Living in the information age has its perks. Finding the answer to that movie trivia question that’s been bothering you or reading a review of a mobile phone you want to buy, with just a couple of keystrokes, would have been unheard of 10 years ago. We’ve come to depend on an information superhighway that can help us answer any question we might have in a matter of seconds.

But it’s not all fun and games. The glut of information available has had some negative side effects, notably the very common, and stress-inducing, information overload syndrome. Everyone is feeling the effect of a growing mountain of information we feel obliged to absorb from unread e-mails, blog feeds and news streams.

Fleet managers are particularly vulnerable to information overload as they process data related to their own jobs, as well as those they oversee. How can they avoid drowning in too much information, while at the same time making sure that important details are not missed?

Information Overload — A survival guide

The best managers are the ones who are aware of their limitations. There’s no shame in admitting you’re only human, and that you can only work so many hours per day. Taking a sensible, sustainable approach to information means a manager will not only work better, but avoid burnout.

Here are some tips to help you avoid information overload:

  1. Set priorities — The first step for managers is to make sure they know what’s important and what isn’t. There’s an old saying that you can be so busy standing on the ants that you don’t notice the elephants coming over the wall. Don’t let this happen to you. Make a list, if you have to, that reminds you of the tasks, responsibilities and metrics that your job entails. Remember to do your most important tasks first, and always ask ‘Why am I doing this?’ before embarking on a new task.
  2. Limit the flow of information — Just like a garden hose, you can control the flow of information you receive. If it’s too much, or if you’re receiving a lot of unnecessary or irrelevant information, take action. Unsubscribe from the e-mails, feeds or instant messages that are no longer relevant to the main tasks you listed in the previous step.
  3. Choose how you will receive information — Some managers have an open door policy when it comes to letting people contact them. They’ll accept any mode of communication — e-mail, SMS, mobile phone calls, pager or instant message — at any time of the day. Sure, it’s nice if a manager is approachable, but if you want to avoid burning out you have to put limits on your contact with others. This doesn’t mean you become aloof or difficult to contact, but you can train others to use the best and most effective methods of communicating with you.

Fleet managers — How can you cope?

Fleet managers often deal with a lot more information than the average manager, and they are more susceptible to information overload than most. What can they do to make sure they stay on top of the glut of information they receive every day?

Using the three points listed above, here’s how you can setup Telogis Fleet™ to control the flow of information:

  1. Set priorities — Yes, it’s true you can’t manage what you can’t measure, but you first need to know what you want to manage. Decide what metrics are most important to your fleet’s operations and focus on those. Is it measuring on-time starts, incidences of speeding, vehicle utilization, or service response times? As soon as you’ve decided on your chosen fleet metrics, set up your reports and InSight Alerts™ to measure those things.
  2. Limit the flow — With each tracked asset updating its status every 2 minutes, you can easily see how you could quickly drown in a glut of information. The great thing about the Telogis dashboard is that you can choose how much detail you want. From an entire fleet overview that shows vehicles grouped together with intelligent spatial clustering, to detailed feedback on individual assets — it’s all just a mouse click away.
  3. Choose how you will receive information — You might not always be in a position to keep a close eye on the Telogis dashboard to monitor your fleet, but you still want to be kept informed of key events as they happen. You can easily set up automated reports to be e-mailed to any number of recipients at regular intervals, as well as Insight Alerts to receive as-it-happens updates for any vehicle or driver metric that is of particular interest to you.

There’s no question that fleet managers have to cope with a huge amount of information every day, but by controlling how and when you tap into that data you can save yourself a huge amount of time, effort and stress!