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If you’re like the majority of today’s professionals, you’re probably unable to control the daily invasion of emails that bombard your inbox. Now, you can stop asking yourself “why me”? You’ve got a bad case of information overload.

Information overload is the result of an over-consumption of information, whether it’s done on purpose or not. In our modern society, everything is moving faster and faster, we are all hyper-connected, and thanks to the Internet, we have access to a continuous stream of information. Individuals can no longer cope because we’re at war with a never-ending mass of information.

Why are we over-informed?

Lets start by asking yourself just how much information you are put in contact with every day? I’m talking about your email, web, television, radio, smartphone… the list is almost never ending.

The second that we log on to our information portals, we’re forced to prioritize each piece of information, even before we see what they are about. But where should I start, with which tools, and most importantly, how long is it going to take?

All these questions remain unanswered because we have fallen into a daily ritual and we’ve become numb to just how much of a pain it really is.

Information overload your inbox

Out of all the different info cannons pointed in your direction, email is the biggest problem. Unfortunately, you can’t turn off your inbox. You’re forced to go through it every day, because there is vital information buried deep down the clutter.

The term used to classify this problem is “workplace informational overload”. According to studies performed by the McKinsey Global Institute, the management of your email inbox requires 650 work hours per year!

Did you know that every second, 3.4 million emails are sent? That’s 107,000 billion emails per year. It’s not the emails fault; it’s the way people have decided to use it.

The tools that we use to communicate are no longer capable of handling this massive volume of information. Therefore, we need to rethink the way we use these tools, so that we can use email for its original function: sending a message. We’ve strayed so far away from the path that now, email is used to delegate tasks.

I have an unanswered, email etiquette question that’s tortured me since I started using computers: How do I know when the email conversation is over, and do I need to send a last email stating that I acknowledge the end of the conversation, re-thanking the person on the other end for the 1000th time?

The consequences of misusing email can be extremely costly for individuals and businesses alike.

We are constantly letting important data slip away because it’s simply getting lost in the sea of useless information. We spend about 25% or our work day classifying our inbox according to this Basex study. That doesn't leave much time to organize our actual work, which quickly becomes a real challenge.

For example, if you are one of us who receives more than 100 professional emails a day, how much time do you spend sorting them? Do you have multiple email addresses? What will you actually do with the majority of this information? The problem is that tomorrow, there’ll be another 100 emails to deal with. It’s an endless circle bringing you back to inbox hell every morning.

We all suffer from different levels of information overload. Too much information kills information, it is detrimental to our work environment and our organizational capacity.

Collaborative Work: the cure for information overload

It’s absolutely necessary to analyse the way we work, and we need to start using new tools to help get us organized. Using a collaboration platform allows you to control your inbox and reduce the flow of email from your co-workers (inside your organization or with external partners).

Email is replaced by dedicated discussion spaces where messages are pre-sorted according to their topics and objectives. You won’t spend another minute on information organization: the platform does all of the work for you!

The goal of a collaborative management tool is to supercharge our organization and our communication at work. Email is still effective for certain exchanges, but as soon as there are multiple people involved in the discussion, the message becomes confusing and cumbersome.

To collaborate effectively with co-workers, everyone must be in sync. The conversation, plus all the information included (documents, files, notes, etc.), must be in one place. Azendoo is a teamwork tool that allows you to refocus and contextualize your informational exchanges to improve all aspects of collaboration.

The benefits seem to be endless. Firstly, you’ll reduce your volume of email right away. Plus, Azendoo is a SaaS, which means you’ll have access to your homepage from any device. In the end, a collaborative business is a company where ideas and achievements of individuals are highlighted, where hierarchy is not vertical but horizontal. A collaborative company is an organization that’s been able to cure information overload, involve everyone in decisions, exchange in real-time and be more… well, Zen.

To illustrate this, we’ll use the organization of a birthday party for example: You have a guest list, a theme and a list of things that need to get done. If you use email and phoning to invite everyone you end up running all over the place for their confirmations… we have all been there! You explain to each person, one by one, the theme of the event, the location, what to bring, what not to bring, etc.

Then you assign tasks to people who are helping: Michael brings pizza, Lisa takes care of beer, Tim picks up the cake, etc.

After a few days, even if you’ve done everything right, you’ve created your own informational overload and it’s likely that you’ve lost track of who should do what, what has been done, and if the clown has already been called. When D-Day comes, we just cross our fingers and pray that it works itself out.

The good news; It can be easier. If you use a collaboration application, you can invite everyone in the same space, with the same message.

You can tell everyone about the theme and even vote on it if you’re not sure. You can literally assign tasks that can be seen by everyone. That way, everyone is on the same page, and organizing the party practically takes care of itself.

What makes it so different? All the information is in one place and organized by the application. You don’t need to remind people of anything, they can find it themselves right on their homepage.

Now, you’re organized and you master the information, not the other way around!

Fred is Azendoo CMO. She focuses her work on Azendoo Users and on finding the best productivity hacks. Besides, she's all about snowboard, couture and books.
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