Part of an executive assistant’s role is dealing with, processing and analysing information. It can often feel like you need to absorb everything that comes your way, to ensure you don’t miss anything vital. However, with input coming from every direction, this can cause you to become overwhelmed. How can you prevent information overload as an executive assistant? And what actually is it?
What is information overload?
The concept isn’t a new one. You could argue that the problem of information overload truly started with Gutenberg when he introduced the moveable-type printing press back in the 1400s and made more printed material accessible to everyone than they could process in one lifetime. Of course, this is escalating drastically with the internet and how easily you can now access information on any topic you want.
As an executive assistant, this is both positive and negative. It’s useful to have so much information at your fingertips for your role. However, it can also create stress, problems with focusing and an inability to act due to the amount of data you feel like you need to process before doing so.
How to prevent and manage information overload as an Executive Assistant
1. Filter the information
Filter the information that comes your way.
- Unsubscribe from unnecessary email updates.
- Turn off distracting notifications.
- Delegate if possible.
- Choose sources of information carefully. Limit yourself to these.
2. Scan and skim
Learn how to scan through lengthy reports and emails, highlighting the points that you need to know. Don’t try and absorb everything – sort out what’s important and then make it easily accessible for when you or your Executive next need it.
Restrict the amount of information you take in. Once you have what you need, stop researching. It’s easy to become absorbed in the intake, but you get no further benefit from it past a certain point. Creating strong rules to cut yourself off helps manage information overload.
As an executive assistant, demands on your attention come from every direction, and if not managed properly they can leave you feeling frazzled and overwhelmed.
- Block out time for certain tasks.
- Shut down any inputs within your control during these blocks.
- Close your email and web browser, and put aside your phone.
- Try the Pomodoro technique, using one of the online applications available.
- Create filters that allow urgent requests to come through, only if absolutely necessary.
- Avoid multitasking. It makes you feel effective but slows down your processing speeds. Dealing with multiple items at once can add to information overload as well.
- Focus on one task at a time.
4. Forget and refresh
Forget what you don’t need to know about. If you’ve redirected a query or problem on to the right person, or have completed a task, move on. Don’t linger over the issue, but instead clear your mind and turn your focus back to where it’s needed.
Take the time to refresh and rejuvenate, emptying the clutter from your mind. These resets help you manage information overload as an executive assistant.
SOURCE: Executive Assistant Network