Dealing with the digital overload: How to be more productive

Digital Overload in the workplace

The phrase ‘information overload’ is bandied about a lot, and can easily be dismissed as trivial – but increasingly it is starting to take a toll on our mental and physical well- being, in and out of the workplace.

Further to last week’s article on how to manage the overload of information, here are some further pointers’ to help you handle technology effectively. Dealing with the digital overload to be more productive in the workplace, is a continual challenge. I discovered this article by Manoush Zomorodi, which I’ve extracted some key pointers from, to try and save you time :0)

He gives some great pointers, on ‘Dealing with the Digital Overload’:

‘1) Set an information goal

Psychological research has shown that setting goals also helps us remember the information we take in. Your goal might be to be more in tune with yourself, more creative, more knowledgeable about a specific skill or subject, more connected with family and friends, or more up to date on the news. Whichever one you pick, it can serve as a filter in helping you be more choosy about the media you take in.

Filtering this way leaves us with information on a consistent theme, or “schema,” as Dr Daphna Shohamy, professor of psychology at Columbia University, explains. This can help people more easily make connections between ideas and “is something that we know is really helpful for memory“…

2) Give up on multi-tasking

Lots of people pride themselves on being good multi-taskers. It’s also a complete myth.

“You’re not actually doing four or five things at once, because the brain doesn’t work that way,” neuroscientist Daniel Levitin told me in an interview for the podcast. Even though it may not feel that way, our executive system can only truly focus on doing one thing at a time. “Instead, you’re rapidly shifting from one thing to the next, depleting neural resources as you go.”

So rather than dart back and forth between email, Word, Twitter and a blinking messenger or chat window, make an active choice to do one thing at a time. You may discover, as many of my participants did, that tasks they previously found tough to get through not only went faster but felt easier to do.

3) Organize your apps

Take a cue from Marie Kondo, author of The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, and delete any apps that don’t bring you joy. Then take the remaining apps and move them into a single folder on your phone. You’ll have to open the apps by searching for them by name. That means whenever you want to check the latest sports scores or scroll through Instagram, you’ll have to make an active decision to do so—rather than simply tapping through because you saw the app on your phone.

4) Discuss something you’ve heard, read, or watched with another person—for at least 7 minutes

Too often, technology seems to isolate us from one another rather than allowing us to forge connections. One way to push back against this phenomenon is to use our media consumption as fodder for real-life conversation. So grab a colleague and debate a thought piece, marketing strategy, latest news headline or analyze Beyoncé’s latest music video. And even if the conversation hits a lull, stick it out—according to psychologist Sherry Turkle, it takes at least 7 minutes to find out whether a conversation is going to be interesting or worthwhile. 


Hopefully these 4 simple steps will prove effective for you, in keeping on top of it all. I for one have already removed those apps that just clutter my screen and feel better for it. Time is precious.

Government Executive website:
‘Small Changes in Your Digital Routine Can Make You Smarter–and More Sane’, Manoush Zomorodi

The Observer: Why the modern world is bad for your brain, Daniel  J Levitin


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