3 Keys to Overcoming Email Overload – Part 4: Poor decision making

This is the 6th in a series of blog posts designed to help you recognise the profound and far-reaching impact email overload has in your life and to offer solutions to help you overcome the challenges it presents.

There are 7 Critical Impacts of Information & Email Overload (get the free Special Report here)

Impact #4: Poor decision making

One of the impacts of information overload is to reduce the mental capacity of knowledge workers. This phenomenon is also known as Attention Deficit Trait (ADT), informal term coined by the psychiatrist Dr. Edward Hallowell.

He asserts that the cognitive impact of Infomania causes people to work well below their full potential; they produce less output, think superficially, and generate fewer new ideas – despite working an increasing number of hours.

There is also evidence from other studies showing an increase in error rates, including errors in management decision–making.

Other research shows that interruptions and distractions can cause a loss of “situational awareness”, requiring cognitive reorientation to restore task situational awareness after the interrupting event. This can also induce errors, rework, forgotten steps, and lowered overall output.

In summary, information and email overload causes poor decision-making as we:

  • become highly selective and ignore a large amount of information or give up and don’t go beyond the first results in many cases
  • need more time to reach a decision
  • make mistakes
  • have difficulties in identifying the relationship between the details and the overall context (black & white thinking – no shades of grey)

So, what can do you about it?

The solutions to this dilemma are those we have identified so far in this blog series;

  • Change default setting from inbox to calendar.
  • Schedule specific times to check your email
  • Turn off email alerts.
  • Don’t try to multi-task email.
  • Single task email by batching

The next blog post will look at the impact of a lack of ‘think time’ resulting from information & email overload

  All the best!