Problem of the Year: Information Overload

Business-consulting firm Basex forecasts a Problem of the Year: Information Overload. It happens when you receive so many low-priority e-mails or phone calls that you can't accomplish important tasks. Basex says in 2006, these interruptions cost the U.S. economy $650 billion.

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STEVE INSKEEP, host:

Even if the device in your pocket is not abuzz with blog updates, it is still likely that you suffer from information overload. That's so true that when it came time for a business consulting firm to name its annual person or a product of the year, it actually decided to forecast a problem for the year to come -information overload.

That's what happens when you receive so many low-priority e-mails or phone calls, you can't accomplish important tasks. The firm says that in 2006, these interruptions caused the U.S. economy $650 billion.

Consultant Mike Song has some solutions. He's co-author of "The Hamster Revolution: How to Manage Your E-mail Before It Manages You."

Mr. MIKE SONG (Co-author, "The Hamster Revolution: How to Manage Your E-mail Before It Manages You"): Disconnect the ding.

(Soundbite of ding)

Mr. SONG: And by that, I mean, anything that makes a noise, any pop-up that occurs while you're getting e-mail. Those really distract you from whatever you were doing before you heard that ding.

(Soundbite of ding)

INSKEEP: Instead of reacting to a constant flow of those little pop-up messages telling you have new mail…

(Soundbite of ding)

INSKEEP: …yeah, like that. Can't stand that. Anyway, you're supposed scheduled time, I suggest maybe a mere twice an hour to check all your mail at once. Song says when you respond to those e-mails, do not automatically hit reply all -adds to the clutter. And you can make use of that subject line putting phrases like…

Mr. SONG: NRN, No Reply Needed. It helps people understand, hey, I'm busy. This is not a bit most important priority for our team. Let's not turn into a lengthy discussion.

INSKEEP: Or there's…

Mr. SONG: NTN, No Thanks Needed. We're hearing from a large number of executives that they're finding it's very frustrated to be thanked for every little thing they do. It's another distraction and another interruption in an otherwise very busy day.

INSKEEP: Things to keep mind next time you want to send a reply all, to thank the team for showing up to a meeting. I want to thank you all for listening to this report.

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