For the last three years, our friends at Basex have marked October 20 on the calendar “Information Overload Awareness Day,” a day to draw attention to the the consequences — both financial and personal — of living in a world with more information than we can consume, assess and put into action.

I hazard to guess that you are all too aware of information overload in your personal and professional lives. What you may not be aware of, however, are the exorbitant business costs in time and money of information overload and the wasted efforts of the information professionals who arm people with the most recent and relevant information to drive business results. What’s more, you should know that we now have the technology and proven processes to deal with this problem better than we ever have before. But first, let’s dive into the financial impact of accepting the status quo and resigning ourselves to live uncomfortably in a digital landfill.

Overload! by Jonathan SpriaIn Overload! How Too Much Information Is Hazardous to Your Organization, Jonathan Spira, CEO and chief analyst at Basex, offers these staggering stats to illustrate the impact of what boils down to, in my humble opinion, inefficient communication practices and tools.

Fast Stats from Overload!

  • A minimum of 28 billion hours is lost each year to Information Overload in the United States.
  • Reading and processing just 100 e-mail messages can occupy over half of a worker’s day.
  • It takes five minutes to get back on track after a 30-second interruption.
  • For every 100 people who are unnecessarily copied on an e-mail, eight hours are lost.
  • 58 percent of government workers spend half the workday filing, deleting, or sorting information, at an annual cost of almost $31 billion dollars.
  • 66 percent of knowledge workers feel they don’t have enough time to get all of their work done.
  • 94 percent of those surveyed have felt overwhelmed by information at some point to the point of incapacitation.

As you digest these data points, remember, there is actually something you can  do to reduce the personal and business impact of information overload. And it starts with giving yourself a moment to think before you act.

In addition to the Basex challenge to think before you send in an effort to get people to send 10% fewer e-mail messages, starting October 20th (or sooner!), I would also suggest taking a broader look at the problem beyond email to assess your ability to have an even greater impact.

In addition to the use, and some say overuse, of existing communication tools such as email, information overload also reflects a missing set of technology-enabled processes to organize, filter, and intelligently deliver relevant information and knowledge to the individuals who need it.

You can get greater context from Attensa here, and in the Attensa White paper Reducing Information Overload in the Enterprise, but the bottom line is: You can lessen the impact of information overload and at the same time take advantage of the plethora of information available on the topics you need to follow by using the right tools.

This week and in the weeks to follow, decide that information overload is a problem that you can no longer accept and seek out the people, processes and technologies that can help you do something about it.

Here’s what we are doing at Attensa. If you like what you see and want to learn more,  let me know.