How to Fight Information Overload at Workplace
Nowadays there are so many people in the world that opt for mobile phones rather than landlines. Not to mention many of them use mobile phones for daily activities, and many also use PDAs or Blackberries in their working activities. Many believe that they need to be online at urgent times, which is almost every time they have their mobile phones switched on. Information overloading today seems to be common in many working places, and it’s starting to get people stressed. Some symptoms like the blackberry thumb are caused by excessive usage of mobile phones, as well as many others. However, the main problem still exists. How do you disconnect from online world these days and take a break from online activities?
Technology is enabling us to do many things that we supposedly not able to do. In many times, this also means that we are going to receive any information that we probably don’t need to. The first thing you would want to do is to check and filter whether you need this information or not. Although this might seems like an easy task for some, it’s still difficult for some people. The best way to check it (assuming you’re using mobile emails for working) is to ask yourself whether you expected this email or not. If you do not expect this email (more obviously from unknown sender), just delete it. Even though it says in the subject Urgent or Important but if it is really urgent then the person should be calling you instead (which we will discuss in the next point).
You also have to set the standard on how to contact you. It means giving a clear direction and instruction on how to contact you. You should give instructions so that any urgent or important message should be delivered to you not by emails or text messages, but through a direct call. This way, you would understand the person better than if they just send you an email. Moreover, you could set the times at day when you will reply to all those emails, and don’t forget to tell people about it. You can try an email signature that reads “I will reply at 9AM, 1PM and 4PM. Please call if you need quicker response.” You could also set limits on how people can contact you. By limiting it, people would only call or email you when they really need to.
Also don’t let those emails interrupt you. You need to stick to a schedule that you made. When someone interrupts your work with emails, the you can ignore it (providing you already had the second point already) or you can skim the message and continue your work. You can always reply the email later. You must not think that whenever there is an email, you have to answer it ASAP. You have a choice to not replying the email. As I have already said earlier, if it’s really important, then the person should call you, not email you.
And don’t forget to go offline every time you’re at home. Don’t forget that your home is not your workplace. You do not have to be online in your own home. You need to take at least few hours off every day from your online world. Nobody will blame you for not being able to be reached when you’re home. If your profession requires you to be reachable anytime such as doctors or police or any other social workers, then you have to set your day off, one or two days in a week wouldn’t hurt. At that day, you could turn off your mobile phone and just enjoying your time together with your loved ones.
It is better for you to have your personal and work mobile numbers separated. It means that you have your own personal mobile number, and another number for working purposes. Even though it is more costly, but in the long run you will be able to relax and take a load off out of your mind. Be warned though, if you have two numbers, choose wisely to whom you will give the numbers. Don’t ever give your personal number to fellow workers unless you are good friends with some of them.
So on conclusion, you can always fight the information overload at your workplace by:
- Check and filter whether you need the information or not. Ask your email provider whether you can have email filtering or not. You should always check whether you were expecting the information or not.
- Set the limits and standard on how to contact you. Give instructions and rules how people can contact you. As I already said several times before, if the subject is very important, then they should call you instead.
- Make a schedule for your work, so that when something interrupts you, you can always resume your work easily. Don’t forget that you do not have to reply the email ASAP.
- Don’t forget to go offline every time you’re not at work. Let’s not forget that we humans also have to have our own space. Do not let your work mess up your life.
- If applicable (and I know it is), have different numbers for your personal and work mobile phones. That way, you could easily turn off your phone when you need to, and you could easily categorize which one is from your family and which one from your colleagues.
Even though the number of people who have mobile phone already exceeds half of the world’s population (not counting those who have more than one phones), it really doesn’t mean that you should be stressed with information if you don’t need it. Remember that you always have the choice to go offline and fight the information overload. If you succeed, then you would be able to enjoy yourself (and your work too!) better. So, good luck trying these tips and see you next post..! ;-)