These days, we’re increasingly swimming in a sea of information and sometimes it all feels like there’s too much to process. There’s 24/7 TV channels, news, social media, YouTube videos, blogs, articles and more to follow, in both our work and personal time – and it seems that we just can’t get enough of content consumption. You could even say that we’re addicted to it!

However, in the workplace, information overload can result in decreased productivity. You can kid yourself that reading and reading and then reading some more counts as ‘research’, as it ‘feels’ useful, but if you’re not looking at quality content, then it’s just another way to waste your time. Processing information requires your attention and effort to decide whether it’s useful or not, so how can you cut through the noise and work more efficiently?

Tips, tips, tips

Information overload seeps into all areas of our work – soaking up time from when we could actually be doing work and making progress. Consider some of these tips to stay on top of your workload by reading less and doing more…

  • Learn to skim read. Any well-written content will not only have an informative heading, but its sub-headings should give you a very broad overview of what it’s about. Read these first to make a judgment on whether you need to dedicate precious moments to read the whole thing, word for word.
  • Restrict what you read. Another great tip is to stick to a limited number of social media channels – and possibly follow only a handful of people whose contributions are valuable to your work. By all means, swap the people you follow around, but if you keep to a smaller number, your resource pool will be easier to scan and maintain. The same goes for blogs – don’t follow hundreds; simply choose a few quality ones for your attention.
  • Set timers. Break your consumption addiction! Set timers on your smartphone for the length of time you allow yourself for internet ‘research’ or use the digital wellbeing controls to regulate your app use each day.
  • Don’t get distracted. Stick to your schedule and set limits so you don’t lose time that’s meant for other tasks to extended information processing. Both Outlook and Google calendars can show you your tasks to help you plan and prioritize more easily.
  • Manage your emails: Don’t be a slave to the in-box – make it work for you! Create rules to automatically deliver incoming emails in dedicated folders, then you’ll have everything segmented and just where you need it, when you need it.

And breathe…

The benefit of giving your brain space from content consumption is that it allows creativity to flourish, which is just as important as creating the space you need to get stuff done!

Further reading

10 symptoms of information overload and how it affects your brain and body – Learning Mind.