Information Overload

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As difficult as it is to remember what my personal life was like before the Internet and cell phone, I really have no idea how businesses operated prior to the Digital Age.

In today’s workplace, technology is essential to productivity.

It also provides a lot of distractions.

According to business research company Basex, distractions at the workplace are costing the United States $900 billion per year. An article in the New York Times discusses the loss of productivity due to too many emails, cell phone calls and text messages. The article sites a Basex study which found that 28% of a typical information worker’s day is spent on interruptions by things that aren’t important-such as unnecessary emails-and the time it takes to get back on track.

Workers have a lot to deal with these days. RescueTime, a company that analyzes computer habits, found that the typical information worker who sits at a computer all day turns to his e-mail program more than 50 times and uses instant messaging 77 times. This is in addition to visiting 40 websites each day.

With so much going on in our workspace, how are we expected to remain focused and productive? And, it’s only going to get worse. According to the Radicati Group, a technology market research firm, estimated worldwide email traffic will rise from 294 billion per day in 2010 to 419 billion per day in 2012.

Tech companies recognize the problem. In 2008, Microsoft, Intel, Google and I.B.M. formed the Information Overload Research Group, a nonprofit organization. The group studies and drives awareness towards the topic of information overload.

Ideally, technology can be used to combat overload. Tools such as Xobni organize information to make it a little less overwhelming.

A more simple piece of technology is Gmail Labs’ “Email Addict,” which allows users to take a break from email and chat for 15 minutes by blocking the user’s screen. A message pops up that reads, “Take a walk, get some real work done, or have a snack. We’ll be back in 15 minutes!”

A 15-minute reprieve from information overload certainly isn’t going to solve all of your problems, but it might just provide a nice break. And, don’t forget, you can always use the OFF button.

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Xobni’s contact management products offer lightning fast email search and organization of your inbox, as well as an innovative and comprehensive address book for the mobile device.

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