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Managing Information Overload - 10 May 2013

Getting A Grip with Robyn Pearce CSP (The Time Queen)

This morning at our May Admirals’ Breakfast Club meeting, we had the pleasure of Robyn Pearce (‘The Time Queen’) speaking to us about ‘Managing Information Overload’.


Many of us are finding ourselves totally submerged in the ‘Information Overload’ era, so it’s even more important now for us to get back on track and take control.  With this objective in mind, Robyn shared some great time management/productivity tips with us including:

  • Don’t make email your first priority of the day unless it’s time critical.
  • Begin your day focusing on high value projects first and allocate blocks of time in your day to complete them.
  • Turn off ‘alerts’ on your emails to avoid distractions.
  • Include as part of your email signature that you only check emails between certain times of the day, and outside of that time, you can be contacted by phone.  In that way, it allows you to dedicate quality time away from your emails to complete the high value projects.
  • Don’t contribute to ‘Information Overload’.  Think about “Do I really need to send an email”, “Do I really need to copy in other people in my email”, and “Can I discuss the matter with the person instead?”
  • Reduce internal emails.  Implement a reduced email week for everyone in the workplace.
  • Manage noise;  thus, increasing productivity.  Position your quiet workers in one area of the office, and your noisy workers in another.
  • If you have an open plan environment, heighten the partitions to avoid your workers from constantly being distracted.
  • Encourage workers who are in an open plan environment to use a meeting room or to work offsite to complete high value projects.  Quality will be higher, and productivity will be faster.
  • Avoid multi-tasking.  Multi-tasking is known to reduce productivity as the brain constantly switches from one task to another.  While it sounds good to multi-task, studies have shown that a worker loses about 10-15 minutes between tasks in the process.  By the end of the week, that is a considerable amount of lost productivity.  Instead work on tasks consecutively and productivity will increase.
  • Think about time management not as ‘time’ management, but rather as ‘energy’ management.  It’s all about effectively managing your day to preserve your energy.  That’s why it’s important to start your day working on the high value projects first when your energy levels are highest.
  • And lastly, it’s OK to say “No”.  “No” is actually your most powerful time management tool.

If anyone is planning an office re-fit to include open plan, you might just want to re-consider that plan.  According to ‘The Time Queen’, overseas studies have revealed that workers in open plan are generally less productive, are more prone to absenteeism, and most workers did not enjoy working in an open plan environment giving the reasons that include:  greater distractions; hard to concentrate; too noisy; and less harmonious, particularly, if there are co-worker conflicts.  In addition, studies revealed that workers were more prone to high blood pressure.

‘The Time Queen’ cited an example of a worker who was so frustrated at being constantly interrupted during the day working in an open plan environment that she took the proactive step of moving into a small room with a door which could be best described as the size of a cupboard.  It might seem an extreme step, but this worker later proved to her company that her productivity had doubled, simply by being able to shut her door when needed, allowing her to fully concentrate on projects without constant interruptions.  A great story.  So to any company who thinks open plan is the answer to save money, think again.  The cost to the company long-term in reduced productivity can be extreme.

It’s not surprising that Robyn Pearce has helped thousands of people around the world improve their income and find more time to enjoy life.  It’s now time to implement her great advice.


Karen Meldrum, COO'EE

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