How many messages have you received from your company today? Better yet, how many have you received in general today? Can you even count them all? Do you want to?
We live in an extremely noisy world with no off switch, buzzing with often irrelevant and confusing information — so much so that we’re desensitized to the myriad messages.
As a result, so much communication advice for organizational leaders focuses on cutting through noise. Essentially, how can you make sure your big, bold message gets through the cacophony of other competing big, bold messages?
Not terrible advice, but also not good enough — because in addition to cutting through the noise that’s important. It’s turning it down in the first place.
Information overload is already here
The issue of information overload isn’t new, especially as it relates to the digital contexts we all work in today. Back in 2009, Harvard Business Review was writing about “death by information overload.” It pointed out that the typical knowledge worker turned to email 50 to 100 times a day to take care of an average of 350 messages. That’s 20 hours of effort a week.