You have 15 social media notifications, a bunch of unread emails in your inbox, your boss keeps texting you, and you’re trying to write the recap from the meeting you just left—all while keeping up with world news that impacts your agency’s work. In other words, it’s just another workday in the life of a 21st century human.
While this seems like the new normal, it’s actually a pretty big problem.
We’re not very good at handling all those dings and beeps and whistles all at the same time.
Information overload has crept into our workplaces and permeated every second you have for accomplishing tasks or doing thought work. It’s a common issue we see across many government agencies. Our clients are often dealing with more than they can legitimately handle in a given day and it’s hurting their ability to run their programs and meet their objectives.
Here are some tips and best practices we use to help our knowledge management clients curate their data and manage information overload.
Prioritizing the Right Data for Collection and Curation
Information overload is largely about the volume of data we’re expected to process in a given day. The fact is, not all data should get equal amounts of our attention.
We strongly believe that responsible data curation starts before the data starts coming in. First and foremost, we ask our clients: what data would actually influence your decision-making? If information won’t really influence your decision-making, why would you collect it?
By asking critical questions from the get-go, you set yourself up for greater success. We find that down the road, you can lose a lot of valuable time sifting through unnecessary data. People tend to think data storage is cheap because it’s everywhere. They’ll say, “Oh, let’s store this data, just in case!” But when you store all that extraneous data, you’re only making things harder to find later on. You can’t find what you need, you have to spend extra time looking for it, and soon your “cheap” storage isn’t so cheap anymore because you’re wasting person-hours.
If you organize information wisely as it’s coming in, you’ll save money, and you won’t feel buried by that information later.
Consuming Data One Bite at a Time Manages Information Overload
Have you ever heard the old joke, how do you eat an elephant? Well, the answer turns out to be a pretty good recommendation for dealing with elephant-sized collections of information, too.
We recommend our clients serve up their data in manageable chunks or find tools that help them automate data processes. Remember how we said people aren’t very good at dealing with the volume of information coming at us? Automated tools are critical, and Tesla Government has a wealth of experience helping government customers find the right tools for their mission, including:
- Knowledge Management Systems: A key component of any task is having the right tools to get it done. You wouldn’t try to edit a photo in a word processing platform or write something in a photo-editing platform. Data is no different. Having a purpose-built platform for organizing, accessing, and sharing data makes a world of difference. And if you’re not sure it’s time to jump on a KMS just yet, we can help you figure out when to set up a knowledge management system of your own.
- Data visualization: Once you’ve chosen the data you want to keep, and have broken it into bite-sized pieces, you still have to use that data to communicate. If you’re fighting information overload on your own team, why would you then turn around and do the same thing to your clients? Using visuals for communicating information works a lot better for understanding data.
Ongoing Knowledge Management: Not Just One and Done
Just because you thought ahead and sorted your data once doesn’t mean the curation process is over. You’ll have more information coming in on a weekly or even hourly basis, and continuing to prioritize and sort will keep your teams from getting bogged down.
You may also need to reprioritize as you go along. The data you chose and sorted a certain way in 2017 may not make sense for your missions in 2019. Priorities shift, and our data curation needs to shift with them.
Information Overload Getting You Down?
We can help alleviate the strain.