Sunday, October 12, 2008

Information Overload: How to Cope

Instant messages, text messages, phone calls, voice mail, work/school/personal emails, listserv messages, social network messages and status updates, RSS feeds, letters, junk mail, periodical articles, reports, books, book chapters, and the list goes on and on. All contribute to information overload, which is not a new concept. People have been feeling the effects of information overload since the 16th and 17th centuries "as books and written information became more widely produced and disseminated."

With the digital revolution of the 20th century "the amount of information flowing into our lives has increased exponentially." And, we're all feeling the effects, which are sometimes significant:

  • stress,
  • reduced analytical skills,
  • difficulty getting organised, setting priorities, and managing time,
  • decreased productivity, and
  • diminished performance.

In "Being Wired or Being Tired: 10 Ways to Cope with Information Overload" (Ariadne, July 30, 2008), Sarah Houghton-Jan examines the evolution of information overload, presents studies discussing the effects of information overload, and offers ten strategies for managing and coping with various types of informational overload:

  1. General Organisational Techniques
  2. Filtering Information Received
  3. RSS Overload Techniques
  4. Interruptive Technology Overload Techniques
  5. Phone Overload Techniques
  6. Email Overload Techniques
  7. Print Media Overload Techniques
  8. Multimedia Overload Techniques
  9. Social Network Overload Techniques
  10. Time and Stress Management

The strategies in this article (yes, another piece of information to deal with) may be just what's needed as we all try to stay caught up in the Information Age.

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