Part of an EA's role is dealing with, processing and analysing information. It can often feel like you need to absorb everything that comes your way, to ensure you don't miss anything vital. However, with input coming from every direction, this can cause you to become overwhelmed.
How can you prevent information overload as an EA? And what actually is it?
What is information overload?
The concept isn't a new one. You could argue that the problem of information overload truly started with Gutenberg when he introduced the moveable-type printing press back in the 1400s and made more printed material accessible to everyone than they could process in one lifetime. Of course, this is escalating drastically with the internet and how easily you can now access information on any topic you want.
As an EA, this is both positive and negative. It's useful to have so much information at your fingertips for your role. However, it can also create stress, problems with focusing and an inability to act due to the amount of data you feel like you need to process before doing so.
Filter the information that comes your way.
2. Scan and skim
Learn how to scan through lengthy reports and emails, highlighting the points that you need to know. Don't try and absorb everything - sort out what's important and then make it easily accessible for when you or your Executive next need it.
Restrict the amount of information you take in. Once you have what you need, stop researching. It's easy to become absorbed in the intake, but you get no further benefit from it past a certain point. Creating strong rules to cut yourself off helps manage information overload.
As an EA, demands on your attention come from every direction, and if not managed properly they can leave you feeling frazzled and overwhelmed.
4. Forget and refresh
Forget what you don't need to know about. If you've redirected a query or problem on to the right person, or have completed a task, move on. Don't linger over the issue, but instead clear your mind and turn your focus back to where it's needed.
Take the time to refresh and rejuvenate, emptying the clutter from your mind. These resets help you manage information overload as an EA.
If you'd like to read more about how to be an effective Executive Assistant, head over to our blog today.