Information overload: the USD650 billion problem

December 27, 2007

the USD650 billion problem I love the Internet, yes I do. But there are times when I feel somewhat overwhelmed by it or more correctly, by information overload. Research firm Basex estimates that the interruptions and loss of productivity information overload causes has a high cost: USD650 billion, to be exact.

Basex even goes so far as to call it 2008′s problem of the year. Nathan Zeldes, a Principal Engineer at Intel is quoted by WebProNews:" At Intel we estimated the impact of information overload on each knowledge worker at up to eight hours a week,". Eight hours. There’s a lot you could get done in eight hours so losing it to a worker’s helplessness at handling his overflowing inbox would be a pity.

But that’s the challenge of the Information Age: sorting out the mass influx of data and making it make sense. At work, employees feel challenged when it comes to staying on top of things. Knowledge workers are especially vulnerable – with how fast change and innovation moves in their fields, it’s a constant struggle to keep up with the times, to stay in the loop and not get left behind.

This is where I see a greater demand for specialists. It’s no longer possible to be Renaissance men or Jack-of-all-trades. It’s easier to know a lot about one topic as opposed to being proficient in many. Resist the urge to be a know-it-all.

As productivity gurus keep chanting, prioritize, prioritize, prioritize. Rather than check your email every few seconds, set aside periods of time in a day to get through them at one shot. Don’t be so fixated on your BlackBerry to the point you can’t get the rest of your work done. Timesheets are a good way to record what you get done – so perhaps you can kick your CrackBerry habit if you see on paper that you spend more time on the darn thing than writing reports, giving presentations or actual research. The information isn’t going anywhere – it’s like a buffet table. Just because there’s all that food, you shouldn’t feel pressured to taste it all or consume it at one go. For more productivity tips, check out It’ll help you get on your way to achieve the Zen state of being productive, effective without killing yourself to get there.

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