Managing Information -Turning Infoglut into
All communications, whether written or spoken, use information and transfer information. Without information, there would be no communications. The shear volume of today's information makes
"information overload" not just a hyped myth. Daily you are presented with an astonishing amount of information from the moment you awake till the instant you fall asleep. Somehow you must process and use that information in order to run your life, career, or business.
The infoglut dilemma
Methods of communicating information that didn't exist a decade ago bombard us daily: e-mail, faxes, voice-mail, the Internet, online services. Add to this cacophony the old sources of magazines, newspapers, radio, television, telephones.
Jobs have also changed requiring you to not only use information but to find it and structure it so that your company can use it to make the results benefit the bottom line. It is this use of information that gives a person or company the knowledge base upon which to act and outperform its competitors.
Are you drowning in information but at a loss as to how to manage it? You know that the information in your computer systems, file cabinets and employees' minds could help you run your business or your life more efficiently... if only you had a way to access it easily and connect it all together!
Turning trash into treasure
So how does ANYONE turn all this trash into treasure? It is this predicament, the abundance of disjointed information, that has given rise to the attempt to structure it and transform it into a "knowledge base". The information you have, regardless of where it's located, needs to be identified, gathered, structured and made accessible to all who need to use it. A vital necessity in order to gain a competitive edge whether for a businesses or to advance your career.
Fortunately the software industry is helping by providing the tools to do the managing and transformation of information into knowledge.
The other side to turning information into knowledge, is having access to materials that make use of that knowledge to educate, train, or help others. In other words, to COMMUNICATE that knowledge! Documentation, technical writing, workflow analysis, and the creation of online help are a means of placing this knowledge into the hands of those who could benefit from it.
Managing your information
What is needed is a system where information is given a form that is meaningful to the user of that information. You also need to establish procedures to follow in the collecting, forming and storing of that information.
The computer can become the tool to assist you in managing your information. There is Groupware where many individuals can share in the bounty of information. Not just packaged software, today many websites have sprung up that allow individuals to log on to an account and communicated with each other via calendars, message boards and project management tools. A subset of groupware is Document Managing where all company documents reside in a centrally located computer and managed from that computer.
On a smaller scale you can manage different types of information by purchasing a number of software packages. By using a PIM - Personal Information Management software or Contact Management software, you can easily access all of the information vital to your contacts. Easy to use databases, such as FileMaker Pro or MS Access, give a graphical front end to building a repository for information on diverse subjects. There are specialty software packages that deal with everything from managing accounting tasks to keeping an inventory of your office supplies. Lastly, on your own computer, create a file storage system that is easy to understand and use so that the information in your documents are easy to locate and utilize.
It's all in the method
The secret is not in how much software you use but in the procedures you set up for dealing with it. Deal with information input once by filtering, consolidating and prioritizing. Tackle tasks daily (especially e-mail) while the amount is manageable.
Once you have managed your information so that it's readily at hand your business or career will have gained that competitive advantage. And these avenues will then turn infoglut into infogold!
c 2005 Leona M Seufert