Monday, February 4, 2008

How I overcame work at home information overload

Last week, I found myself unable to empty my email in-boxes (despite what I had learned from Getting Things Done). I couldn't focus on anything; I would flit from one blog or website to the next and then to an E-book. I wasn't making progress on my to-list. What was happening to me?

I found the answer after my mind had cleared and I sat down in a quiet corner with my copy of Yaro Starak's Blog Profits Blueprint. I had the plague also known as "information overload". I had gotten seduced by the idea of having passive income through a work at home internet business. I wanted to learn everything right now. But as Yaro said, information overload makes you lose direction, forget your purpose, and keep you from working towards your goals.

It's a good thing that last week, even as my eyes glazed over all those blog posts I tried in vain to digest, I found myself hitting the unsubscribe button instead. It was only the first of several things I did to help me regain my bearings.

Here's a list of what I did to overcome work at home information overload:

1. Cut the number of emails by unsubscribing from all but 3-5 blogs

It was those blog and newsletter subscriptions that had clogged my in-box, making it impossible for a busy Mom to keep up. So this was the first and obvious way to de-clutter my email -- and my brain. I realized that most of what I was receiving was not immediately useful to me anyway. And if I did need the information, I could easily find it on the Internet. I know bloggers are supposed to help each other out but I was subscribed to uber-popular blogs anyway and I don't think I'll be missed.

2. Stay on top of my email in-box by processing it the GTD way

With most of the blog subscriptions out of the way, I had much fewer and more manageable volume of emails. Ah, what a relief!

3. Went on an Internet diet by visiting only those sites that helped me complete my to-do list

I actually went off-line for two days, except to check my email. Then I only surfed when I needed to do research for my class materials, or to help with the kids' homework. Oh and I went shopping for breastfeeding clothes -- which was not overwhelming at all!

4. Got up and away from the computer and did something completely unrelated to Internet marketing

Doing the above made it possible for me to leave the computer for longer periods of time and get my mind completely off from Internet marketing ... such as do yoga. Ah, that felt good!

5. I reviewed my priorities and goals

I have these written down in a notebook but I had stopped reading them last week. So I went back and reviewed them and realized I was supposed to be preparing for my demonstration childbirth class! That was the most important thing at that moment, especially since I aim to finish my certification this month!

6. I listed those topics that I needed or wanted to learn about and prioritized them according to importance

Just to get this Internet marketing thing off my mind, I did make a list of all the topics that I'd like to explore and learn more about. I also noted which ones I wanted to tackle first.

7. I set a schedule for doing research on Internet marketing

When I finished preparing for the first day of my childbirth class, I rewarded myself with one hour of surfing about Internet marketing, stumbling a few websites, and reading a couple of my favorite blogs.

Today I completed the first day of my demonstration childbirth class. I am one step closer to becoming a certified childbirth educator. And when I am, I'm sure the opportunity to begin Internet marketing will still be there.

Newbies are susceptible to information overload. We're excited to learn, anxious to get going with the pros, and try to do too much, too soon. Have you ever experienced information overload? How did you overcome it?

Also check out these posts:

Skellie's "Productivity by Elimination"
Leo Babauta's "A Guide to Cutting Back When You Feel Overwhelmed"
Yaro Starak's "Blog Profits Blueprint" (free E-book)

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Mike said...

The things you did are excellent practices to cutting down info overload. I've put many of them to use, especially cutting out all but a few blogs and drastically reducing time on sites that do little besides waste time.

Lexi said...

hi mike, thanks for your comment. please share any other tips you have for newbies like me. cheers!

Linda R. Moore said...

When I find myself just flicking from screen to screen, I either go for a walk or for a motorcycle ride. It helps me focus and gets me away from the screen. I also take entire days off the web. That usually leaves me about exploding with posts and energy. ;)

Suzie Cheel said...

I relate so closely to what you are writing, tomorrow I further usubcribe
Thanks for sharing

Lexi said...

@linda: yes the occasional internet fast really does help! except dh thinks it should be a COMPUTER fast and i'm not sure i could do that. maybe someday....

@suzie: i've recently discovered bloglines, a free web-based tool for organizing and keeping track of your blog subscriptions. you might not have to unsubscribe after all!

From Hotel Near Eiffel Tower said...

There is a book "7 Habits of Highly Effective People" (search in google). It talks about dividing our time/tasks in 4 quadrants (no.. it is not the crappy Robert kiyosaki quadrants)

In a nutshell:-

I. Urgent and Important
Work that is truly needed to be done NOW!

II. Not urgent but Important
Important work that can be done later that day.

III. Urgent but Not Important

IV. Not urgent and Not important

Stick to number I and II. I once so stuck with useless tasks. One day, my father fell ill, I had to look after him for 3 weeks and forget about everything else. During this time, I read the book.

Now I know that I have been spending too much time on III and IV.

After overhauling myself, I believe now most of my time now is in I and II category.

jill florio said...

This is something I struggle with a lot. On the one hand, it's fun to read all the information sites, ebooks, courses and forums on the internet marketing learning curve.

But on the other hand, then it becomes the means to the end and we just keep on reading. Not doing. Not being actionable. Just being passive learners.

I need to follow some of your tips - especially reviewing my priorities list. Everything not serving my priorities is really just fluff, isn't it?