Too Much Information?

I don’t know if you’ve ever been chatting with a friend you haven’t seen in a long time, when all of a sudden you hear that beep of the BlackBerry or the chime of an incoming text message, or even a good old phone ring. Instantly, your friend picks up one of his electrical devices and proceeds to look at, respond, or even pick up the phone, all in middle of your conversation. He finishes, and says, ” so what were we saying…” Besides for the fact that it takes a couple of seconds to pick up the train of thought and continue on the conversation, it is a highly rude thing to do, though it has unfortunately become far too common in today’s day and age.

When something like this happens during work , it ultimately takes away from the productivity level. Electronic mail more commonly known as email, is generally a wonderful form of communication. It is a method of exchanging digital messages between people. It’s very quick and generally less time-consuming than telephone calls. But, problems do arise from all the unnecessary and time-wasting emails that people forward around. It remains as a major source of information overload as people struggle daily to keep up with the rates of incoming messages. E-mail was described as “a $650 Billion Drag on the Economy”, and as the bane of many people’s lives, because of the extreme information overload.

Information overload refers to an excess amount of information being provided causing it to be much harder to process it and to know the validity of it. So for example when trying to research something on the Internet, a lot of time is wasted verifying the validity of the information you’ve accumulated searching the Web.

Interruptions and distractions are another form of of information overload. All the beeps, chimes, and rings that occur throughout the day , that cause you to stop your work for a few moments, all hinder the productivity level, whether a lost train of thought, or even the accumulation of wasted minutes at the end of the day which add up to a surprising amount! Multi-tasking, does not necessarily extend to include outside interruptions! People with jobs requiring long periods of quiet or solitude in order to produce, are known to keep strange hours; during the regular work day in today’s world it’s almost impossible to have stretches of quiet without interruptions.

Ironically, in a world open to so many forms of communication, we are not communicating well at all. Take into account the business meeting where everyone in attendance is busy with his or her Blackberry or laptop, generally ignoring the main topic of discussion. Or even unanswered emails, the sender might take the lack of response to mean a disinterest in the topic at hand, when in essence the recipient hasn’t had the time to return it yet, due to the tidal wave of other unimportant emails that have come his way. Part of the issue is definitely just a thoughtless occurrence. When , for example, people send a long drawn out response where a shorter, more concise one would’ve done. Or because it’s just another click of the button, they hit “Reply All” instead of just responding to the sender himself.

Many companies in desperation are experimenting with different solutions. Some tried imposing email quotas on the amount of emails a worker can send. Others have tried to limit the amount of internal emails. A universal solution has yet to be found.

Aside from the issue during the workday, the information overload also disturbs our family time, quality time with friends, and our chances to unwind and recharge. Children growing up in the world today, need to see their parents love and to feel their undivided attention in order to boost their self- esteem and set them on the path to success. Additionally, if there is no option to leave work at work and instead the beeps and chimes come home with us, how can we expect to feel invigorated for a new day without ever having a break?

Already in the younger generation we witness this problem too. Our children in school have a responsibility to their studies. They too have the problem of constant distractions in many forms, which greatly hamper their capability to perform to their abilities. It’s just hard to focus when so many other things keep interrupting. And we see the negative effects all the time. Texting has completely taken over many of our childrens lives. Texting opens up a child to a world of contacts, many of them we wouldn’t approve of, but texting takes their communication out of our hands. In addition, its a major distraction because their minds are constantly on the conversation they are in the middle of. Aside from the extreme danger of texting while driving, which we have unfortunately seen or heard of the tragic results. We definitely need to make our children aware of how to use technology safely and properly.

The problem can only grow as we head into a future of more advanced technology; we need to catch it while we can and figure out which solution works best for us. Whether it means to turn the BlackBerry off at home, clearer communication in an email, less unnecessary emails to unnecessary recipients, shorter co-worker chats while working, etc. I , for one, am considering reverting back to good old snail mail! Be creative, it will only be to your benefit.