Do you ever get so overwhelmed with information that you end up procrastinating on all the things you should be doing to be productive?

If so, you're not alone - a lot of work is going undone.

There seems to a looming Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) emerging from the debris of the Facebook explosion in SA.

Here are some of the symptoms of organizational ADD, as outlined in the book The Attention Economy by Thomas H. Davenport and John C. Beck:
1. An increased likelihood of missing key information when making decisions.
2. Diminished time for reflection on anything but simple information transactions such as email and voice mail
3.Difficulty holding other's attention (for instance, having to increase the glitziness of presentations and the number of messages to get and keep attention)
4. Decreased ability to focus when necessary

Despite our hunger for new information constantly, the fact is, having too much information to process often keeps us from doing what we need to when we should.

If we believe that humans work best when they have some time to reflect before acting, we need to assess how much room we have for concerted attention and reflection. If you run an attention deficit too often or too long, there will eventually be serious psychological and organizational consequences.

I wrote a Thought Leader article, entitled The Business of Free, on this subject a few days ago because it's concerning me greatly right now.

I think the issue is not so much around how much information we take in, but rather how much irrelevant information we're expected to process in order to take action.

Of course, many of us are already sifting out the most obvious culprit - Online Advertising. Especially where it seems intrusive. According to a recent Business Week article, as few as 4 in 10,000 people (0.04%) who see ads on social networks click on them, compared to 20 in 10,000 (0.2%) across the web. Simply put, people are using social-media for connection, not consumption.

We need to rethink the way we communicate with people. As Uwe Gutschow puts it:
Brands should be helping people connect and share things better. Provide tools.

I'm still working out ways to manage my organization along the lines of Attention rather than Time and Information. I'll let you know how it goes. In the meantime, please have fun in the comments and suggest some ways to refine your focus, and filter out irrelevant information.

p.s. We've just put up the new dates for the Nomadic Marketing programme at UCT GSB, where we explore solutions to this problem with the leading Marketing minds in SA.
AuthorDave Duarte