Have you ever felt weighed down by too much data? It happens to the best of us. Unintentional hoarding crops up sometimes in our personal lives when we keep too many clothes or books (or both, in my case). However, it’s a near-constant in the office these days as digital data proliferates at an alarming rate. How do you choose which files to keep, and how long are you keeping them?
If you’re like most, you’re probably a data hoarder. Keep reading to find out and to learn how connecting with customers about digital overload can boost your information management technology sales.
How do you stack up against the averages?
Just how fast is data growing? Even in a post-pandemic world, IDC explains that “the amount of data created over the next three years will be more than the data created over the past 30 years, and the world will create more than three times the data over the next five years than it did in the previous five.”
How do you fare compared to the following averages? Give yourself a 1 if you have less than average, a 2 if you’re about average, and a 3 if you have more than the average. (You can also take the quiz here.)
A typical office worker:
- Has 199 unread email in their inbox and spends 4 hours daily processing email 1
- Has 130 online accounts associated with their email address 1
- Checks their phone 85 times daily, spending at least 5 hours on their device 1
- Spends 2 hours daily on social media 2
- Maintains the following to support technology use:
- Saves 582 cellphone images 3
- Navigates 21 desktop icons 3
- Has bookmarked 83 websites 3
- Keeps 645GB of storage 3
BONUS QUESTION: The typical mid-level manager only gets 30 minutes of uninterrupted time every other day, totaling 1 to 1 ½ hours per week to work on job tasks.1
Are you above or below this amount of focused time?
How’d you do? Obviously, the lower your score, the less likely you are to be using your technology to excess. Less technology use typically leads to less stored data.
Signals that you’re hoarding data at work
But what do we do about work? Many of us spend all our time at work creating, processing, and saving documents. From invoices to contracts to applications and forms, every business churns out information at a near-constant rate. Each one of these documents feels like it might be critical, so most of us default to the Save button. Here are four signals that you’re probably keeping too much information at work.
You tend to save documents “just in case”
Ever pushed “save” just in case you might one day need a document? We all do it, and so our computers are stuffed with multiple versions of documents we’ve drafted, PDFs we’ve downloaded off the internet when doing research, and our own copy of documents we collaborated on with colleagues. It’s easier to save than it is to sort through the logic of what to keep and what not to keep.
You’re not really sure what you’re supposed to keep
Do you have clear guidelines for which type of documents you should be keeping? Very few companies provide detailed policies to help employees know which files to hang on to or how long they should be saved. Most of us simply guess at what we think is important, and then we keep it indefinitely.
You feel like your data is cluttered
How long does it take to find a file on your computer? Are you in the habit of using “search” to locate the things you need? Do you keep every file on your desktop? If you feel like you’re on an Easter egg hunt every time you need to find something, your data is likely cluttered and could use some cleanup.
Disposing of documents/file management takes too much time
Reality check: for many of us who hoard data, this is not the first time we’ve felt a twinge of concern. If we’re honest, we know our files are a mess, but we just can’t get motivated to clean them up. For many, the excuse comes down to just one thing: It would take too long. So we do nothing, and the problem continues to grow day after day and year after year.
Connecting with prospects at a human level
Too often, technology resellers default to product features and functions in sales conversations, which causes them to miss an opportunity to connect with prospects at a human-to-human level (H2H). Yet, a bounty of sales experts indicate that real interpersonal connections and effective communications are essential to selling any product to businesses.
This Data Hoarder Quiz can be a fun way to begin an H2H conversation about the realities of information management for your prospects. Sharing your own results takes it one step further by allowing you to connect with them over mutual frustration. Ultimately you’ll be more likely to win the business when you use tools like these to move away from features and functions and toward real H2H connectedness in the workplace.
What are we to do?
As you know, a system of record that offers clear guidelines for what types of documents should be kept and that helps you organize versions can be a lifesaver. The best systems will also include automatic records retention policies, so you can set up storage guidelines to ensure documents are kept until their retention periods are met and then deleted. Look for upcoming blogs on what happens to our brains when we’re overwhelmed by information at work and which features are critical for you to emphasize when selling to reformed data hoarders who want technology to help them tidy up.
1 Kondo, Marie and Scott Sonenshein. (2020). Joy at Work: Organizing your Professional Life. Little, Brown, Spark: New York, NY.
2 Newport, Cal. (2019). Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World. Portfolio/Penguin: New York, NY.
3 Stephanie Booth (Feb 6, 2019). How Digital Hoarding May Be Damaging Your Mental Health. Healthline. Retrieved from: https://www.healthline.com/health-news/are-you-a-digital-hoarder