It is 9 am, you arrive at work, open your laptop and the horror begins: 15 notifications pop-up on your screen, 10 new mails, 3 missed phone calls and the day hasn’t even begun yet. HELP!! Today’s organizations are fighting against the digital information overload. Thanks to the digitalization of workplaces the accessibility of information has increased. Unfortunately, that means information can be shared with anyone, at anytime and anywhere. There is no escaping the digital information overload tsunami. Or is there…?
Feeling the need to keep up with everything that’s going on is a new trend amongst social media users. Facebook, Twitter, news articles, … imagine not being able to join in on the conversation! The information FOMO ‘Fear of Missing out’ extends to the workplace where employees also feel the need to be up to date with everything and everyone. Obviously, it’s not possible to be aware of everything that’s going on online or at work. To prevent employees from feeling overwhelmed by the information overload at work, you must tackle the problem.
1 Use a dashboard tool to organize information.
Opening your computer to an abundance of information can easily be overwhelming. An unorganized dashboard or intranet can kill the mood of your employees the minute they see it. Stressing your employees or discouraging them because of information overload can’t be your goal! That’s why it’s important for your business to invest in an appealing, user-friendly dashboard; where information is compact, organised and structured. No need to stress over the amount of information you see on your screen because it is immediately clear what information is relevant and what information is just nice to know.
2 Prioritize mails: tag them!
Mails are the number one distractor for your employees at work. Studies show that employees get around 20 mails a day and respond to them within 5 minutes. Yep… within 5 minutes, sometimes even faster! It’s clear that employees prioritize their incoming mails instead of the work they are doing at that moment. They stop what they are doing to reply to mails when often these mails are not at all important. The solution to the information overload in your mailbox: tag your mails!
Tagging your mails can be done in 2 ways: before sending them and after receiving them. After receiving an email, you can start tagging your mails to bring structure to your inbox. It seems to be the perfect solution to conquer the information overload in your mailbox but it is still time consuming. There is an easier solution, putting a tag in the subject line when sending an email!
Before sending an email ask yourself “How important is this email for the receiver?” and try to bring that into account when you choose a subject line for your mail.
For example: You find an interesting article about information overload that you think would be very interesting for your colleague who is writing an article about that topic. Put the tag ‘FYI’ for your info in de subject line. That way, when your receiver sees that mail, he or she knows it’s not needed to open the mail right away. He or she can continue their work and check the mail later.
Other tags: ‘IMP’ important, ‘BTW’ by the way, ‘ASAP’ as soon as possible, ….
Try to establish a uniform system with tags for the whole organization. Being able to quickly see whether an email is important or not, before even opening it, makes the difference between order and chaos.
3. Filter filter filter!!
It is humanly impossible to keep up with everything. That’s why you have to make sure your employees don’t try to! With the amount of information circulating within the company, not using filters will lead to information overload. Your employees shouldn’t be deciding whether or not information is important to them. They should not have to put in time and effort to filter the information, because that’s time and effort going to waste. Most information should be filtered by management or the team leader before reaching the employees! But how…
Create groups for your teams, projects or meetings and share relevant information in these groups. This way, only the people involved will be notified when new information or updates arise.
Use permissions for documents and folders. Employees don’t need access to documents that are not relevant to them.
Create an efficient workflow for version management. Nothing is more chaotic than 5 versions of the same document being passed around and being adjusted.
4. manage your documents in DMS
“I’m looking for that document we used in that meeting, a year ago…” Seems a hopeless task when there is no consistent naming structure or when documents end up in wrong folders. An unstructured folder system is often the culprit when it comes to information overload.
Document Management Systems (DMS) ensure a structured way of storing and archiving documents. Documents in DMS are easy to index, and therefore easy to locate within your folders. This indexation can be done manually or automatically. You can easily create groups to filter the information and assign permission to certain documents or folders. The system provides a clear overview of the changes that have been made in the documents and shows which user has done this. The advantage of this is that there is no danger that an outdated version is accidentally used. Never again will you have to click through 15 folders to realise the document you were looking for isn’t there.
A Document Management System is the perfect warrior against information overload. DMS offer so many opportunities and can be completely tailor-made to the needs of your organisation.