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.
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”.
“One of the best things you can do for yourself and your business is learn how to manage information overload.”
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.
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.
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.
Donna-Marie is an award-winning Entrepreneur, Author and Content Marketing Specialist. Through her business, Jacaranda Business Support Services, she has been helping other small businesses to grow since 1998, with a knack for teaching systems that allow business owners to increase profits while working less.