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Information Overload

Always-on environments are killing productivity and creativity. They confuse rate of response with quality of response and creative thinking. We urgently need to address this in all workplaces. McKinsey Quarterly has great ideas on how to tackle this and observations worth noting.

The first book they reference was the first I read on this; Peter Drucker’s 1967 classic, The Effective Executive,1 which emphasized that “most of the tasks of the executive require, for minimum effectiveness, a fairly large quantum of time.”

“Drucker’s solutions for fragmented executives—reserve large blocks of time on your calendar, don’t answer the phone, and return calls in short bursts once or twice a day—sound remarkably like the ones offered up by today’s time- and information-management experts.2

Some great comments on productivity:

We tend to believe that by doing several things at the same time we can better handle the information rushing toward us and get more done. What’s more, multitasking—interrupting one task with another—can sometimes be fun. Each vibration of our favorite high-tech e-mail device carries the promise of potential rewards. Checking it may provide a welcome distraction from more difficult and challenging tasks. It helps us feel, at least briefly, that we’ve accomplished something—even if only pruning our e-mail in-boxes. Unfortunately, current research indicates the opposite: multitasking unequivocally damages productivity

For us to solve this, as leaders, we need to develop new communications protocols and filtering strategies. This is worth a read.

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