Information Overload!

by Pam Maloney @pmaloney

I was recently out at lunch with a favorite client, (Hi Frank!) and we were having a friendly discussion about information overload. You know:

  • 500+ email in your inbox. (or worse the mailbox is over it’s size limit)
  • 1000’s of unread posts in your RSS reader
  • The voicemail light is always blinking
  • You are watching television – laptop on lap, iphone in hand – in case the connection is too slow.
  • Can’t decide what to cook for dinner even with a boat load recipe books, Epicurious.com and Mark Bittman’s iphone app.

So I thought I’d take the time to address some of the problems we face in this super accessible world and  offer some ideas on how to get through the summer, a little smarter, and a little dumber…

your inbox is over its size limit

Condition: Work-Dizzy: Your head is spinning. There is so much stuff on your desk. Your inbox is full. The phone is ringing. You don’t know which task to accomplish first/next. Part of you wants to smash your computer. Part of you wants to go back to bed.

Solution #1: Clean your desk off. Reduce the pile of stuff. Throw away what you don’t need. File what has already been accomplished. Make a priorities list.

Solution #2 Take a lunch. (I know you don’t) Walk away from the desk. (I don’t care what time it is) Ignore the email. Leave the mobile behind.

Condition: Unread Anguish: RSS Reader has thousands of unread items in it! Email is full; Inbox has a million f*%$^ng things in it.

Solution #3: Get an RSS reader account. Google Reader is great. Now scan you emails for e-newsletters, blog subscriptions and Google alerts. Set them up in the reader; Unsubscribe to the email. Wait one month. Refer to Solution #5.

Solution #4: Accidentally click the “Mark all as read” button.

Solution #5: Put some time aside to manage Your RSS Subscriptions: Get into the reader’s settings and organize!

  • Delete. I know you have things in here that you never read. I also know you have probably never done some basic spring cleaning.
  • Categorize your subscriptions. Start simple. A folder for delicious food blogs. A folder for industry hot topics. A folder for local news. A folder for your Google Alerts. A folder for the competition.
  • Now do it again. Get a little deeper.

Condition: Mobile Addiction: Your eyes hurt from squinting and your pointer fingers are sore. Also, your family/kids/husband/wife is/are looking at you rather crossly. When asked, you have no idea what time it is.

Solution #5: Ask yourself, why am I doing this? Unless you are a doctor you can probably afford to put down the crackberry/iphone/smart whatever and leave a few unattended emails rather than a few unattended loved ones.

Condition: Brain To Mouse Finger Malfunction : OMG! I almost sent the newest Lady Gaga video to a client.

Solution #6: Stop. Take a deep breath. You are in multi-tasking hell. You need to focus. Refer to solution #1 stat.

Condition: Hungry : You have so many options, you can’t decide what to cook for dinner.

Solution #7: Pizza.

Send us your chronic problems / solutions –  we’d love to hear them!