Managing information overload

Managing information overload

Every day, people are confronted by vast amounts of new information flowing towards them from a multitude of sources. Almost everyone feels overwhelmed at some point when trying to absorb, understand and apply this new information. The impact on individuals varies from simple time wasting to serious health problems.

The Information overload resource center reports that information overload, described as “an excess of information that results in an inability to concentrate on tasks and stay focused”, is a massive problem in the 21st Century. Recent Basex research shows information overload costs the US economy around $900 billion per year.

For organisations, the effect of having overloaded employees is compounded and results in a massive loss of productivity. For example, Intel’s own research indicated each knowledge worker loses eight hours per week due to information overload, which for a company its size would result in a cost of around $1 billion per year.

The challenge for leaders then is clear – help your people understand the obstacle of information overload and give them the skills to do something about it.

In studying managing information overload Mindwerx has developed a model to help understand it, and with that understanding individuals and organisations can do something about it. This is our model:

  • Purpose and focus – it all starts (and ends) with clarity of focus. Knowing what to
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    work on, and what to ignore is vital
  • Information incoming – the first step is understanding where information comes from and how to handle it as it comes in.
  • Information organisation – how to organise information as it comes in so you can retrieve and use it later.
  • Information retention and recall – knowing what and how to retain and recall key information, and ways to improve memory.
  • Information application – applying critical and creative thinking to achieve the goals you set.
  • iBrain and digital literacy – understanding and harnessing new technologies will help you manage information overload.
  • Mind and body connection – appreciating that healthy mind = healthy body, and healthy body = healthy mind.
  • Time and life management – time manages itself quite nicely, it’s what you do with your time that determines your life success.

Within this model there are a wide range of skills that can be developed to manage information overload including:

  • Imagineering and the use of focus statements to create your hit lists of the aims, goals and objectives.
  • Reading strategically to increase speed, comprehension and recall.
  • Organising information tools such as mind maps to better retain, adapt, and manage it.
  • Improved memory skills to retaining and recalling the information you need, when you need it.
  • Critical and creative thinking techniques such as parallel and lateral thinking, and other tools in the deliberate creative thinking toolkit.
  • iBrain and digital literacy technologies such as cloud computing, tablet Apps, and powerful collaboration system, as well as learning to effectively use social media.
  • Knowing a healthy mind and healthy body are connected is not enough – actions with diet, exercise, and relaxation are required to help cope with information overload.
  • Life management begins with first important priorities, then daily scheduling methods help to ensure you make the best use of the time we all have.

Mindwerx International now offers a free email eCourse on managing information overload that also gives you access to a 14-page white paper on the subject.

For more information, and a copy of the White Paper, subscribe at or email Bill Jarrard at

This article first appeared on Leadership Victoria.


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