Phil looked to the sky thinking to himself "I'm overloaded." He was on his cell phone, with another call coming through. At the same time emails notifications were coming from his blackberry. Today you find information coming at you from all angles: e-mail, phone, regular mail, cell phone, pager, fax machine, the Internet, you name it. At first the thought of access to all this information and ways to communicate can be a good thing ... but only if YOU manage it, rather IT managing you.

If you're not careful, you will go into information overload, like Phil. It is all too easy to do in the digital age that we live in. Information overload is a problem because it can lead to high stress levels, a short fuse, poor health, poor decision making and a general feeling of helplessness.

But do not despair. Just because you live in the digital age doesn't mean you have to fall prey to information overload. You can take control of the constant flow of data. Here are some guidelines we recommend based on client feedback and some great sites like Lifehack and Mercola.

Email is the biggest problem area we see in our programs. You get too much email and to make it worse you now get them all the time through your cell phone. To reduce information overload you need to create an email management strategy. Something simple that you can stick to. It needs to include times that are email free each day. Or even better limited time to deal with email. The strategy should also include a process to clear your inbox and a way to quickly and easily recognise which emails are really important. Most importantly do not use your inbox as your default to do list. Use email as a tool, your slave rather than being a slave to email.

The next big problem for overloading yourself is the mobile phone. You can turn it off you know - and I don't mean put it on silent. Turn off your phone when you are in meetings AND when you have important tasks to complete. Just an hour or two a day is a great start. If you have a blackberry or another phone that sends you email - change the setting so you get email ONLY when you want to check it, rather than all the time. A great tip is to send less texts and emails and you will receive less!

Each month review the newsletters and RSS feeds you are subscribed to. Your newsletters should be going directly to a newsletter folder and NOT your inbox. Each month unsubscribe from a newsletter or RSS feed that is not helping you reduce your overload.

Reduce time watching TV and surfing the internet randomly and playing games. It may seem like these things help you relax, but usually they are a waste of time. Limit time on these to something like 1 hour per night. I strongly suggest you have a TV/PC free night - use it to interact with your family and friends or even read a book.

Take regular breaks. I suggest working for a maximum of 90 minute blocks and then having a short break. You can make yourself a cup of tea (herbal preferably) or walk around the block. Meditation is a great way to clear your head - even if it is just for 5 minutes. In your break you need to move physically to get your blood flowing AND to clear you head of the thoughts from the previous 90 minutes. The refreshes you and build energy and focus for the next task.

THE KEY to effective time management in 2008 and beyond is recognising that the amount of information you have to filter is massive and growing. You are no longer able to do everything or even to catch-up. What you can do is learn about how to sort through information, weeding out what's really important to your life, and ignoring or skimming over the rest. The ultimate outcome, is not about getting it all done. The outcome we all really want is to be happy :-)

Author's Bio: 

Michael Erwin is a Time Creation Expert and Time Coach. Michael has lots of free time management resources at his website. Watch free time management videos You can find more time management articles and time management tips at