How To Avoid Information Overload - Management
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SECTION: Management

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How To Avoid Information Overload

Written By Dale Collie

Article Date: 01-01-2005
Copyright (C) 2005 Associated Equipment Distributors. All Rights Reserved.

And increase productivity with technology.

Information overload causes a lot of workplace stress - email, voice mail, Internet connections, electronic reports, digital images, cell phones, text messages, pagers, PDA reminders, laptops, power point programs, recorders, MP3 players, bridge lines, video conferences, teleseminars, and more. How do savvy leaders sort through the noise and capture exactly what they need to succeed?

We've always had more information than we could possibly digest. Technology has helped us overcome the traditional problem of finding the data we need, and technology can help us control and access knowledge in ways to make it meaningful.

Good leaders and managers are all knowledgeable of technology resources. They surround themselves with experts if they cannot embrace the entire scope of their assets, just as they depend on experts in finance, sales, and manufacturing.

Successful leaders don't suffer information overload, because they know how to manage data as well as they know how to manage any other aspect of business. It's safe to say managers who do suffer information overload are actually victims of technology "underload" - an inability to keep up with the tools available.

Every good leader must be willing to be prepared in these areas.Not every company can have the latest in hardware and software, but do you know what's being used in your own company and among your customers, competitors and suppliers? Get a complete list of what's working and what's not. Get your own experts to brief you and everyone else in your organization.

Tools To Acquire
Misunderstanding available technology is a primary cause of technology underload. How can you use the tools if you don't even understand the tools that have been invented? Subscribe to technical journals and listen to the experts.
After you know your tools and what's available, you need to decide which hardware and software you should acquire. Buying the wrong equipment will increase your technology underload instead of bringing you up to speed. You'll be stressed with the expenditure and the results. Get good advice. It isn't free.

Discomforting Technology
Not everyone is comfortable with learning new technology, but long gone are the days when people jokingly described themselves as being computer illiterate. Most people have learned to avoid such statements because they know their careers are on the line. Overcome your aversions and increase self-confidence by learning more about the tools and how they can make your job easier.

Once you understand the tools you have, you'll need to get competent training on what they are designed for and how to use them. Both hardware and software provide everything you need to do the job, but it's up to you to learn how to turn the knobs and punch the buttons. Get professional training for the people responsible for getting the job done, and learn enough to know how to challenge them.

Do It Yourself
Make your needs known. Most companies will pay for the training. If corporate training is just not available, invest in your own education. You'll improve your performance and your value to the company while alleviating the perceived information overload.

Contact Management
PDAs and computer software such as ACT! can alleviate your feeling of overload. These tools help you note the who, what, when, where, why, and how of all transactions. Give up trying to remember everything and rely on these contact managers. Make the investment yourself, if your company won't or can't.

Don't limit your communications to email. Educate yourself on how to use e-zines, newsletters, web sites, blogs, bridge lines, web cams, teleseminars, webinars, meeting scheduler, mail merging, text messaging, email to hard copy delivery, e-postcards, and instant messaging.

Get the latest and best in spam filters, anti-virus programs, and firewalls. Hide your computer from others when you search the web, and wipe your computer clean with a program to eliminate tracking cookies and spyware - a lot to learn; just tackle them one at a time. For dozens of ways you can jump ahead, search Google for e-communications.

Research Tools
There's no reason to be uninformed on any subject now that so much information is posted on the Internet. You can research anything, from molecular biology to art and architecture, from lesson plans to homework.
Use the free search tools such as Google and Yahoo! If they don't meet your needs, buy into special data banks such as Start with and explore these areas of technology or a field of interest on the web. Your challenge won't be finding the information; it will be deciding which information is reliable.

Conference Tools
Bridge lines are the modern-day conference calls. Everyone concerned calls a designated number and gains access with a pin number that you provide. Caller participation can be set for lecture, limited voice access, or a free-for-all. You can make recordings for distribution of the entire call. The number of participants and length of calls depends on the program. Find out about this technology by searching Google for telephone bridge lines.

Collaboration Tools
It's no longer necessary for team members to gather in a room to get the job done. The Internet and other e-communication tools permit meetings from around the world. One site shows more than 50 tools available for putting great minds together.

Search Google for "collaboration tools" + vendors (use the quotation marks and plus sign as shown). You'll find more than 275,000 sites with the exact tools you need for corporate, academic, or social collaboration. Missing out on this type of collaboration is like throwing away a winning lottery ticket.

Get the tools and get the training. If you're stressed from information overload or technology underload, the only thing holding you back is a willingness to embrace the hardware and software available.

You don't need the most expensive or the newest, but you do need to get started. Do whatever is necessary to expand your knowledge and ability, or you'll find yourself left behind.


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Article Categories:  Information Technology  »  Management