How Knowledge Workers Manage Their Personal Information Spaces: Perceptions, Challenges and High-Level Strategies

Lilach Alon*, Sharon Hardof-Jaffe, Rafi Nachmias, Paul Van Schaik

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The study explored the personal information management (PIM) experiences of knowledge workers, defined as workers in professional fields where information is the essence of the work. It examined their perceptions of personal information spaces, challenges of managing personal information and the use of PIM strategies and looked for links between them. Qualitative data were collected in seven in-depth interviews with knowledge workers from education and industry. Content analysis included horizontal analysis and cluster of meanings analysis (Moustakas, 1994). Participants varied in the extent to which they sensed three factors: belonging to, dependence on and control of information spaces. They mentioned two specific challenges: the overloading of personal information spaces and the divergence of these spaces. Participants used a number of innovative high-level strategies for saving, managing and retrieving information. The strategies were linked to both perceptions and challenges of the personal space. The paper concludes with guidelines for managing information. RESEARCH HIGHLIGHTS: A complex set of perceptions (belonging, dependence and control) characterizes the interaction between knowledge workers and their personal information spaces. High-level strategies for saving, managing and retrieving information are a useful way of coping with the PIM challenges of overloaded and divergent information spaces. Innovative thinking about PIM is an important aspect of knowledge workers' ability to manage personal information in the digital era.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)303-316
Number of pages14
JournalInteracting with Computers
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 May 2019


  • document management
  • information retrieval
  • personal information management
  • personal information space


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