Cognitive Load Management: Preventing Information Overload

We are living in a time of information overload.

According to technology futurist Michel Zappa, “Every minute we are bombarded (or at least have access to) 3 days worth of information that we didn’t have a minute earlier.”

The amount of data being produced on the Internet is growing exponentially and while this brings us great opportunities, according to DCulberhouse, it also has a number of potential ramifications that we need to be aware of.

Cognitive Load Management may be a relatively new idea right now but it’s one that we’re going to hear much more about in the future with the Institute for the Future (IFTF) listing cognitive load management as one of the 10 core skills for the future workforce.

IFTF defines cognitive load management as the “ability to discriminate and filter information for importance, and to understand how to maximize cognitive functioning using a variety of tools and techniques.”

What this means is that the future workforce is going to need to develop skills, tools and techniques to prevent information overload and to filter out the irrelevant noise among the useful data. While tools do exist to categorise information and help people locate the right data, the ability to use these tools effectively will become a highly valued skill for employees in the foreseeable future.

Like IFTF, DCulberhouse believes that future employees will need the ability to sort through a staggering array of information and filter out the relevant from the irrelevant. Without these skills, individual and organisational cognitive capacity is likely to be consumed by unproductive tasks and rendered less effective than it needs to be.

Cognitive load management is only going to get more important as the amount of information we all have to deal with on a daily basis increases. Many organisations are also seeing a shift towards a more adaptive mindset. This need to adapt is going to be met most effectively by leaders and employees who are able to use their cognitive abilities effectively, without being bogged down in unnecessary information.

The never-ending tide of information is only going to become more overwhelming in the future. If we are going to be able to manage it effectively we need to adapt and find tools and systems that will let us process and filter out the irrelevant information so we can work cognitively to our full potential and not get overloaded.

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