If you are reading this, you already know what you need to do and you already know exactly how to do it. You are simply here trying to be more organized, but the answer is not organization.
The real answer to overcoming information overload is to gain clarity and take small actions over time. I’ll go over this in detail below, but first…
Most people have no idea why the fuck they are doing what they are doing. Plenty of what they are doing is a form of escapism or mental masturbation. In the 21st century it is nearly impossible to sit with our own thoughts. We might have a fucking panic attack or die if we have to listen to that voice inside our very complex brain.
So what do we do? We watch YouTube videos. We are on Snapchat, Vine, Pinterest, (fill in your mental fuck-toy here). We look for someone or some company to give our hard earned money to without ever considering that they might not fucking deserve it. We are swarmed with people trying to sell us online courses that promise to get us ahead. We download that new to-do list app, this will fix all of our problems!
There is no simplicity anymore, is there? Our brains were not made for all the stimulation we have instant access to.
What is Information Overload?
Every 60 seconds 72+ Hours of YouTube video is uploaded, millions of words published and 2.4 million queries are typed into Google. This is really just the tip of the iceberg because it is not slowing down. I could make facts like this the centerpiece of this entire blog, but this would get us know where.
With all this information, how are we supposed to filter through it to find actionable takeaways and get things done?
It is easier than you think, but first you need to prepare with the following 2 actions:
Turn off your phone while you’re trying to get a specific thing done
Your phone is not a productivity tool and it is laced with endless loops of notifications that send dopamine hits to your brain. It might even make you feel like you are getting something done. After all, billions of dollars are spent making sure you are addicted to using your phone and the apps within it. There is a time for your phone but it is not when you are trying to get things done.
Eliminate All Distractions
If you are trying to eat healthier or stop drinking alcohol one of the first pieces of advice is to change your environment. They tell you to throw out all junk food and alcohol you have in your house. Some of the most distracting things are not food or gadgets, they are people.
You cannot throw away people, but you can set boundaries.
What distractions are eating at you? Here are some common ones distractions and solutions.
This includes the people closest to you. People like your wife, parents, employees, etc.
Solution: Turn off your phone and let people know you will only be able to talk at certain times and when you are done with what needs to be done. Be sure to say this in a nice way so it is not taken wrong. If you do not tell people your dilemma soon, you will eventually blow up on them and that never feels good for anyone involved.
Your Phone Notifications Going Off
There is so much shit on our smart phone. It seems we cannot escape it. Let’s see.. email, facebook, snapchat, Instagram, yelp, text messages, etc.. All these are competing for your attention and are made to be addicting (read Hooked) and you are somehow supposed to get things done. Yea, right.
Solution: I put my phone on airplane mode or turn it off when I am doing anything important, including spending time with friends and family. With some apps I am extremely annoyed by, I kill the notifications completely so I can open them at my convenience.
If you are in an office environment, you know how fucking horrible this can be. You are ZONED IN, getting stuff done and then you have to go-to a meeting. Most of the time, it’s a complete waste of time.
Solution: Tell your manager that you have some very important work to get done that will grow the company and you cannot be bothered with meeting. If you say this nicely, your boss will understand.
Social Media Websites
If you’re like most of us you constantly open a new tab with your favorite website, whether it is social or news based. Sure, it’s nice to take a break every so often but this can take you out of the zone and derail your entire day.
Solution: Focus on the task at hand by removing all tabs or programs that are not essential to what you are doing. You can also try a tool like one tab (https://www.one-tab.com) which consolidate all those distracting tabs.
You know what it is and how bad it is fucking you over. So much information is sent to us on a day to day basis, pulling us everywhere except where we need to go.
Solution: Close it. SHUT IT DOWN!!
People Walking All Over Your Time
Have you ever been completely focused on something, making massive progress and then someone just walks in and wants to “talk” or “bullshit”.
Solution: Don’t allow it. All it will take is setting a boundary one time and you will never have to worry about this again.
How to Kill Information Overload
Step #1: Gain Clarity on Your End Goal
The reason a lot of people feel trapped by the information that is all around them is because they have no clarity on what they are trying to accomplish. I know you are probably sitting there and saying, “I know what I want!!”. Do you really?
If you really know what you want than you are likely using information as a form of escapism from taking action, which we will talk about below. Before that, you should really check your goals at the door and see if they are your goals or the goals of someone else. Learn more on how to set goals here.
Step #2: Take Small Actions Over Time
Most people get stuck on the information treadmill, meaning they feel like they are making progress but they actually are not moving anywhere at all. Taking action can be hard and your brain will try to avoid it at all cost.
Why take small actions? Because overcoming information overload is all about momentum through action. Here’s an example:
Goal: Start a Personal Training Website To Promote Yourself
Small Action 1: Buy the domain name “MikesFitnessTrainingSite.com”
Small Action 2: Google search “best website building platform”
Small Action 3: Sign up for website builder
Small Action 4: Add content and ask friends for testimonials
Small Action 5: Submit your site locally to google, yelp and other small business portals
Small Action 6: Ask your same friends to review you on yelp and google.
Small Action 7: Promote, promote, promote and tell people about it.
You get the idea. START and keep going. You will hit obstacles, as with all things. You don’t need to go back to school to solve them, turn to any search engine to look for people who had this problem before you. With proper action and a clear goal, you can do anything.