How do I juggle so much is a question that I receive a lot. And while I am involved in several initiatives at any given time, it is never as bad as it may seem or as much as others think.
Truth is, while there are certain things that I would multi-task, for the most part I only work on one task at a time. Additionally, because I have so much that I want to accomplish while also living life, I have made a conscious effort to develop habits that allow me to work more effectively and efficiently. One of those habits is to permanently get on an information diet.
I have taken several personality tests and most of them have always highlighted planning, strategizing and organization as some of my key strengths. I agree. And in order to be highly effective at all of those, one must be highly productive.
This is not only important for those who work online, but for anyone. When I reflect back to my early years in University, as well as early in my career, I sought to consume any and all relevant information I could get my hands on. My belief was that the more information I consumed, the more educated and aware I would become and the more value I would be able to add to my employer and my own life.
This is true to some extent, but only to the extent you remember to apply the right information at the right place. In order to be effective with this approach, one must first remember everything they read, and then know when and how to apply the information.
Can you remember a time when you consumed so much information and had no immediate applicability for it? What happened when you needed that information? Did you remember it or did you have to go back and refer to it again?
This situation highlights exactly what the problem is. Most human beings only retain 10% of all information consumed. Reflect back to your school days. How much of what you learned in Biology, Calculus and Anthropology do you remember? How much of it can you practically apply today in what you do?
The realization that being an information hog, thinking that it would benefit me but it didn’t, was the first step for me in moving toward a complete information diet.
In retail and manufacturing organizations, many companies decide to set up their supply chain so that they only produce product when it is needed instead of over producing and then warehousing the product hoping that it would sell over time. This concept is called a just in time inventory system.
Similarly, highly effective individuals can implement a similar system when it comes to information consumption. A just in time information consumption system, or an information diet, is exactly what is needed in this case.
An information diet refers to cutting out all information that is not immediately needed and applicable. Often times we get distracted by the next best business idea, or the latest blog posts that we feel we must read immediately.
Think about what happens when we do this. Hours go by before we realize it, and the next thing we know is that a day has passed and we made no progress toward what really matters most to us.
I used to open every newsletter that hit my inbox only to end up wasting hours and not making progress in what I was working on. I had a bookmark list of hundreds. Not once did I go back to refer to any of those. I consumed blogs like a camel consumes water. All for what?
I can understand when people did this in the pre-internet age, when information came at a premium and was only available in certain places to certain individuals. Today however, we have the entire world at our fingertips on demand and mostly for free. There is absolutely no need to consume all the irrelevant minutiae the minute it crosses our path. Trust me, it’s ok.
Instead, focus on the task you have on hand. When you hit a wall, go seek the relevant information you need, read it and then apply it until you hit the next wall. For example, if you are brand new at starting an online business and are working on getting your domain and hosting, forget reading about WordPress until you get to that stage.
Instead, learn about how to secure the best domain and hosting for your business and get it. Now you can start reading about WordPress and putting together your website or blog. Don’t bother learning about email auto responders until after you are done building your website.
Getting on a complete information diet has been one of the best decisions I’ve made, and a key habit that has contributed to more productivity in my life. Think about the times you’ve forgotten what you’ve read and had to refer back anyway. Instead, start developing smarter habits that contribute to your working more effectively and efficiently.
What about you? What are some habits you’ve developed that have helped you become more productive? What do you think about the information diet?Previous: Cost Study: Site Build It (SBI) Vs. Building Your Own Site or Blog