7 Tips for Managing Information Overload

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Do you ever have that disturbing feeling that trying to squeeze one more piece of new information in your brain will render you senseless?

Information overload causes stress and a loss of productivity. We’re so busy gathering information that we never get into action around implementing all these great ideas. And we can’t seem to put our fingers on the important information that we’ve gathered!

Here’s even more bad news: when you take in too much information, according to a Temple University study, you begin to make more errors, and worse, make more bad decisions. Can your business really afford that lack of clear thinking? (Don’t even get me started about how a hyper-connected lifestyle is bad for your physical and emotional health!)

Here are 10 tips for managing information overload

Regain control of your brain, your time and your tasks with these ideas:

  1. Remember the most important rule: YOU are in charge of your To Do list. YOU are in charge of your calendar and YOU are in charge of how much information you’re willing to receive each day. Trying to take multiple classes at once, or trying to read more than one book at a time, is a recipe for information overload. It doesn’t allow you any time to assimilate and implement. Be selective and base all your decisions on achieving your goals while mirroring your values.
  2. Get things out of your head and on to paper. When you take new information, your brain naturally tries to process it, to make connections, and apply it to your real life. Trying to keep all that “thinking” in your brain makes you feel muddled, anxious, confused. Doing a brain dump — writing down your ideas, even in a quick list format — will help clear things out.
  3. Take the most recent class you’ve attended or the most recent book you’ve read, and create a Top 3 Action Items list. Don’t create a massive To Do list of every great idea from the class or book. Instead, choose the top three actions you can take within a month, and put only those tasks on your To Do list. Once they’re done, you can always go back and choose three more. The point here is two-fold: start implementing what you’ve learned, and do it in such a way that you don’t overload yourself.
  4. Make the decision to make a decision. I know, it sounds silly, right? But if ideas and information are running around in your head and you’re not willing to either act on them or let them go, you sabotage yourself and hold yourself in a perpetual state of overload. Stop doing that to yourself. Instead, tell yourself, “Today I will make a decision,” then do it. You’ll feel better immediately.
  5. When you are drowning in information, stop piling on more. It’s okay to stop watching the evening news. It’s okay to stop reading articles or checking social media sites several times a day. Each time you interact with an information delivery system, guess what? More information is shoved in your face. By taking a vacation – even a short one – from any information delivery system, you get immediate relief from information overload.
  6. Use tools like Evernote or One Note to have a central location for storing information. As important as storing information is, retrieving it easily is even more important. That’s why I moved from paper notebooks to Evernote for storing notes when taking classes, reading books or perusing articles. Evernote allows you to tag each note with keywords and sort them into folders. Notes are completely searchable, so you can have all the information and ideas at your fingertips.
  7. Do you have competing goals? Work on one at a time. For instance, today I wanted to accomplish three things: write this blog post, create my class schedule for the next nine months, and work on a class agenda for a new program I’m designing. All of these things are exciting, and all need to get done soon. All require research and paying attention to incoming information. But only one of the three had a deadline: writing this blog post today. So I put the other things on the back burner and focused solely on writing this blog post. Once it’s done, I’ll choose one of the other two projects to work on next. You have to be willing to let go of some information, even exciting information, so you can focus on your priorities.

I’d love to hear from you: how do you cope with information overload? Are there techniques or software products you use to help you manage absorbing, processing and retrieving information?

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Category: Managing Projects, Tasks & Time, Running a Strong & Efficient Business
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Free Information Isn’t Enough Anymore

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I have ebooks, audios and videos sitting on my hard drive that I’ve never consumed. I bet you do, too.

Free information is everywhere. Even if it’s excellent, it’s not always easy for your audience to digest it and create a strategy around it.

The next place of growth for service professionals and information marketers is to take all the free information you research and produce for your clients, synthesize it, and give it back to people in a practical, DO-able format: a paid class.

Want to be unique?

If you want people to consume your information, teach people how to consume it and use it. This will set you apart from the crowd.

The reason people spend money on your webinars, teleseminars and live classes is that:

  1. They get to ask questions of the teacher
  2. They get to learn in a group environment, where they can brainstorm ideas and feel supported while they learn
  3. They’re given bite-sized homework assignments
  4. They can apply what they’re learning and get feedback right away
  5. They walk away with a do-able action plan

Even offering free webinars and teleseminars sets you apart from the crowd in your industry, because it allows people to receive a chunk of information (about an hours’ worth), learn how to apply it, and ask questions to clarify points. If you’re not offering free webinars and teleseminars as part of your marketing plan, now is a good time to start. Just make sure you have a plan for helping your audience consume that class material.

What students want today

Information is everywhere. But smart students are now saying to teachers, “Make it work for me in the real world of busy schedules and conflicting priorities. Help me to focus. Short-cut the learning process for me, and I’m willing to pay you to make this learning logical and easy for me.”

If you want to be unique and stand out from the crowd, start helping your customers consume, digest and use the information you’re giving them.

If you can simplify a complicated topic, if you can save your customers the time of having to do the research and analysis themselves, if you can cut through the noise and help your customers know what’s relevant and important, then you’ll always be valuable to them.

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Category: Creating, Marketing & Teaching Classes, Marketing, Running a Strong & Efficient Business
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