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Driven to Distraction

Surviving Information Overload in the Age of Connectivity

 

SECOND EDITION

(Conference Paper)

Vince Yauger, AIA, CCCA, CCM, LEED AP, PMP

University of Texas at Dallas

Richardson, TX, USA

 



ABSTRACT

We live in an age of connectivity, the consequence of which is we work in an environment filled with constant interruptions and distractions. If not properly managed, instant access to information can bog down project managers, resulting in decreased efficiency and increased project risk. Most Project Managers deal with multiple projects, so the ability to stay current with project metrics is critical to project success. Yet the sheer magnitude of information can be overwhelming.

In this paper, we explore tools to effectively sift through this mountain of details, focusing on what is most important to the success of your projects.

DEALING WITH INFORMATION OVERLOAD

The rate of technological advancement over the last thirty years is overwhelming. Contrast changes in communication in the table below:

Office Communication in 1978 Office Communications in 2018
  • Letters (snail mail)
  • Phone (VOIP, LL, cell, etc.)
  • Facsimiles
  • Video calls (Skype, etc.)
  • Routing Slips (courier)
  • Email (multiple accounts)
  • Phone Conversations (land lines)
  • Teleconferencing
  • Face-to-Face (meetings, etc.)
  • Videoconferencing
 
  • Texting
 
  • Instant Messaging
 
  • Social Media Alerts
 
  • Letters (snail mail endures)
 
  • Face-to-Face (meetings, etc.)

While the benefits of modern technology are unquestionable, an unintended consequence of instant access to all this data is “information overload.” This proliferation of helpful technology provides helpful tools that can quickly become demanding taskmasters.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Do you feel like you’re always on call?
  • Do constant interruptions disrupt your work flow?
  • Do you check work email even when not at work?
  • What does “time off” mean to you?
  • Do you ever think “if I don’t do it, it won’t get done?”
  • Is your phone a time-saving or time-wasting device?

Modern meetings often include both computer and cell phone usage. How effective do you think the communication is in meetings where everyone is distracted by their cell phones? Is anyone really paying attention? If not, what is the point of meeting in the first place?

Ever had someone in a meeting answer their cell phone, then say “I can’t talk now – I’m in a meeting?” Are you taking full advantage of the capabilities of your smart phone? Like, say, voicemail? If it’s critical that you take the call, you could step outside before answering the phone. While response by Text is a more discreet way to deal with inability to answer calls, it still involves you being distracted in meetings.

Information overload can be further complicated by ineffective or political management. Many employees currently in management roles (leadership) advanced up from the PM ranks. They may have great technical skills but lack leadership training and experience. How many PM’s typically receive HR and employee management training? Technical skills alone may not prepare you for leadership.

SOME INCONVENIENT TRUTHS

  • The fate of the free world does not depend upon you being immediately accessible by phone or email at all times
  • You work with flawed human beings – you are also one of them
  • Every team is dysfunctional – some are just better at it than others
  • Technology is here to stay – your sanity hangs on your ability to manage information efficiently

More…

To read entire paper, click here

 

Editor’s note: Second Editions are previously published papers that have continued relevance in today’s project management world, or which were originally published in conference proceedings or in a language other than English.  Original publication acknowledged; authors retain copyright.  This paper was originally presented at the 12th Annual UT Dallas Project Management Symposium in May 2018.  It is republished here with the permission of the author and conference organizers.

How to cite this paper: Yauger, V. (2018). Driven to Distraction: Surviving Information Overload in the Age of Connectivity; presented at the 12th Annual UT Dallas Project Management Symposium, Richardson, Texas, USA in May 2018; published in the PM World Journal, Vol. VII, Issue VIII – August. Available online at https://pmworldjournal.net/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/pmwj73-Aug2018-Yauger-Driven-to-Distraction-utd-paper.pdf

 



About the Author


Vince Yauger, AIA, CCCA, CCM, LEEP AP, PMP

Texas, USA

 




Vince Yauger
has 37-years’ experience in design and construction, working as a project manager for both private industry and the government sector. His construction experience covers a broad spectrum of building types, ranging from small residences to multi-million dollar multi-family high-rise, airport terminals, and higher education projects. Vince currently serves as the Senior Resident Construction Manager for the North and East Texas Regions of the University of Texas System Office of Facilities Planning and Construction – managing new construction and major renovation projects at the University of Texas at Dallas campus since 2007.

Vince earned a Bachelor of Environmental Design (Architecture) from Texas A&M University, with additional graduate studies in Architecture and Management. He holds multiple professional certifications:  Project Management Professional (2011), CSI – Certified Construction Contract Administrator (2006), CMAA – Certified Construction Manager (2017), LEED Accredited Professional (2004), and Registered Architect (1999 – Texas).

Past speaking engagements include the 2017 UT PM Symposium, one of several keynote address at the 2015 UTD PM Symposium, 2016 Virtual Construction and Field Technology Conference, UTD Applied Project Management Forum, 2013 Texas Society of Architects Convention, 2013 UTD Facilities Management Conference, and multiple UT System OFPC annual conferences. He also serves as a guest lecturer for UTD’s PM core curriculum program, speaking to groups of foreign graduate students visiting UT Dallas, and conducting construction site tours on campus.

Vince Yauger can be contacted at [email protected]