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Conquering Information Overload for Accountants

Try these techniques to pare down the information you need faster and easier.

Do you have difficulty completing tasks? Are you constantly tired and stressed out? You may be suffering from information overload--and you're not alone. In fact, six out of 10 white-collar workers feel that their work quality has suffered because they are bombarded by information. According to David Shenk's book Data Smog, the typical business manager reads one million words per week, which is the equivalent of one and a half novels every day.

Simply tuning out information noise isn't easy. Our instant gratification society puts a premium on fast access to information and businesses often expect employees to be plugged in around the clock. Some people actually become addicted to checking electronic devices and exhibit physical symptoms such as rapid pulse if they can't access the information stream.

Here are some ways to break information overload patterns and de-stress your life:

  • Unsubscribe from email lists you don't read. Most people subscribe to several lists, yet they delete the emails without reading them. Skip that step and ease the sense of overload.
  • Turn off email notifications and send your phone directly to voicemail when you need to focus on a task. Study after study has shown that the human brain is not built for multitasking. Rather than increasing productivity, doing more than one task actually hampers creativity and decision-making.
  • Send emails only to those who need to act on the information. While it's free to send an email message to everyone you can think of, you'll cut down on your co-workers' overload if you keep these communications targeted. Hopefully, they will return the favor.
  • Take advantage of time-saving tools in office productivity tools such as your email program. Email flags and rules that automatically sort messages into electronic folders reduce the amount of time you have to spend managing information. Host a brown-bag lunch where employees share their best productivity tips and tools.
  • Set the tone for your company. Try to unplug outside normal business hours so your employees don't feel guilty about taking time away from electronic devices to refresh their bodies and minds.

It can be difficult to wean yourself away from the constant stream of information, but doing so can improve your productivity, job satisfaction and health.


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