Dealing with “information overload” at work and play

There are some days that I feel like this.

Tsunami of Information

Everyone I know has those “TMI” days where you feel mind is a teacup and a there is a firehose of blog posts, RSS Feeds, Emails, snail mail, phone calls, and honest to goodness face to face conversations and other stuff constantly filling it up.  (Such as this blog, but I assume that this blog is essential reading to your workday. <g>)

Here are some timely tips to managing your stress and information at work and at play.

First, some tips from the wonderful site Web Worker Daily (one of my daily reads.)
Here are 21 practical steps to avoid “information overload” as information professionals.

Also from Corryn Crosby-Muilenburg, a CSU Humbolt student some tips on keeping current and coping with information. A full copy of the information is after the jump.

Strategies for keeping current in your profession:

  • Define your interests;
  • Select the two or three most relevant journals and monitor them;
  • Attend appropriate conferences;
  • Mentor junior colleagues; and
  • Exchange information with other professionals who maintain expertise in other areas.

Process techniques to help you cope:

  • Do one task at a time;
  • Remember to breathe;
  • Take stretch breaks every hour or so;
  • Exercise–20 to 30 minutes every day to “reset” your adrenalin levels;
  • Adjust your “shoulds”–don’t expect yourself to be expert in every aspect of your job;
  • Use memory aids such as planners and lists to keep your mental processing space free;
  • Schedule demanding tasks for the times when your brain (and body!) are most productive;
  • Skim materials and invest your time and concentration only in relevant items; *perhaps using RSS Feeds to do that*
  • Develop information exchange relationships with people with expertise other fields important to you; *blogging and reading other blogs* and
  • Relabel your “guilt” reading pile the “just-in-case repository.”

From the pages of Corryn Crosby-Muilenburg: cc2@axe.humboldt.edu Last updated: 01/29/1999

Every day we are bombarded by a virtual tsunami of data. How do you stay current without becoming a karoshi victim? What are the strategies for finding just the right amount of the right information? Unfortunately, there are no universal magic bullets or “quick fixes” out there. The techniques, strategies, and concepts listed below are the best defenses yet discovered…..

Techniques to reduce overload:

Plan–for the long and short range

Prioritize tasks and communication

Group similar tasks and perform them in blocks

Use e-mail filters

Use intelligent agents for searching the web (e.g.: Alexa), & setting up profiles with services like Uncover

Learn what to look for

Learn when to say, “enough” and stop looking

Suggestions for creating a less stressful mental and physical work environment:

Eliminate clutter

Reduce noise

Reduce interruptions

Surround yourself with colors and images that are enjoyable and relaxing

Discard paper–establish a retention schedule for documents

Process techniques to help you cope:

Do one task at a time

Remember to breathe

Take stretch breaks every hour or so

Exercise–20 to 30 minutes every day to “reset” your adrenalin levels

Adjust your “shoulds”–don’t expect yourself to be expert in every aspect of your job

Use memory aids such as planners and lists to keep your mental processing space free

Schedule demanding tasks for the times when your brain (and body!) are most productive

Skim materials and invest your time and concentration only in relevant items

Develop information exchange relationships with people with expertise other fields important to you

Relabel your “guilt” reading pile the “just-in-case repository”

Strategies for keeping current in your profession:

Define your interests

Select the two or three most relevant journals and monitor them

Attend appropriate conferences

Mentor junior colleagues

Exchange information with other professionals who maintain expertise in other areas

Things you can learn which will help you find what you are looking for and handle information more effectively:

Learn to use Internet search tools effectively

Clearly define your question(s) before beginning your research

Construct your own personal information filter to serve as a buffer between you and the deluge of data

Ideas which provide understanding and a framework for coping with information overload:

Human memory span is limited to 7–plus or minus 2–items!!

There are common techniques, and corresponding thoughts, and feelings in the research process. Understanding them can make the research process easier. See: Kuhlthau’s Model of the Research Process

Consequences of not handling information overload well are:
stress
accepting false information!!!
impaired judgement

Please send corrections to Corryn Crosby-Muilenburg: cc2@axe.humboldt.edu
Last updated: 01/29/1999

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About (almost) Bald Trainer

A trainer in Maryland
This entry was posted in CSU Humbolt, Information overload, technology, technology users, tools, Web Worker Daily. Bookmark the permalink.

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