One of the most overwhelming parts of running a home business is how much information is out there to help you. Forums, blog posts, ebooks, real books… no matter what kind of business you’re running, there’s information available, and usually too much of it. How do you beat information overload and take action?
1. Hold off on buying products.
It’s hugely tempting to buy ebooks and software that claim they will solve a particular problem for you. If you aren’t ready for that information, it’s not the time to buy it, however, no matter how good or limited the deal may appear.
What too many people do is buy an information product, read it, then notice the next shiny, new product that promises even better results. They buy that, maybe take a little action but not enough to really see results, then the next shiny, then the next.
Buying products too soon makes it harder to succeed because you spend too much time researching and too little time doing. Taking action is the best way to grow your home business. As you grow, if you find there’s a particular something you need, whether it’s software or information, that’s the time to buy it. Buying in advance makes it much less likely that you’ll ever use that particular solution, or give it a fair try if you do.
2. Cut down on reading.
Even free information can be too much. Limit how much time you spend reading blogs, social media and forums. When you find useful information, you might spend some extra time reading it, but this shouldn’t take up extra time every day.
A feed reader can make it easy to scan headlines from your favorite blogs and decide what’s worth reading. I sort my reader by the type of blog. This allows me to quickly find blog posts that might be relevant to what I’m looking for. Casual online reading is separate, so I can enjoy it at other times.
Similarly, sort your emails. Most email programs make it easy to sort incoming emails by sender or other criteria. This way your personal email is easy to notice, apart from your professional emails and subscriptions.
As for forums and social media, the timer solution is often best. Know how long you are willing to spend on those for professional purposes. Keep your time on these reasonable, even when you’re using them for marketing purposes. It’s all too easy to stay on these sites far longer than the benefits justify.
3. Know your priorities.
Knowing your priorities makes it easier to know what information you should pay attention to, and what you should ignore for later or completely.
Sometimes your priorities will cause you to seek out particular information. Other times your priorities will make you avoid reading new information because you have enough to work with already. More information is often a distraction, not a help.
4. Set limits.
As mentioned above, setting time limits can help you keep your social media use under control. You can also limit how much information you read versus how much productive work you get done.
Get rid of distractions when you work. Close extra tabs on your browser and any programs you don’t need open. Put your cell phone to the side and don’t answer any calls unless you need to. If you have an office door and the kids are old enough, close that door. Get the cat off the keyboard and your lap.
In general, get rid of the distractions that make it harder to be productive. Not all of these cause information overload, but they’re certainly a problem when you need to work.
If background music helps you focus, music may be okay. A totally quiet space may make it more difficult to work.
6. Take more action.
Don’t spend so much time reading or studying the things you need to do. Do them. Write a to do list, whether it’s daily, weekly or monthly. The more you know what you need to accomplish, the more likely you are to get it done.
Make sure you know which things are most important to get done each day. Some things are very easy to get done, but aren’t really all that productive or beneficial to your business.
7. Take breaks.
Taking regular breaks gives you time to think about and do other things. You don’t get paid breaks when you work for yourself or if you’re paid on production, but that doesn’t mean breaks aren’t important.
A break can be as simple as getting up and stretching, focusing your eyes on something other than your computer monitor. You could also take a walk around the block, play with your kids or pick them up from school. Plan your work day around the breaks you have to take as well as the ones you ought to take. A break right after reading something might help you absorb the information better.
Don’t forget a good lunch break and appropriate snacks. Hunger can make it harder to focus on the information in front of you.