AI is the ominous presence of this century. Artificial Intelligence, looming over us like Frankenstein’s monster. While some fear that our future is in the Matrix, others hope for more of an “I, Robot” version. With three highly principled laws that protect all that is human from any possible harm (including emotional harm). Elon Musk would have you believe we’re already living in a simulation.
The fascination with AI often lingers in our minds because the possibilities seem endless. And various implementations of AI are becoming more and more affordable. Startups can already use AI to play around and figure new ways to boost productivity.
As fast-paced and technology driven as the modern workplace might be, distractions and interruptions still manage to keep us still, slowing down our productivity. “Friendly” notifications that pop up everywhere and at any time, teammates who constantly ask for help or feedback, the continuous battle for balance between being able to do our job and working together with the team for a common purpose — known as teamwork — all that puts enormous pressure on our work and focus.
Productivity and being productive. It’s a modern issue. Ideas come and go. They’re a dime a dozen. Having the idea is only 1 percent of the issue. Putting the work in, that’s an entirely different matter. Getting your team to be maximally productive, even more so. It’s tougher than ever to get everything done
Staying focused is tough. Studies show that even experienced meditators find it hard to maintain focus. And many of them meditate thinking of nothing. Imagine how tough it is to focus at work. Jokes aside, focus is a serious issue that equates into billions in lost productivity every year. And this is simple to understand.
Every work day finds us focusing on our projects, striving to meet deadlines and finish tasks before we leave the office. But that’s not all we do, is it? We also spend a lot of time helping teammates who need our advice and input. Most often, we’re eager to help. But at the end of the day, when we realize we didn’t meet that deadline or we’re not even half way through that critical task, we have mixed feelings. Helping teammates felt good, but it took too much of our time and energy, and we neglected our work.
So, what motivates us to jump in and help, and how can we do it while staying productive?
Do you feel in control of your time, or does the day take you by storm? The challenge many people face is in taking the day reactively as it comes, instead of proactively preparing for it. To get the most out of our working hours, we must be strategic in organizing our time, and of course vigilant in executing our plan.
Every day we deal with whirlwinds of texts, emails, tweets, never-ending streams of Facebook articles and viral videos, personal posts on various platforms, and more. Specialists have a name for this daily challenge; they call it “information overload”. But how much insight can we really gain from this vertiginous information flow we’re constantly exposed to?
In The Information Diet: A Case for Conscious Consumption, American technologist Clay Johnson estimates that “we spend up to 11 hours out of every 24 in a state of constant consumption, gorging on information ceaselessly spewed from screens and speakers we hold dear.”
If this is the time we spend processing information one way or another, then the amount of data we are dealing with on a daily basis is bigger than we can imagine. The question is how much data is mere information and how much is knowledge?
Food for clueless thought
The thought of spending 11 hours a day filtering texts, instant messages, phone calls, emails, downloads, videos, status updates and tweets makes you pause over how much time and energy you’ve got left for absorbing relevant information and converting it into knowledge. Not much, right?
In his article, Could the Evening News Be Bad for Your Health? The Dangers of Information Overload, William J. Lynott reminded us that our ability to gather and deliver information has increased greatly since the 17th century, but the brain’s ability to absorb and process it has not changed since the days of the cave man. Yet, we allow ourselves to be bombarded with endless incoming flows of information, forcing our brain into a “breaking news” mode constantly focused on:
storing it into temporary files
identifying the noise in it
then deleting it to make room for
the storage of relevant information
Growing knowledge only comes afterwards and, somewhere along the way of this 5-step process, things tend to get confusing. Because people often misinterpret mere information for knowledge. And when the intake of useless information gets too large, we are often left clueless.
It’s filter failure
Let’s see how information overload translates in the workplace – a common context for information fatigue caused by massive information sent back and forth in person or using communication technology. Besides the daily ping pong of facts and essential data between individuals and teams, there’s a lot of jibber-jabber which passes off as information. In consequence, our brain gets exhausted from trying to figure out what we need to know and what we can ignore.
For one thing, communication technology is here to stay. You simply can’t do without it, not in the modern workplace. So, the question is what would you prefer: lack of information or too much information? I go for the latter, and I’m not the only one. In his acclaimed book Here Comes Everybody on the power of organizing without organizations, Clay Shirky said it’s not information overload, it’s filter failure.
Ironically, the way I see it, communication technology plays a dual role particularly in the workplace: enabler vs. savior. On the one hand, it enables the assault of information by allowing people to share any type of information, on any channel they want, at any time – on many occasions oblivious of your interest in the information shared. On the other hand, it provides people with the tools to steer communication flows and filter out the noise triggered by excessive information loudly brought to your attention by endless notifications and alerts.
Let Hubgets filter the noise
Filtering data flowing down communication channels does not mean curating data automatically – we’re not there yet. What we can do is filter the noise made by information in excess. The reason is simple. Not every piece of information we receive needs our attention or is relevant for us. So, if we pay attention to every incoming message or phone call, only to discover they were not that important, we’ve already absorbed useless information that will leave little room and time for storing actual knowledge.
Information fatigue, as I’ve experienced it, diverts your attention from essential data, leads to loss of focus, fuels an incapacity to stick to one task and makes you frustrated at the constant interruptions created by new information constantly coming in. In short, it messes with your productivity, stealing your time at work and delaying your end-results.
It would be unrealistic to say Hubgets eradicates information overload. Communication technology cannot control the amount or quality of information you’re being sent, but it can hand you the power to decide how much information you’re willing to absorb. Hubgets does that by allowing you to deal with data in two stages of the communication process: when bombarded by information overload and when converting relevant information into knowledge.
Whenever you find yourself swamped by jibber-jabber or irrelevant data, you can put a filter on top of it. You can identify the channels with a distraction factor and you can pause the overload. When you’re curating the information received, you can put a tag on it – your own personal filter that will help you store and, later on, locate the knowledge acquired.
Buffer information overload
Hubgets lets you to discard excessive information on your own terms. You can set Hubgets to buffer excessive information so that you can deal with it when you have the time and energy.
For example, you can set your status to Busy and this will stop pop-up notifications on incoming direct messages, phone calls, Topic updates, and file transfers. While notifications on possibly irrelevant information are buffering, you get to focus on what’s important for you. This doesn’t mean you’re putting up communication barriers. Phone calls get transferred to your voicemail, messages, updates and file transfers get through without distracting you from your work. You can prevent unfiltered information from taking a hold of your time, without disconnecting.
Answering emails and phone calls, sending feedback, attending meetings – if this is the kind of situation you face every day, you’ll be happy to know there’s a better, more productive way to communicate with your team. Let’s see how you can gain more control of your time and reduce the number of disturbing factors.
Get more done and limit unnecessary distractions at work 🙂 We all agree that is important. And it’s not just because we work more than half of our waking hours, but also due to the amount of time we spend not doing our actual job. We put in less time writing, creating, coding, designing, or whatever we’re good at than sitting in meetings, emailing, briefing and debriefing, giving feedback. All in all, we spend a lot of time doing everything we can so that, at the end of the day, the whole team is on the same page.
There’s a very good reason why I zone out when I have something to finish fast. That reason is usually associated with an annoying voice, but today it was associated with puppy eyes. Seriously, I feel that this is the best strategy to undermine a team’s focus under deadline. Enter #uberPuppies!