Cognitive overload: 15 ways to reduce it (free PDF)

If you’re being barraged with massive volumes of data and a million daily interruptions, it’s hard to parse your way through to productivity. This ebook offers suggestions for tuning out some of the noise, preserving your sanity, and boosting your effectiveness.

From the ebook:

The pace of data creation steadily increases as technology becomes more and more ingrained in people’s lives and continues to evolve.

According to last May, “there are 2.5 quintillion bytes of data created each day at our current pace, but that pace is only accelerating with the growth of the Internet of Things (IoT). Over the last two years alone 90 percent of the data in the world was generated.”

While technology should make our lives easier, the information it provides can negatively impact our mental function by overwhelming us with too much input.

However, don’t confuse cognitive overload with work overload. Whereby work overload is simply having too much to do and not enough time to complete it, cognitive overload refers to having too much information to process at once.

Fouad ElNaggar, co-founder and CEO of Sapho, an employee experience software provider based in San Bruno, CA, is passionate about cognitive overload. Together we developed some tips for workers on how to fix the problem.

Close/shut off distracting applications
The irony of productivity applications is that they can actually make you less productive. Microsoft Office includes Outlook, an email application, which can “helpfully” notify you when new email arrives.

Sadly, this can also contribute to your information overload if you’re in the middle of a task and you switch to Outlook to read an email. You might even forget about the task you’re currently working on. Instant messaging apps or frankly, anything that dings or pops up an alert are just as distracting. When trying to stay focused on a task, close or shut off any applications that could serve as potential distractions. Oh, and silence your phone, too.

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