Managing information can feel overwhelming at times.
Juggling numbers and spreadsheets while tending to your work is a feat for business owners and employees alike. Managing an influx of information among an ever growing to-do list is a skill that takes practice, but where do you start?
We asked 12 professionals how they manage cognitive overload. Below, you’ll find tips and tricks for calming your mind and workspace to combat cognitive overload at work.
DON’T FRET… DELEGATE
Many of us are overachievers and the thought of not achieving goals or completing tasks in a timely manner overwhelms us.If you have a team, utilize them by delegating tasks that will help lighten your workload. If you feel you do not have anyone that can handle the task, then select a team member to train. By doing so, you are extending their talents which may come in handy in the future. If you feel you do not have anyone that you can to do the job as well as you… Pish Posh! Take a moment to reread this paragraph until your mind is changed.
LT Ladino Bryson, vCandidates.com
DON’T TRY TO REMEMBER EVERYTHING
I have found that taking notes in meetings and during important conversations saves my brain the trouble of trying to remember every little detail that was discussed. Doing this allows me to focus on the conversation I’m having, knowing I have my notes to refer back to later if needed.
Dan Reck, MATClinics
AVOID MULTITASKING WHENEVER POSSIBLE
Try to focus on one task at a time until you reach a sufficient stopping place, and then move on to your next task. Working on too many things at one time will inhibit productivity as well as leave your mind spinning with too much information to process at once.
Kenna Hamm, Texas Adoption Center
SET TIME ASIDE FOR EMAILS
Opening and answering emails in between projects and other tasks wastes an unnecessary amount of time. Setting aside 2-3 times a day where I allow myself to do nothing but answer emails for a set amount of time allows me to focus on my other tasks without the temptation to constantly check my inbox.
Ryan Nouis, TruPath
CREATE 15-MINUTE SEGMENTS
Chunk your day into 15-minute segments and stick to it. That way you can move from one project to the next after finishing them. You can fully concentrate on one project at a time and actually get it done before moving on to the next, freeing your mind up to have one less thing to worry about. This works way better than multitasking in my experience.
Ben Walker, Transcription Outsourcing, LLC
RECORD YOUR EVERYDAY PROCESS
Start recording your everyday processes. You can use a free screen recording tool like Loom. Then outsource those tasks as soon as possible, so you can work on the business rather than in the business.
Katie Thomas, CPA, Leaders Online
PRIORITIZE TASKS FOR THE QUARTER
When I feel overloaded with information, I look at the top three objectives or goals I am committed to for the quarter. If the information isn’t going to make an impact on the work that has to be done, I will tag it and save it for later. I keep a few blocks on my calendar each week for “stuff” where I can choose to review content that is not critical or important but of interest to me. It is during those times that I’ll go back to the previous items I tagged and take them in.
Nicole Spracale, Coaching & Consulting
LIST, THEN CATEGORIZE
Admitting that sometimes there is just too much information is oftentimes difficult for small business owners. However, stepping back, taking a breath, and making a list is one of the easiest but more effective ways of managing cognitive overload. List everything, then categorize your information into easier-to-understand groups. Choose your priority (like a group with most information or earliest deadlines) to focus on.
Emily Bosak, Phoenix SEO Company
FOCUS ON YOUR KPIS
The best ways to avoid cognitive overload at work are to prioritize and establish your most important KPIs. This allows you to identify and focus on your top two to five initiatives and your top two to five metrics. It’s perfectly fine to spend some time on non-prioritized projects and analyzing other information. Just remember that your business is doing fine as long as the priorities and KPIs are in good shape.
Bruce Hogan, SoftwarePundit
CUSTOMERS AND YOUR BOTTOM LINE
My best tip is to focus on two types of information: the information that impacts your bottom line and the information that impacts your customers. Provided that your team is functioning well, those are the most important aspects of any company – making your customers happy and making money in the process.
Jane Kovalkova, Chanty
USE A CALENDAR TO SCHEDULE YOUR TASKS
My best tip for combating cognitive overload at work is to plan my tasks in advance using a calendar. If I have new information or new tasks to complete, I will put them on my calendar and work on them during their designated times. This way I can stay focused on what I need to accomplish each day while still giving myself opportunities to do new things.
James Pollard, The Advisor Coach LLC
TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF
Take time out for yourself. Regardless if you’re a morning person or a night owl, schedule in some me-time. Take yourself out of the work equation for your mental health and recharge your batteries. For me, that’s running; for you, it might be reading – whatever it is, schedule it in! You will realize that having a clear head can help you excel when it’s time to work without feeling overloaded.
Ahmed Mir, Nature and Bloom
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