5 Ways You're Wasting Your Time Looking for Information

Dec 03 2015

The larger your organisation, the most likely you are to waste time looking for resources and relevant information as part of your job. Studies show that a typical knowledge worker can waste more than 10% of their time each week looking for specific pieces of information. Here are 5 common causes for these issues and how to fix them.

I don't have access!

This one is a classic. You've been sent a link to a document, but upon accessing it you're faced with an "access denied" message. While making sure that information is secure is a key concern in most companies, it often turns out that documents and files are protected for no good reason.

What we recommend regarding this is that you should start by making as much information available to as many users as possible, and then work on a case-by-case basis to secure the items that really need to be. Most of the time, you'll realise that most pieces of information aren't really that confidential.

The file I'm looking for isn't in the right place

Not quite the same as above, though quite similar, is the misplaced file. John didn't respect the shared drive hierarchy that was setup 3 years ago, before your department was reorganised and now you can't find that report for your next meeting.

In such cases, being able to use a search engine usually fix the problem. However, you'll need to make sure that it indexes the content of all your documents, not just titles!

What do you mean, this wasn't the right version?

This could well be the most frustrating of the bunch. You just spent 2 hours updating the end-of-year review presentation, only to discover that Barry had also updated it on his end. You now have 57 different slides to reconcile and only a couple hours to go before the meeting!

The key here is to make sure that you're always sharing the latest version of your document in one single place, that will serve as the reference. A wiki can be very helpful to deal with such cases, by providing a shared central repository where all of your documents can be safely shared with your co-workers.

Better safe than sorry

The mindset we've observed in many companies is that many employees would rather work on something on their end without sharing it with their co-workers rather than showing an unfinished piece of work. However, what most people fail to realise is that the sooner errors and issues are caught, the less costly they are for your organisation. 

This is why we encourage our clients to develop a benevolent attitude towards work-in-progress. If you're not afraid of being prematurely judged on an unfinished piece of work, you're more likely to share it and make it available for comments. This in turn will help guarantee better quality - a net win-win situation!

We didn't write it down, but just ask Annie!

Last but not least, there's the famous "informal knowledge sharing", also known as "I'm just too lazy to write it down".  Once you factor in the time spent asking and answering the same questions again and again, it becomes clear that the lazy path isn't so obvious in the end.

A simple way to achieve this is to always ask yourself "Would others benefit from this information?" before sending an email or providing information over a quick phone call. If that's the case, stop right there and go update the relevant wiki page! Once you've done this, it will be easy for you to send a link to the person who asked.