Infoglut: Information Overload and Average White Collar

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1 The scale of the problem
If it isn't announced by a ring, beep, or flash, or your telephone it's delivered to your front desk by a person in a uniform. If it isn’t spat out by a machine that looks like a printer, but takes phone calls; it’s transmitted to your PC, announced perhaps by a little toot of arrival. Welcome to the Age of Infoglut. Every day, managers are deluged by E-mails, faxes, post, voicemail. Just sorting everything out adds hours and extra stress to a working week. One British psychologist claims to have identified a new mental disorder caused by too much information; he calls it Information Fatigue Syndrome.

2 The causes of information overload
Of course, companies have a huge appetite for information, and have encouraged the development of systems to produce, store, and analyze it. A recent study by Pitney Bowes, in Stamford, Connecticut, found that the average white – collar worker at a Fortune 1000 company sends and receives an average of 190 messages a day, in a variety of electronic and paper formats. "It has become completely overwhelming," says Sheryl Battles, executive director of external affairs at Pitney Bowes. She reported that trying to manage the volume of information was redefining productivity in the workplace. In a knowledge economy, the real goal is to get through all the messages." The infoglut has especially affected senior-level executives», adds Battles. More than ever, managers need strategies for identifying and prioritizing.

3 When in doubt, ask the boss
E-mail is a primary culprit. In the past, lower-level workers would never have dreamed of interrupting the Chief Finance Officer with simple questions, such as whether hotel movies can be expensed. «Today, however, those workers have no problem asking such questions via E-mail, which is perceived to be less intrusive», says Battles. It should be noted, however, that some executives have turned E-mail to their advantage, finding in the medium a new and...
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