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Warning – Information Overload!

by Alison Bradford

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The upside of all the technology we have is that there is so much information at our fingertips on any subject.

The downside of all the technology we have is that there is so much information at our fingertips on any subject.

Whether it’s booking a holiday, buying a new car, learning new skills, advice on getting a newborn to sleep at night, or just brushing up on our knowledge on an interesting topic, most of us nowadays would go straight to the laptop / tablet / smart-phone and type our desired words into the search box and bingo! (or Google!)

(By the way, I’m not sure if there is a way to tell how many times I use Google in a week but I think I may be pretty freaked out by the answer)

I’ll confess now – I’m pretty much addicted to learning new stuff and getting information on subjects that interest me. This means I often find myself feeling overwhelmed with stuff that I want to read coming into my inbox or on Twitter or Facebook.

But, to be honest, when I get round to reading it all, some of the stuff is pretty rubbish and disappointing. I find there is a lot of crap out there that needs filtering out.

Problem is there are also some gems out there where I learn something new that adds value to my life in some way. Filtering out the rest is worth it for the gems I find.

I’ve developed some strategies to help me deal with my own information overload that you may find useful.

Be Selective

This is all about cutting out the crap. When you subscribe to something because you think it’s going to be a gem, only to discover it’s not, unsubscribe!

A good rule of thumb is if you find yourself deleting mails from a sender without reading them at least 50% of the time, you need to unsubscribe.

Be strict with what and who you stay subscribed to and keep asking yourself – ‘is this adding value to me?’.

Also, turn off those automatic email notifications from social media sites and the like. Do you really need an email to notify you that you have a new follower on Twitter when you can go in to your account at a time you choose and see your new followers? It’s just distracting and cluttering up your inbox.

Set a timer

I’m a big fan of timers, particularly now I’m active on Twitter. Without setting myself a time limit I get completely drawn in.

The same goes for reading blog updates, Facebook news feeds and general research on a topic. If I don’t set a time limit I find that I spend far too long reading stuff and not long enough doing stuff that will make a difference.

Setting a timer can also be a great way to avoid procrastinating on something and make a decision. For example, I want to buy some new trainers. If I google ‘trainers’ hundreds of online shops come up and it’s tempting to want to check most of them just in case one of them has something the others don’t.

Experience tells me this is unlikely so now, when buying something online, I set a time limit to browse and then make a decision once the time is up.

Be flexible

Something I do is to put articles I want to read later in a designated folder. I can then access them on my smart-phone when I happen to come across some spare time. Often this is in the car (when someone else is driving!) or waiting for someone.

I also mark Tweets as favourites that I want to look at later or click on a link and read a longer article – I can then access these in one go when I have time to.

This is batching stuff up which I’ve talked about before as a time management tip. Do similiar stuff together and have a set time to do it.

Having it on hand when you find yourself ‘free’ helps you make the most of your time.

Focus

Be honest, how many tabs do you have open right now? (Confession – I’ve just glanced up and seen I have 8 tabs open!).

Being focused on one task at a time means we are likely to get it done more quickly. If, like me, you tend to have several tabs open and are checking email, social media, reading interesting articles at the same time that you are writing a blog post (for instance – ahem) then let’s set ourselves a challenge for the next week to see how we get on with 1 tab open at a time.

Leave me a comment below to let me know how you get on.

Ask ‘real’ people

Instead of defaulting to Google every time you need something, try asking people you know for recommendations. If you want a quick response, social media can be great for this. Post your questions to Twitter and Facebook and see what comes back.

This can save you time filtering out some of the rubbish.

I would love to hear any more tips that you have for dealing with information overload by leaving me a comment below. I’m definitely still a ‘work in progress’!

 

 

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Alison Bradford

Alison Bradford is a business coach who works with smart, ambitious business owners to get clarity about how they can grow their business and increase profit. Sign up here to learn 6 easy ways you can boost profit in your business today.

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