How to survive in the information jungle?

In today’s world, a lot of people feel overwhelmed by the many sources of information. In their jobs and private lives as well. You have to look at several different apps on your smartphone or web services on your computer.

Looking at my Slack client, there are eight different spaces. This means eight different places where different people message me. Next to this, there are three mailboxes, two mobile number, Teams, Skype and WhatsApp. Without doubts, I’ve forgotten something. Sounds important, right? Not really. Maybe unorganized? Nah, I would say no. All these are different ways to communicate for customers, colleagues, business partners, friends, or family.

For everyone, it is crucial to reach me for totally different reasons. But nobody is aware of my schedule, my current workload, or just how I’m feeling today. It is up to me to decide how important something is to mine!

How relevant is a piece of information to me

Before we start working on a message, a missed call, or any information we received, we should stop for a second and think about the Eisenhower method.

This method helps us to cluster a piece of information we receive:

In most cases, we only need a second to decide to which of the categories a message belongs. The categorization is not fixed and can vary from one day to another. If your workload is not that heavy today, a Slack message from your colleague is more important to you than yesterday before an important customer meeting.

Do you want to deep dive into the Eisenhower method? Look here!

When is the best time to react

Most of my information belongs to category B or in other words, important, but not now.

2min principle

If I have some minutes of free time and category A messages are done, I try to filter the category B messages again with the following question: Can I answer this message in 2 minutes? If so, I answer right away. If not, sorry to the author, my loved snoozing function steps into the game.

The snoozing function

Gladly the tools where I receive the most information can snooze a specific message. Snooze the message to the next day or just for one hour. The message is not unread anymore, and I receive a short notification that there was a message I should take a look at.

There are two situations where the snoozing feature can help a lot:

  • You need this information at a specific point in time. For example, for a meeting. Just snooze the message a reasonable time before the event the message belongs to.
  • You know that you have a slot of free time in the near time. Snooze the message to this free slot. After working on category A and the 2min messages, you have some time to work on these important messages.

How to react

Does a voice message always be answered with a call or is a short message also okay? Or do you feel that something is not clear enough while messaging with someone? Give him a call!

A lot of people do not think about the question of how important their information is to you. That’s why often they choose whatever comes into their mind. Is it up to you to select the channel which fits the best for you at the moment of answering! Depending on your situation (being in a meeting) and the channel you think provides the best result for you.

Inbox zero

If you want to dive deep, there are excellent articles about the zero inbox principle. For example, here.

TL;DR: At the end of your day, your inbox should contain no e-mail anymore. Same applies for any way people can reach out to you: Slack, Teams voicemails, and so on.

Having messages in your inbox will always lead to the little man in the back of your head who reminds you all day long: Messages are waiting for you.

Sorry to all people with hundreds of even thousands of messages on various channels: I don’t get it…

How often looking for new messages

I think this question varies a lot from person to person. I look pretty often for new messages, maybe a little bit too often. But mostly I know that other people depend on my answer for their work. Which makes it important and urgent for me. I’m interested in a good workflow on their end.

For some people deactivating all kings of notifications on the smartphone and notebook can help to reduce the noise. If you take a look every hour, it is sometimes a little bit easier to follow the Eisenhower method. Sometimes messages are obsolete because the information is not relevant for you anymore.

Bonus: A short hint for holidays

This advice is quick and straightforward: Delete all the apps from your smartphone! Slack, G-Mail, Teams, and all the rest. If you have a separate company phone. Leave it at home. Same goes for your notebook.

Reinstalling the apps will only take some minutes after your return from holiday. This is no real reason for not deleting the apps.

Having all the apps on your phone will lead you to the point where you open the app. Just because of your daily routine.

I hope these ideas can help someone to tackle the daily flood of information from everywhere. Any other tips or ideas? Let me know in the comments!

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