The question is not whether the nation is overwhelmed with checking e-mail and RSS feeds, answering calls, exchanging instant messages, surfing the Web, watching YouTube and playing that one game where you try to organize the falling blocks.

The question is how much money all of this costs.

Basex, a research firm, estimates in data published on Monday that information overload costs the economy $900 billion a year in lost productivity. And a new online calculator created by Basex professes to provide a rough estimate of the cost to individual companies.

the Basex report underscores a serious subject that companies like Intel and Microsoft are talking about. The problem isnโ€™t so much that employees are goofing off by playing block-falling games, but that they are getting hit with a never-ending flow of information ranging from essential to irritating.

In a news release, Basex, which has worked with Intel, estimated that the average employee there loses about eight hours a week of productivity to the interruptions associated with trying to keep up with the data stream, and with stopping and starting activities because of data-drive interruptions. [via]