Reducing Information Overload

Date: Thursday, February 19, 2009 by GTD Times Staff

A new study conducted jointly by Harris Interactive and Xerox indicate  that reducing information overload can yield better use of time – particularly for those working in government positions.  This in turn is associated with the possibility that additional cost savings can be realized as a result.

David Allen has long been aware of this association and it has been an underlying premise of all of his work even that which predates his first book; “Getting Things Done: the art of stress free productivity”.

As the economic crises becomes deeper and as it cuts across an even broader swath of the global community, corporate leaders are becoming more and more acutely aware of the fact that people simply have to do more with fewer resources, at the same time they understand that putting more pressure on already pressured people might make things worse, not better.

Some of the savviest managers realize that the only way around this inherent conflict of getting people to do more with less while at the same time not applying pressure is to do what less savvy individuals find unthinkable in a recession.  Invest in training.  They have learned – and studies such as the one below bear this out – that investments in training can make the difference between getting more out of a calm, controlled and productive employee and one that is going crazy and making those around him crazy as a result.

One event where you can get training of this sort for your employees and for yourself is the upcoming GTD Global Summit the 11th-13th of March at the Hotel Intercontinental in San Francisco.     You can find more details by clicking the link above.

Relief for Government Workers: Easing Information Overload Will Uncover
Cost Savings, Relieve Stress

NORWALK, Conn., Feb., 19, 2009 – More efficient management of the
increasing influx of information may be an untapped opportunity for
government and education cost savings, according to a new survey of the
U.S. public sector conducted jointly by Xerox Corporation (NYSE: XRX)
and Harris Interactive.

Findings indicated that 58 percent of surveyed U.S. government and
education workers said they spend nearly half of their average workday
filing, deleting or sorting paper or digital information.  According to
Basex, a knowledge economy research firm, this amounts to at least $31
billion spent managing information each year by local, state and federal

“Government agencies are being asked to maintain the same level of
service to constituents while staring at severely slashed budgets,” said
Jonathan Spira, chief analyst of Basex.  “Tackling the information
overload problem is a good place to start recapturing some of those

Other responses from the survey suggest taking steps to ease information
overload will help speed up work processes, reduce employee stress and
ultimately save time and money for government and education agencies.
Of the workers surveyed:

*                 57 percent say not finding the right information for their jobs
is more frustrating than being stuck in a traffic jam
*                 38 percent said they have had to redo reports or other work
*                 24 percent said they have used the wrong information
*                 23 percent missed deadlines as a result of inefficient
*                 37 percent strongly to somewhat agree that their organizations
are drowning in paper
*                 50 percent strongly to somewhat agree that their organization’s
business processes are paper-based
*                 45 percent felt increased stress and anxiety about their work

“Information overload is creating huge challenges for knowledge workers
in both the public and private sectors,” said Greg Jones, senior vice
president of Public Service Operations, Xerox Corporation.  “With the
current economic pressures, it is critical for businesses to address the
gaps in their work processes and implement smarter strategies that
deliver results.”

Businesses in both the public and private sector have uncovered
significant cost savings by working with Xerox to streamline information

*                 The Oklahoma Employment Security Commission boosted productivity
by up to 35 percent after implementing a paperless claims process using
Xerox DocuShare(r), a web-based content management software solution.
Instead of manually storing and retrieving employment, insurance and tax
data, workers now instantly access a database of more than two million
*                 Penn State’s Multimedia and Print Center, inundated with
requests to print, duplicate and distribute volumes of paperwork, used
Xerox digital presses and production printers, and a Web portal
storefront, to streamline its operations – improving the bottom line by
50 percent.
*                 The Wilkes Barre School District in Pennsylvania simplified the
student registration process with Xerox DocuShare, reducing time spent
from two weeks per child to just 30 minutes.

Moving into the digital age
The survey, which polled government and education workers across the
U.S., revealed that workers see paper as a facilitator of information
overload and are looking to technology to help manage it.  When
considering a technology investment to bring them into the digital age,
almost half (42 percent) ranked improved efficiency as the number one
priority for doing so.  For those surveyed that have started the digital
migration, 63 percent somewhat to strongly disagree that their
organization is completely digital, leaving room for improvement down
the line.

After launching the “sharing” era with the first xerographic copier 70
years ago, Xerox now helps customers navigate the flood of information.
The company has kept pace with innovations that help clear the path
between paper and digital content, cut through the clutter and make
information relevant again.  For more on information overload, visit:; for information about Xerox, visit:

Survey Methodology
This Information Overload Survey was conducted online within the U.S. by
Harris Interactive on behalf of Xerox between October 13 and October 30,
2008 among 316 full time employees working in education or government
industries.  All respondents are employed full time with 25 percent
holding C-level titles and 85 percent sharing in the decisions for
document management technology at their organization.  Results are not

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability
sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often
not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage
error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question
wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments.
Therefore, Harris Interactive avoids the words “margin of error” as they
are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible
sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted,
random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical
because no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have
agreed to participate in Harris Interactive surveys. Because the sample
is based on those who agreed to be invited to participate in the Harris
Interactive online research panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling
error can be calculated.

About Harris Interactive
Harris Interactive is a global leader in custom market research. With a
long and rich history in multimodal research, powered by our science and
technology, we assist clients in achieving business results. Harris
Interactive serves clients globally through our North American, European
and Asian offices and a network of independent market research firms.
For more information, please visit


Media Contacts:
Michael Moeller, Xerox Corporation, +1-203-849-2469,

Elissa Nesbitt, Xerox Corporation, +1-585-423-3591,

Note: For more information on Xerox, visit  or   For
open commentary and industry perspectives, visit or

Xerox(r), DocuShare(r), the Xerox wordmark and the spherical connection
symbol are trademarks of Xerox Corporation in the United States and/or
other countries.

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