily copied into emails we lose eight hours?

We are swamped by information from RSS feed, daily newsletters and social networking updates (many of which come by email) and everyday emails from colleagues and friends.  Just as we like to think we can multi-task and still be productive, we think we can handle all this Email Overload.

When I meet  people at networking events and give my elevator pitch about what I do, the instant reaction is often, ‘I simply delete all the unwanted emails’.  But that in itself just adds to the time and energy wasted because you still have to use precious time and brain power to scan the list of incoming emails to know what to delete.  That is an appalling yet avoidable waste of time.  Deleting 20 emails a day which you really did not need wastes up to 30 minutes a day.  Who can afford such indiscriminate waste in the current economic climate?

Information and email overload carries significant health warning to us as individuals through distorted work-life balance and our business as key emails are missed in the morass of unwanted ones.

To check what email overload is costing you use our ‘Cost of Email Overload’ Calculator.

Based on the premise that your inbox is your work in progress (action tray), here is my three point plan to reduce information overload by being far more selective about what emails drop into your inbox.

1) Prioritise each email which arrives over the next few days.  Triage them according to the usefulness to use:

  • Must know/see (eg request for action from clients/colleagues)
  • Nice to know (eg newsletters, cc’d emails etc)
  • No use (newsletters you don’t read, marketing emails etc)

2) For all ‘nice to know’ emails – set up rules to move them automatically to folders for reading (action) later.

3) For all ‘no use’ emails – remove yourself from the senders distribution list.  If they come from a specific friend/colleague tell them what you are doing. Enlist them in the campaign against information overload by taking you off their circulation list!

This will help you save time and reduce the level of information overload you endure and hence enable you to be more productive.

To further fight the information overload battle try our Nine Ps of Smart Email.

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