By now I’ve worked with a long list of companies (both hi-tech and traditional) to help them solve their problems of information overload, which typically focus on email overload as the top priority. These companies tend to fall into two main classes: those who seek a fast fix (I’ll call them “Class 1”), and those who take a longer, deeper view (“Class 2”). The difference has many ramifications at both the I and the R ends of the ROI equation…
Nathan ZeldesThe two classes of organizational email overload engagements
Many people have a “love-hate” relationship with their mindfull inbox. There are times when the sight of yet another notification of yet another email, fills us with dread. In spite of the breathtaking increases to our overall productivity, the email overload that comes with constant connectivity at work has been shown repeatedly in laboratory settings that the influx of email into our working lives increases stress, decreases productivity and makes us unhappy.
The custom of celebrating independence day hasn’t changed in America since 1776, but one thing is definitely different today: when folks get back to work after the long weekend or vacation, they lose the holiday’s festive mood with a harsh reality check when they see the content of their inbox; the anxiety actually begins with the status message/screen as the inbox count is refreshed.
Electronic communications – email, social media, SMS, and so on – are rapidly replacing a good part of human interaction on our planet, and enabling whole new vistas of collaboration. This has its benefits – the ability to work anytime, anywhere, and with anyone, for one. But it also has some drawbacks, and today I want to discuss the problem of human rapport and trust in distributed teams.
Nathan ZeldesHow to create Trust in Global Distributed Teams
Did a huge task just land on your desk leaving you lost in limbo? Is there an important project where you don’t know how to begin? Do you feel the walls closing in and project overload panic starting to kick in?
First of all, breathe! Things are never as crazy as they seem at first glance, and even if they are…a simple solution can be expected.
Eran AbramsonA simple approach to task or project overload
Much effort, time and money go into the production of information, yet consumption is usually free-for-all. The ease of copying and sharing coupled with difficulty to enforce purchasing of digital goods are some of the bases of the “free information” culture. Free information is a blessing for creativity and learning, yet too much information can lead to a sense of overload and reduced personal productivity. In other words, free information comes at the cost of the consumer’s time and attention. These have become the currency of the new media economy.
Daphne RabanInformation Overload Mitigation by Consumption Values Prioritization
Note: in this post I define telecommuting as a knowledge worker working from home part time (usually 1-2 days a week), with the rest of the time done at a company office. Full time work from home, as in freelancing, may be covered in a future post.
Telecommuting is always a hot subject. There are many opinions – some swear by it, others think it the work of the devil.
As an engineer, I prefer observable facts to opinions; and having deployed a successful telecommuting program in a global Fortune 500, I’ve done my part to collect such facts and make my observations. Here is what I learned:
Nathan ZeldesTelecommuting and productivity: pros and cons of working from home
Vilfredo Pareto, who introduced the Pareto principle, never used email.
Small wonder; he died in 1923, having lived a long and fruitful life, noted especially for his contributions to economics. Yet one aspect of Pareto’s thinking is quite relevant to the way I think about email. This is the Pareto principle, also known as the 80-20 rule, found to apply in numerous domains: “80% of a company’s profits come from 20% of its customers”; “80% of the land is owned by 20% of the population” (Pareto’s original observation of 19th century Italy); and so on.
“The computer will never be creative or intelligent by itself; it can only do what we tell it to do.”
I like to call this statement “The Frankenstein clause”: it plays down the primal fear we humans have of our machines getting better than us, then taking over the world. Basically it says, “Move along, folks… Nothing to worry about, we’re the real brains here… These dumb computers will always obey us…”
Nathan ZeldesWhat would Ada Lovelace think of Knowmail?