Using Evernote

To Beat Information Overload, Be Selective in Your Focus

It’s easy to forget how ‘modern’ our modern technologies really are. The smartphone era is only 11 years old; the World Wide Web less than 30. Even the personal computer only dates as far back as the mid-1970s.

Clearly, we’ve come a long, long way in 40 years.

While computers are orders of magnitude faster and more capable than they were a few generations ago, and digital storage is vastly more expansive, the human brain doesn’t evolve at a similar pace. Our brains are still wired for survival in the world as it existed thousands, if not millions, of years ago: find food, raise a family, don’t get eaten by a lion. No wonder so many of us feel unprepared to process the sheer level of data that now bombards us daily.

The problem of “Information Overload”

Today we are witnessing the democratization of data. While most corporate knowledge was once stashed away on paper hidden in file cabinets and archive rooms, it is hardly hyperbole to say that the sum of all human knowledge is now only a few mouse clicks away. The flipside to that access, however, is that people are overloaded with information: files, notes, images, websites, business cards, emails, voicemails, and more. In fact, IDC estimates that today’s knowledge workers spend an average of 2.5 hours each day simply looking for the information they need. That’s time spent not doing actual work! We have seen such an explosive growth of data in recent years that the challenge now is not finding information, but picking out the relevant information from all the noise.

We’re even overloaded with advice about ‘information overload.’ Try searching for that term on Google and see how many hits you get. So it’s clear that this is not a new problem. But what can we do about it?

Clarity of focus

What we let go of is just as important as what we keep.

To overcome “information overload,” and succeed in the digital world, we need to be selective in where we direct our attention. If we cannot focus on everything, it’s vital that what we do focus on truly matters. In other words, what we let go of is just as important as what we keep.

True innovators know that clarity of focus leads to the ability to ‘join the dots’ and make meaningful connections between disparate sources of information. They collect data, reject what is irrelevant, and identify what will help drive their ideas forward. Armed with this selective focus, they can step back, assess the playing field, and identify new paths to success.

Establishing what is relevant to a team, however, becomes exponentially more difficult as members are added. In a group setting, everyone’s notes, ideas, and data need to be incorporated into the team’s workflow. As author Fred Brooks observed in The Mythical Man-Month: Essays on Software Engineering, as teams grow in size, it becomes increasingly difficult to keep everyone on the same page. Production slows, transparency between team members breaks down, and opportunities for real innovation and partnership are missed.

For teams to work together more effectively it is critical that they have a strategy for managing data and tackling information overload. Only then will there be space to harness the creative power of the entire team.

Space to get to your best work

With Spaces in Evernote Business, it’s easier than ever to organize all your team’s information, and highlight the content you need, when you need it. By changing the way people interact with notes and notebooks, Spaces redefines how productive teams share and access information, and helps them find clarity of focus.

A space is a shared, central hub for all the information your team needs to turn ideas into action and move projects forward. For example, let’s assume that you are directing the marketing campaign for your company’s newest product. You can create a space to hold everything your team needs to navigate a successful launch: task lists, brand strategy, market research, brainstorming sessions, customer personas, product images, vendor details, email copy, promotional videos… the list is endless. Then invite anyone in your Evernote Business account to join the space and contribute, including your marketing department, leadership team, or sales reps. As a home for all your team’s work, your spaces keep everyone on the same page.

The “What’s new” section shows everyone what has changed in your space, so they can immediately see when a note has been added or updated. The “Pinned notes” section lets you highlight information that you want to keep visible, such as to-do lists and marketing calendars. Think of them both as virtual bulletin boards for your team.

You can also tap into the knowledge of others in your company by discovering new spaces (and make yours discoverable) in the Space Directory. For example, you could join an engineering team’s space to stay on top of proposed feature updates. This helps surface the information you actually need, without any meaningless data that only slows you down.

Taken as a whole, spaces bring everything together, allowing teams to save time and work more efficiently in one shared setting. As a result, they can focus on what matters and turn inspiration into results.

Sign up for a free 30-day trial of Evernote Business today and see it in action for yourself.

 

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