Information overload continues to be a real issue for businesses because the conventional solutions that are being used are not addressing the underlying causes. For many, learned or habitual obsessiveness like answering emails, responding to texts, and checking Facebook, often happens because we are trying to fill a void. To manage information overload, you can implement specific strategies within your place of business to limit interruptions.
Create a Visual Sign to Limit Interruptions
One way to limit interruptions during the workday is to create a visual sign that everyone on the team understands to mean, “I’m busy, don’t interrupt me.” Using a visible sign, whether it be through shared calendars, or a sign hanging from the cubicle or office door, helps employees to avoid unnecessary interruptions throughout the day.
Establish Operational Definitions
Another way to manage information overload is by helping people be mindful of what is truly important. You can gauge the importance of an interruption by establishing operational definitions, which is the process for setting the parameters for things that should be acted upon. This might focus on core job descriptions in the office. For each employee, barring real emergencies, everything else that is outside their operational definition, must wait.
You must be able to determine how well you are managing information overload. You can accomplish this through both external and internal feedback. Your ability to self-assess your performance would be considered internal feedback. This could be achieved by comparing the amount of work you accomplished to the number of interruptions that qualified as operational. This can be combined with the external feedback that you receive from a supervisor to assess your performance and ability to manage information overload.
Tracking your performance is critical to your ability to manage information overload. It is the visual upward incline of your increased performance or the downward slope of interruptions that help you see your success and failure.
There is no simple solution to information overload in the workplace. The process requires maintaining an environment where interruptions are limited, operational definitions are followed, feedback is given, and performance is tracked. Being able to achieve an increase in productivity in the face of information overload takes practice. By following these steps, it is something that can be achieved, resulting in more focused minds and more work getting accomplished throughout the day.