October 20th is Information Overload Awareness Day, a day started by information overload expert Jonathan Spira that calls attention to the problem of information overload and how it impacts both individuals and organizations in the workplace.

Since information overload is a phenomenon that’s not going away anytime soon, perhaps borrowing from another holiday may be in order.  So, I’ve made a list of Information Overload Awareness Day resolutions. 

Hopefully, unlike their New Year’s counterparts, these will actually be useful and easier to keep.

  • No more time in mail jail– According to the Information Awareness Day Study, the average knowledge worker receives 93 email messages per day and many are unnecessary.    So in recognition of the day, I pledge to delete and unsubscribe to unnecessary Google alerts and delete and file emails that have been read each day.  
  • Live…and work in each moment-According to Jonathan Spira, it takes five minutes to get back on track after a mere 30-second interruption.  To fix this, I will eliminate distractions.  For example in the case of conference calls, there have been instances where a well-timed “I agree with the group” or “could you please repeat that” has covered up ill-timed multitasking.  It’s time to focus.
  • Pick up the phone- Composing an email is often more time consuming than just picking up the phone. A quick call is also more personal. (For six months now; I have been either Charles or Alex.  Occasionally, I get an Eric.)  I pledge to stop sending emails when a call with a teammate would suffice. Less email also saves money. According to the Information Overload Awareness Day Study, if every knowledge worker in the United States were to send 10-percent fewer messages, the cost of Information Overload would be reduced by as much as $180 billion per year.

 As William Pollard once said information is a source of learning. But unless it is organized, processed, and available to the right people in a format for decision making, it is a burden, not a benefit.

So, Happy Information Overload Awareness Day! This is a chance to stop and think about what steps you can take to make a change – without even breaking a sweat. Feel free to comment.