Data overload can be a very personal thing. "One real problem for a CIO is having time to think," Energen's White says. "We're supposed to be strategists. If I answered the telephone every time it rang, I'd never have time to think about anything strategic."
White is purposeful about creating time for himself. Caller ID is one of his most important tools. "It sounds horrible, but it's the truth," he says. White doesn't work in an executive conclave; he works alongside his team. That helps him stay in the loop, but it also means he has to close the door sometimes to get any work done.
He also manages his data inputs. "I stopped reading industry publications in their paper versions, and I get the majority of information via RSS feeds," White says. He also consumes videos and podcasts at home or in flight to limit the time he spends in front of a screen and to learn by listening, the method by which he is most comfortable.
Angel.com's Aparicio believes that senior managers should model productivity for the rest of the organization. "No other executive can do that the way you can," he says. "A lot of CIOs do things that hurt others' productivity--saving a few dollars on a smaller monitor, saying you can't work remotely. But there are people in the organization who are solving these problems better than others; find them and spread it around."
One way Celadon Group's Gabbei addresses the issue is by embracing his own inner geek. "My job is a hobby in itself," he says. "I enjoy reading trade magazines on weekends and in the evening. I'll put e-mails that are not pressing into my weekend folder."
The reality of life in an always-on world, Gabbei says, is getting e-mails from management at 10 p.m. "If we're not on 24/7, then it's 16/7," he adds.