Blog · Nov 19, 2015

High Performance – is Information Processing Key?

This week’s guest blog…

How’s your IQ?

The argument about whether IQ is a good way of assessing intelligence continues to rage on but, according to a 2013 study by academics at Rochester University, IQ levels could be worth considering when you’re considering how to embed high performance in your organisation. Is it key when you’re building high performing teams?

People with high IQs are the most efficient processors of information. According to the study, when presented with a problem, they are the best able to consider the options for dealing with it, come up with a solution, and then implement it. They are the people who are able to focus on a single task without becoming distracted. The very fact that you’ve made it this far into the article without leaving in search of a cat video suggests that your distraction threshold isn’t too low – but what if you want to improve it for yourself or for your teams?

Are there strategies that you can use to minimise distractions and, consequently, improve your performance?

Alerts are killing your productivity

How many times did your phone buzz in the last 30 minutes? How many email notifications or calendar alerts popped up during the same period. Every single one of these is a potential distraction, and takes you away from an environment where high performance can be optimised. In this ‘always on’ world where we are bombarded with constant messaging and digital marketing, is it possible your people are spending so much time processing the information that’s bombarding them rather than focusing on the task in hand? Is it time for a digital detox?

Planning your digital detox

If going cold turkey seems too scary then there are steps that you can take now to reduce your digital distractions, and improve your ability to focus. Most phones and devices offer you the ability to manage your notifications, turn them off between certain times, or even silence certain applications completely. There are plenty of guides on how to do this for iOS and Android.

The key is to prioritise your alerts – allowing yourself to decide quickly whether a notification requires your immediate attention, should be dealt with soon but not immediately, or can be ignored completely. You may well be aware of the existence of tools to help with improved productivity – but do you use them?

One thing we have found useful is to set different ringtones or alerts for different contacts. A call from your boss might require your immediate attention. One from your mobile phone company probably doesn’t. The more quickly you’re able to process the information, the more quickly you’ll be able to act on it, or decide to ignore it completely if it doesn’t make your boat go faster.

Is your phone killing your performance?

A common objection to using an alerts system is that emails and the like don’t take much time to deal with anyway. This may be true in essence, but it’s the sheer volume that can cause the problem, and may damage the business performance of either you or your teams.

A quick check of my phone shows that it received over 250 alerts and notifications in the past 24 hours. If each of those took 10 seconds to deal with, then I spent almost 45 minutes of my day processing the information provided by alerts.

That’s time that I could surely put to better use: employing the 10 minute rule 4 times, working through a to-do list, or even going home a little earlier and leading a slightly more relaxed life! In any case, it won’t be contributing towards my quest for high performance!


The devices we carry around may have the potential to make us into productivity machines, but only if we learn how to manage them properly. Why should effective information processing be the province of only those with a higher IQ? We’re all looking to work smarter, not harder, and regardless of our IQ, any steps we can take towards improved productivity can only be a good thing!

We are regular disciples of the strategies for high performance in the Performance Insights updates from the Will It Make The Boat Go Faster? team. We highly recommend you sign up and keep in touch.

Have a productive week!


Tracy Thomas is a digital marketing specialist and video producer. She runs Saucy Horse Ltd, a digital, social and web agency helping clients who want more traffic to their website, measurable results from social media and email marketing, improved results from PPC, and better qualified online leads. For advice, and digital marketing case studies, visit

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