I suspect many of us are suffering from infomania – a lovely word! I don’t know why I haven’t heard of it before. But – have a look what the Wikipedia has to say: Infomania is the debilitating state of information overload, caused by the combination of a backlog of information to process (usually in email), and continuous interruptions from technologies like phones, instant messaging, and email. It is also understood as distraction caused by the urge to check email, text messaging and other sources of information, which causes the person to show symptoms to neglect other, often more important things – duties, family, etc. (For instance, a typical symptom of infomania is that of checking email frequently during vacation.)It gets worse –

Hewlett Packard  (reported by the BBC) warned of a rise in “infomania”, reporting on a study carried out at the Institute of Psychiatry, which  found that excessive use of technology reduced workers’ intelligence.

Those distracted by incoming email and phone calls saw a 10-point fall in their IQ – more than twice that found in studies of the impact of smoking marijuana, said researchers.

Those who are constantly breaking away from tasks to react to email or text messages suffer similar effects on the mind as losing a night’s sleep, he said.

The following is cut from an interesting article found on the net:

A September 2005 study by Basex Inc. estimated that interruptions from e-mail, Web browsing, instant messaging and other electronic communications cost U.S. companies $588 billion a year. It estimated that interruptions constituted 28 percent of the average knowledge worker’s day.

Some practical tips for overcoming e-mail and information overload, from attendees at an Infomania Workshop at Microsoft.

  • Establish specific times to check and take action on messages, rather than being constantly distracted.
  • Keep your main inbox as empty as possible. That avoids wasting mental energy on messages already read,
  • Strive to “touch” each message only once before taking action, such as replying to it, filing it or making note of a task to complete.
  • Look for ways to receive different types of messages in one program, for faster access. For example, some companies now offer the ability to receive audio files of voice mails in the e-mail inbox.
  • Be a considerate sender. Avoid sending unnecessary messages, and use bulleted action items to make messages faster to read.