Happy Information Overload Awareness Day
Today is the third annual Information Overload Awareness Day (some media outlets have shortened this to Information Overload Day, which in my view gives it an entirely different spin).
To “celebrate,” we at Basex invite each and every one of you to Lower the Overload starting now.
Some may ask, why do we need an Information Overload Awareness Day? We need it because we don’t have days that are free from the problem. Our research shows that only 5% of the knowledge workers’ day is available for thought and reflection. The largest single block of time in the average day (25%) is spent dealing with Information Overload-related issues, such as interruptions, excessive e-mails, and failed searches.
We need Information Overload Awareness Day because the problem is getting worse, not better. For us to even begin to regain our lost productivity, scattered focus, and decimated work/life balance, the first thing that must happen is for every one of us to acknowledge the problem, and then take action.
We need Information Overload Awareness Day because Information Overload is dulling our senses and limiting our ability to absorb more in-depth and complex thoughts and content.
Last year, we asked all knowledge workers to attempt to send 10% fewer e-mail messages. This year, we ask knowledge workers to reaffirm that pledge. If you have lapsed, please try again. If you’ve succeeded, try to commit to further reducing the quantity of e-mail you send.
We’ve made great progress in raising awareness of Information Overload’s impact. My book Overload!: How Too Much Information Is Hazardous To Your Organization was published a few months ago. It outlines the problem of Information Overload and shows us how we all can make a difference through our individual actions.
We’ve also expanded the conversation to include a variety of great thinkers and writers. In June, in an online roundtable sponsored by the Information Overload Research Group, we brought together Dave Crenshaw (The Myth of Multitasking), Daniel Forrester (Consider), Maggie Jackson (Distracted), and William Powers (Hamlet’s BlackBerry).
Just recently, I spoke at Google’s headquarters (talk about being inside the lion’s den) to Google employees about the problem (yes, they have it there too) and I’ve been speaking at conferences and meetings almost on a weekly basis (next Tuesday, I’ll be in Philadelphia speaking at a Wharton event).
Organizations that include Google, the Churchill Club, Dow Jones, and Berkeley University invited me to speak and join in Information Overload-focused events that have helped spread the word and raise awareness like never before.
Information Overload cost theU.S.economy $997 billion in 2010 – and that figure continues to grow as we approach 2012.
Help Lower the Overload (our slogan for Information Overload Awareness Day) on Thursday and beyond. Remember, even without your knowing it, your actions impact others so do what you can. Remember, we are all in this together.
People frequently ask me if there is an easy fix for Information Overload, a corporate pill as it were. While such a thing does not exist, I do know that simply raising awareness of the problem and its ramifications does help begin to reduce the amount of overload we face. In addition, each of us can and should assume a bit of personal responsibility for the problem and take the appropriate steps to mitigate it.
Jonathan B. Spira is CEO and Chief Analyst at Basex and author of Overload! How Too Much Information Is Hazardous To Your Organization.