Remember when the internet was first introduced in the 90’s as a workplace tool? Online time was so expensive, it was meted out in minutes. Users would design word searches in advance so they could find information quickly, download it, and log off. Reading online was a luxury and a waste of monthly minutes. Not long after that, the internet became readily available in schools and homes. It became a part of daily life and we turned into information hounds. Today, many of us carry the worldwide web around in our pockets, unconscious of the numbers of hours expended on reading and sending messages and feeding our curiosity.
We no longer have to wait for answers. Need to compare the cost of living in Ottawa with that of Winnipeg? Google it. Want to know fuel ratings for the top 3 cars sold last year? Bing can help.
We’ve saved a few bucks here and there, as well. When’s the last time you purchased a reference manual for anything? Or a magazine? I know books and magazines aren’t totally dead – but their sales have been significantly reduced by the instant online availability of e-zines and e-books.
With all this time and money saved, you’d think our leisure time would have increased and employee productivity would be twice what it was ten years ago. Not so. The cost for all this progress is information overload. We’re weighed down by too much information. How many email messages do you get each day? The average number of email messages received last year was 5579 per person.
The next time you’re tempted to research a new topic or open a dozen email messages, remind yourself of your most important objectives. Ruthlessly delete information that isn’t serving you. Fight the impulse to take it all in, to hoard it in files on your hard drive that will take you time to organize but may never be used.
We can help others, as well. Can you send fewer email messages? Or perhaps hold back from entering additional email addresses in the cc field? When it comes to information, more isn’t necessarily better.