This article by Bob Tisdale, President and COO of Pembridge, is adapted from material originally published in the Pembridge newsletter. 

Today we have a greater advantage than the past in accessing information through the internet or mobile phone apps. This means we have instant access to a multitude of news feeds, magazines, periodicals and websites—all of which are excellent sources of education. One of the best things about today’s technology is that when you are finished reading your news source you can simply click on another one. No carrying around magazines in briefcases, no messy newspapers, and no concerns about recycling.

Having instant access to information and educational materials is great, but one must be careful of information overload. Information relevancy is always my first concern. One of the skills that I have found necessary in the digital age is to become very good at deciphering headlines and titles. The headline or title contains clues to the content. If, for example, I see a title for an article about auto insurance in B.C., I am less likely to take the time to read it in depth. It may be very interesting and insightful, but in my case it is not as relevant as we do not write business in B.C. Instead I will use my time to read articles in depth about places where we do write business.

It is also a good practice to make use of your own organizational resources. For example, in areas where I know we have subject experts available, I will often ask one of our experts to give me a Reader’s Digest version of information I may need. That way, I am educated enough on the subject, but I am not suffering from information overload. The details may be critical in certain specific roles, while for others a working understanding is all that is necessary. Knowing how and when to extract the details is a skill that is important for everyone. If you are not adept at this skill, analysis paralysis can set in. 

I recall earlier in my career waiting for my turn to read publications that were circulating though the office. Often by the time they came to me they were old news. Nowadays, almost everything is shared digitally (of course respecting various publications’ agreements and copyrights) so lots of people access the same information at the same time. This means you can be aware of what is going on at the same time that the experts are breaking it down. This can elevate your comprehension of the experts’ detailed analysis as you are already versed on the topic. Today’s information via technology is quite different from the old coffee stained publications I used to wait in line to see!   

The longer you work this business, the more you realize that no matter how much things change, one thing stays the same: you never stop learning. Developing the skills that are necessary to deal with today’s technology and the accompanying information overload ensures that you can keep educating yourself and keep improving your professionalism while maximizing your productive capabilities.