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2012 Resolution Roundup: Limit Your Information Exposure

By on January 5, 2012No Comment

More toasts, less e-mail?

Now that 2012 is upon us, it is worth noting the abundance of end-of-year resolution articles that focus on our own favorite topic, Information Overload.

Nick Bilton, writing in the New York Times, resolved that, in 2012, he will spend at least 30 minutes every day without his iPhone, iPad, Internet, or any other electronic device.  Bilton believes that his use of electronics has cut into his daydreaming time to his detriment.  He notes that he came to this resolution after finding himself spending more time trying to take the perfect picture of a magnificent sunset with his iPhone than the time he spent actually enjoying what he was witnessing.  Our research has revealed that the typical knowledge worker has only 5% of his day for thought and reflection, and we wish Mr. Bilton the best as he tries increase that figure.  As he put it, “I don’t intend to give up my technology entirely, but I want to find a better balance. For me, it’s that 30 minutes a day for daydreaming.”

Writing in Fast Company, Aaron Shapiro, CEO of Huge, a digital marketing company, has made some resolutions of his own.  They are to turn off IM, which he sees as an invitation to be interrupted; check e-mail only a few times a day; and to schedule time for social media.  We agree with Mr. Shapiro that IM, e-mail, and social media can be the source of significant interruptions, and it is incumbent on the individual to set limits for use and to always take the time to select the appropriate communications channel for the task at hand.  Turning IM off completely may be a bit on the extreme side though, as the tool can actually help avoid other interruptions, such as e-mail and phone calls.  Our current guidelines for selecting the best tool are laid out in our recently updated What Works Better When article.

Ironically, other resolutions that are being advocated this year involve more reading, which may actually increase overload.  Bruce Upbin of Forbes suggests that your resolution for this year should be to read The Information Diet by Clay A. Johnson.  Johnson, whose coining of the term “infovegan” we reported on previously, advocates limiting the information you allow yourself to consume, thereby achieving a more healthy mental state by reducing Information Overload.

In numerous recent radio interviews and articles, Jonathan Spira’s Overload! How Too Much Information Is Hazardous to Your Organization has also been offered as a great way to get a jump start on a productive 2012 by learning how to take steps in order  to reduce your exposure to Information Overload.  No matter what book you read or steps you take, resolve to make 2012 the year you take action against your Information Overload exposure.

Cody Burke is a senior analyst at Basex.  He can be reached at cburke@basex.com

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