Work performance is affected by the amount of information to which we are exposed. When we receive too much information, we can have difficulty prioritizing, remembering, and making informed decisions, simply because we find it difficult to get an overview of which information is most important.
Ultimately, this could lead to stress and anxiety when the volume of information transferred we’re receiving overwhelms our cognitive capacity and we are unable to do the things we need to get done.
It is possible to increase our capacity to handle information, but the potential is marginal when compared to the amount of information to which we are increasingly exposed. Therefore, it is important to find a new approach and to work smart.
6 ways to manage information overload
1. Sift: When you realize what your goals, values, and priorities are, it is easier to weed out those things that are unimportant. Make an agreement with your boss, colleagues, and yourself as to which information is important and what can be ignored.
2. Limit interruptions: When you’re concentrating, interruptions can be very taxing for cognition, and can also lower the threshold for information overload. Make sure to limit interruptions
3. Email: This is often the most common source of information overload. Handling emails correctly mean success. A good example of this would be deleting all newsletters and marketing material you are no longer interested in following. You can also create separate prioritized email inboxes: create an inbox for all cc’d mail; one for all-important senders; and another for everything you want to read in order to keep up to date. Remember, the best way to get fewer emails is to send fewer emails yourself.
4. Schedule a time: Book a time of the week when you update yourself with background reading.
5. Information: Be structured when searching for information. Make a list of what you need, and think about how you can possibly pinpoint information, rather than aimlessly searching the Internet.
6. Simplify: Think about what can be simplified, streamlined, and automated in your job, especially when it comes to reports, processes, and submissions.
NEW SOCIAL DEMANDS
One change in the working environment that is not often spoken about is the new demand for social competency. We change jobs more often, and work in a freer form, having more targeted tasks that require a greater ability to cooperate.
Companies today employ fewer permanent staff, making the labor marker more flexible, but this also means that more staff come and go from the workplace. For each new person in the workplace, we need to invest energy in establishing a relationship and our social brain has to work to find clues and build networks. While there are high demands on social interaction at work, we are now less social. Often, we do not have time for coffee breaks, which give us the opportunity to build connections and networks with colleagues. But there are strategies for dealing with these social demands.
5 strategies to manage social demands
1. The right level: Try to find the right level for your commitment to the job. Accept that change is big and uses up energy – and try to accept it. Decide how much time and energy you will give to your job’s social relationships. It is possible to find the right level of activity and engagement.
2. Access: Do not look at new people and their views as a threat. Look upon changes and new people an asset and an opportunity to learn new things.
3. Stop button: If there is a lot of change in the workplace that will take energy and make things more difficult, try to find a stop button. Empty your head every now and again by writing down everything you’re dealing with regarding social relationships. This will make it easier for your brain to think about something else.
4. Take the initiative: Help ease social interactions in the workplace by taking the initiative. There may not be time for coffee every day, but maybe once a week is workable.
5. Time-out: It is okay to occasionally take time out from the social demands at work by finding a quiet place to work, and to get peace and quiet.