Information overload

Date posted: October 31, 2013

Economists and business experts recognize that access to information is important. For example, if you are a company, information about your customers as well as about your costs is vital to being more successful. But can a person or a business ever have too much information, so much that it is actually counterproductive? N.C. State University economist Mike Walden responds.

“That’s a very good question, and I think more and more, people are answering that question affirmatively. I mean if you consider the fact that we now have e-mail, we now have text messages; we obviously have access to many, many websites, even if all you’re doing is accessing those places for work — that is, you’re not surfing the web for play, but you’re accessing websites that are relative to your work, and you’re looking at e-mail and text messages relative to your work — many people say they can spend all day simply doing that, and they don’t have time to do anything else.

“So I think information management — that’s now a phrase that you’re hearing more and more – is important. And there are some guidelines that experts suggest. One is obviously to take your messages — your information — and categorized them in terms of things you must do now, information you must access now, information you can wait to access, or junk.  And obviously, get rid of the junk.

“Second, they say limit the amount of time that you’re going to designate to accessing information and make sure that you free up time for the other things that you need to do in your job.

“Thirdly, consider delegating information management to others or perhaps the software programs that can organize this information for you. I think the key here is to be very efficient and focus on efficiency in terms of using all of the information that’s available to us.”

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