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How To Manage Information Overload

manage information overload

We live in a high-speed, digital world. There is no denying that.

Unfortunately, this can make the life of a small business owner extremely complicated with the need for one or more email accounts, social media accounts, texting, websites, blogs, and many other needed software and programs. Not to mention that you may have multiples as you have them for your business and your personal use. Aaargh!

The technology age has definitely laid out a great map for information overload. Especially with its enticing thoughts of accomplishing something. It’s easy to believe you’re being productive – after all, you are learning. Or networking.

Even with all that learning, you will put yourself in a paralysis of sorts because you become inactive. If you are constantly learning new things without taking action and implementing what you have learned, you are not really being productive.

That is just the knowledge information available to you. What about all the email, social media, and YouTube videos?

These can cause you to easily lose time as you are sucked into reading, responding, listening, and repeating. You enter a zone of information paralysis.

There is also such a thing as “too much information.” If you have too much information, you may begin making more errors and bad decisions. Especially when you hear (or read) that lists of things that you should be doing in your business, yet they are not all the same.

The best thing you can do for yourself and your business is learn how to manage information overload.

Here are some strategies you can use to better manage information overload:

Email

1. Unless you are in a customer support role or otherwise need to do so more often, only check your email at one or two scheduled times throughout your day. One way to avoid becoming sucked into the email trap is to schedule when you check and send your email.

Also, there are many new software programs that allow you to manipulate your email. You can write it ahead of time and schedule it to be delivered at a certain time, have it leave your inbox and comeback at a better time, and set up automatic responses.

If someone needs an immediate response they will find another way to contact you. The more you practice this habit, the more people will begin to expect your responses only when you send them.

You can also set up an auto-reply to your emails, if necessary, advising that you respond to emails each morning or evening … or whatever time-frame is appropriate for your new routine.

2. Place emails in folders immediately. Many email clients offer the ability to automatically send them to various folders before they even hit your inbox. If they go to your inbox, during your allotted time, place them into folders such as reply, read, take action.

I have my email program set up with many folders and sub-folders and sub-sub-folders to file completed emails in. This also makes it easier to refer back to later. My goal is to have my Inbox at (or close to) “0”.

Social Media

1. How many accounts do you really need? Where are your customers hanging out?

Take a bit of time to do the research for your specific business and determine how many social accounts you need.

Unless you have a social media business, you most likely only need 2-3 to have a successful business.

2. Use a social media dashboard to manage your accounts. Having your accounts all in one place will help save time. Plus, many of them allow you to post to several of your accounts at once and schedule them to go out later.

3. Schedule time to manage social media. Although it may seem as though you need to be connected to social media at all times, you actually don’t.

Using one of the many tools available to you, you can make it appear as though you are always online, even when you are not. This will allow you to dedicate one chunk of time to social media while having a consistent presence.

Unnecessary Electronic Devices and Notifications

1. Turn off all electronic devices you don’t need for your current activity. Yes, this includes your phone.

You get used to not having it on with practice.

2. Turn off all notification pop-ups. These can interrupt your workflow, causing you to get distracted and possibly be pulled back into the information paralysis.

Project Management Tools

1. Use the many online project management tools to help keep you on task and organized. You can avoid much of this information overload when you know what must be done and are organized.

2. Use a calendar. You can use a desk calendar, planner, or online calendar. It will help you stay organized and see next projects and actions steps so that you remain focused.

If you’re addicted to your devices and accounts, and to always being reachable, it may take a little time to implement all of these suggestions.

That’s okay. Just start with one thing at a time. As you see the positive difference it makes, you’ll no doubt be more motivated to make more changes. Before long, you’ll be reaping the rewards of having more time available and getting more results from your productivity, rather than your constant busy-ness.

Managing The Fear Of What Others Think Of You

fear of what others think

Do you ever hold back for fear of what others think of you? If so, you’re not alone. This fear stops many people from going after their dreams.

Allowing your fear to take over can hold you back personally and in business. When you live in fear, you constantly feel as though you are on your own trying to make sure people like what you must offer and that those around you are not going to laugh at you as you struggle to start your own business.

It is common to see everyone else as confident while you feel as though you are trudging through the mud keeping your business from getting stuck. However, the truth is that most people are struggling just as much as you are.

Everyone has their own fears.

Will my business succeed?
Are people going to buy from me?
What if people don’t like my marketing?
What if people laugh at me for making mistakes?

Others are not thinking what you think they are.

You may be wondering what those other business owners are saying about you, thinking about you, or how they are judging you. In reality, they are not doing any of those things. They do not have the time.

They are too busy worrying about what you and others are saying about them, thinking about them, or how you are and others are judging them.

When it comes to running a business, and marketing your services or products, there are so many things that can keep you from being successful. Fear of what others think of you is simply the biggest fear that many new (and some not-so-new) business owners face.

How to Overcome the Fear

There are many things you can do each day to help you manage your fear. Here are some strategies that can help you:

1. Create a Plan

The lack of a plan can cause chaos and uncertainty in your marketing and selling. When you are organized, you will feel more confident and can worry less about what others think of you. You do not have to go through the process of creating a new plan each time, but at least once you need to write one down. The next time you want to sell and market a product you will have the steps laid out already. Then you will simply need to make a few adjustments. Having a plan allows you to see what needs to be done and how you can achieve your goal while keeping you accountable.

2. Focus on One Step at a Time

As a business owner, you most likely have a long list of things that need to be done to reach your next business goal. You may even have several goals. Knowing that you have a lot of things that need to be accomplished can leave you wondering if you will be able to successfully complete it all. Instead of looking at everything you need to do, pick the one thing that you need to complete right now to take you closer to your goal and only focus on that action until it is complete.

3. Turn Off Your Inner Critic

Most of the time, the person who is judging you the most is yourself. Once you begin judging yourself, you feel that everyone else is judging you as well. Begin focusing on your successes and what you do well. Focusing on the good will block your inner critic, allowing you to complete your projects without judgement.

4. Know the Values and Priorities of Your Business

When you allow yourself to become clear about your business values and priorities, then you will not have to worry about what others are thinking. Everyone has their own set of values and priorities; your business is your own and only you know what is right for your business.

5. Determine Your Fear and Take Action Against It

Figure out what it is that you fear. Take time to write it down and determine what you can do to overcome it. Then, begin taking action to manage that fear. You may find that you need to create a marketing plan, overcome your own judgements, or become more clear about your values. Whatever it is, the more you practice, the easier it will become to manage the fear of what others think.

Most importantly, don’t let this fear win. Don’t let it stop you from achieving the greatness that you are truly capable of.

10 Tips For Finding The Right Virtual Assistant

finding the right virtual assistant

Small business owners are notorious for burning themselves out trying to do everything on their own. Every business has its daily, mundane activities that suck your time and energy. There is a simple way to avoid the forthcoming burnout.

Hiring a virtual assistant (VA), or multiple virtual assistants will drastically change your business, taking it to a whole new level.

Your VA will reduce the stress created by having to do those routine tasks that are difficult, but need to get done so that your business will continue to operate.

With relief being around the corner, it is important that you find the right virtual assistant for your business and your needs.

10 Tips for Finding the Right Virtual Assistant

Tip #1:

One of the most important things you need to determine is how much prior experience you want your new VA to have. There are pros and cons across the entire spectrum of having no experience to having 15 plus years of experience.

Your budget may come into play when deciding how much experience you want them to have.

It is also important to note, that no experience does not mean they won’t be a good fit either. If they are passionate about the opportunity, they could grow with your business.

Tip #2:

Are they able to keep open, clear communication? Having a VA means that they will not always be able to talk to you in person. So this means that they need to have ample skills to communicate through technology. Ask them their preferred form of communication. If that form works for you, then great. If not, then ask if they are open to other forms.

Tip #3:

Find out if about their other commitments. You need to know how much time and commitment they have for your business. Do they have another job? Are they in a transition from one job to this one, or are they looking for another part-time job? Do they have other clients that need a lot of regular attention? You must decide what level of commitment they need to work with you and make sure you find someone who’s a good fit for you in that regard.

Tip #4:

Ask about their skill sets. When you put out the ad for the position you may have specified which tasks you need completed. However knowing their other skill sets is important as well. This gives you an idea as to how far the working relationship can go. They may have other skills that allow you to save some time finding other employees because they can already complete the additional tasks.

Tip #5:

Consider their image. This is a person who is going to represent your company; therefore you want to know that they will not disgrace you or your company. Look at their social media profiles, websites, or other online presences.

Do they present themselves in a way that supports you and your business?

Tip #6:

Check to see if they have done their research. Ask them to explain what they think their job will be working for you. Ask them questions about your business that they could easily answer if they looked at your website, social media, or blog. This will show their level of self-motivation and intent to learn.

Tip #7:

Make sure they understand their responsibilities and pay. They may have read the help wanted ad or offer and whatever other information you’ve provided to them, but do they truly understand what you’re asking? This one thing will help ensure there is not a disgruntled freelancer after hiring them.

Along with this, each time you want them to complete a new task, always check their understanding. Communicating through technology can be tricky so it is important that everyone agrees on what is to be done.

Tip #8:

Have detailed lists, plans, or strategies. It is important that you have detailed descriptions of what you want your VA to complete. The inability to walk into your office and ask questions makes this very important.

Tip #9:

Keep your expectations realistic. Your VA is still a person – they will make mistakes, but they will still need to be respected. Keep note that you may not get the same results from someone you pay $10 an hour as you will someone who you pay $100 an hour to complete a specific task.

Also be realistic about what you expect them to achieve and be mindful of their needs too.

Tip #10:

Do not pick the first one you have contact with. You may find that the first VA you interview will be your best choice, but interview several anyway. By asking each applicant questions and listening to their answers you help you in finding the right virtual assistant for your business.

 

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