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Multitasking woman puts an iron to her ear and irons a shirt with a phone to illustrate being overwhelmed

Is there a method to your multitasking?

Want to know how to beat 'infobesity'? Learn more about this worrying media trend and how to combat it.

Modern technology has transformed mobile working. Never again does your train journey or time spent waiting for your 2pm appointment to show up have to be unproductive.

But where is the tipping point? How much information can we absorb in a working day before the words swim before our eyes and we begin to suffer from a disturbing term – ‘Infobesity’?

Worryingly, it isn’t a new phrase, it was popularised by a 1970 book called ‘Future shock’ where author Alvin Toffler argued that the pace of technological change – nearly 45 years ago – was so fast that people were suffering from information overload.

He’s 85 now and a futurist consultant still making pretty astute observations. However, one of his most famous has proved to be very accurate.

According to a University of California study, the average person can consume up to 100,000 words of information in 24 hours. Conservative estimates are that 17 new web pages are published to the internet every second. It’s hard to imagine where an information overload even came from in 1970.

So we claim we are multitasking, which sounds productive but often isn’t. Depending on your preferences, you can filter out the noise and focus on information that matters most to you by:

  • Being honest with yourself – if you’re a procrastinator, information overload is a great excuse but you know if it’s going to help or hinder. Bookmark, park it and read it later when you’ve achieved something.
  • Making a list of priorities – it sounds obvious but it will help you plan your day into deadlines. This will make it clear when you need to focus, and when you can stop and let the information back in.
  • Turning off the pipeline – email and Twitter are fantastic business tools but the constant drip drip can pull you in many different directions. The world won’t end if you only check them on the hour or after you’ve finished a big task.
  • Using technology to beat infobesity – there are a wealth of apps and tricks to collate, schedule, group and filter all the information you need to process during a day. reQall, for instance, keeps check of all your to-do lists and reminders so you don’t have to, while virtual assistant EasilyDo can find, collate and provide you with the information you need when you need it.

(Annnnd... we’ve just added over 350 words to your daily count. Sorry!)

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