Last night I was working at my computer until past midnight.
Having spent most of the day moaning about how tired I was, it was pretty much the last thing I needed.
But I didn’t have a looming deadline or a tricky problem I was trying to overcome… I wasn’t even particularly absorbed in what I was doing. I was just zoned out on information.
Coffee on the go, around 12 windows open on my desktop, bookmarking, screenshotting, reading snippets of stuff about many, many things… all at the same time.
Sometimes I find myself going off on so many tangents when I am working online that I forget what I was trying to achieve in the first place.
But I’m not talking about opening Facebook and procrastinating. I’m talking about wanting to get ALL of the information about something so desperately that I’m like a sugar-hungry child trying to sweep up all the sweets as they fall from a broken piñata (that may be a strange analogy but I spent a lot of the past weekend at children’s birthday parties!).
What I mean is that I feel like I’m trying to gather everything together so swiftly that things get lost and fall away and, although I can gather a LOT, nothing is treasured or properly absorbed because I just get too much – too much too fast.
The thing is, getting too much information, all at once, can be counter productive.
We live in an age where the entire knowledge of human civilization is at our fingertips… and it’s exhausting.
My baby-brain can’t cope. Trying to learn too much means you actually do too little. That’s what I think, anyway.
Right now, I’m suffering from information overload. And I need to do something about it.
What about you? Have you been suffering like me? Here are some signs to look out for and a few remedies I’m going to be trying out myself…
Five signs you’re suffering from information overload… and what you need to do to beat it…
1 – You spend significantly more time reading information about business ideas, techniques and courses than you spend putting them to action
You need one idea you can learn about and then act on. The learning should support you in taking action. Not take up so much time it prevents you from achieving anything!
2 – Your computer desktop looks a little like this: (mine does!)
De-cluttering your desktop (virtual or, indeed, your actual desk) is like a cleansing of your brain. If you’re like me, you’ll have ‘saved to desktop’ thinking you’ll go back to file this or read that later. But you never get round to it.
Cleaning your desktop is good for the soul.
3 – You can never stay on task
One minute you’re trying to install a plug-in on your WordPress blog, but before you can do it you decide to have a quick look at if it’s the best plug-in for the purpose you have.
No problem with that. But when you start your research you stumble upon a plug-in or idea that does something entirely different. And before you know it, you’re researching that. But then that uncovers yet another idea and off you go again.
Staying on task is hard. But if you’re constantly unable to complete a simple task without starting another one you may need to try and rein in your information gathering tendencies.
4 – You can’t remember the last time you took time to reflect
When you’re learning, it’s really important to ensure you’ve absorbed something before you move on to the next thing. Reflection is key for this.
Some reflection happens as you sleep, but if you’re sitting up late like I was last night, zoned-out on information and ‘focusing’ on 65-thousand things at once, you won’t really have a chance to reflect on anything.
You’ll probably just have some very confusing dreams. Not least because you won’t have really absorbed anything properly in the first place!
5 – Every idea is ‘the best I’ve ever heard’
Sometimes I can be a bit of a magpie. Swooping down almost endlessly on any new shiny thing I come across. It’s a little like the feeling you get from retail therapy… choosing something new have a certain buzz about it.
But not every opportunity can be the perfect fit for you. So if they appear to be – if you’re jumping on every bandwagon you stumble upon – something must be going wrong somewhere.
You need to streamline… to make things simple.
This is what I’m most focusing on for myself right now. I have picked one simple project and am ploughing all of my energy in to it. Cutting all the excess out and doing one thing well (more on that very soon but it ties in very closely with the Nexus project I’ve mentioned before – and which you can sign up for here).
By the way, I wrote this email to you without opening another window… going off searching for links to share or reading over messages you’ve sent me to make sure I cover something you’ve asked me to.
I’ve stayed focus and on-task – for once.
Let’s see how I get on going forward.
Here’s to no more late nights staring slack-jawed at Wikipedia!