The Five-Step Plan for Tackling Information Overload

The Internet is nothing short of amazing. You want to learn about something, anything, and with the power of Google and now Pinterest (yes, I think Pinterest is giving Google a run for it’s money…but that’s for another article) you can learn about nearly anything.

This is amazing for the small business or solopreneur. It’s a bootstrappers dream! If you want to create a website, learn about Facebook marketing or take a Twitter tutorial, the Internet is your oyster.

Warning! Entering Information Overload

Because we can find nearly everything through the Internet and social media outlets, I bet you’ve signed up for a dozen or so newsletters, or perhaps you’ve taken a dozen online classes. Now, I’m going to ask you some questions, and you’ve got to be honest with yourself…

Are you reading those newsletters?
Are those to-dos getting done?
Are you implementing?

I bet you answered “no” to one or more of those questions, and it’s more likely that you answered “no” to all three. Don’t worry, there’s a plan for that, read on!

Let’s go from “information overload” to “get ‘er done”

So you’ve got the information and you’ve got the knowledge. But let’s be real, knowledge is really just a fun hobby of reading, unless you implement.

Here is your five-step plan to taking control of the information overload and making sure that you put all that knowledge to work for you!

1. Manage your time online and work smarter
Let’s start at where most of us enter the journey to information overload…social media.

  • When putting in Facebook and Twitter time to read and reply, I bet you are like most of us and you get stuck going from article to article. You end up with a ton of windows or tabs open and soon you realize that an hour or two or three has passed. No more…
  • First, set a time of day that you will network on social media. This doesn’t need to be, nor should it be, an all day activity. Instead, make a daily schedule on when you will go on Twitter & Facebook, and stick to it. Once in the a.m. and once in the p.m. seem to work well.
  • Second, instead of getting caught in the world wide web vortex, add those articles that pop up on Twitter or Facebook to a list or app such as readitlater.com. When your appointment for “research” pops up on your calendar, head to readitlater.com, read up, take notes, and add it to your Buffer App queue to share with your social media outlets.

2. Create an email address that’s just for newsletters
Create an email address that’s only for newsletters, nothing else! Once that’s done, only use this address when filling out opt-ins. Also go to all the newsletters you’ve already subscribed to and change your email address to this new “newsletter only” email address.

Most newsletters offer you the option to update your information at the end of their email.

3. Get rid of any newsletters that you never read
We all do it, we sign up for things and end up never reading them. Next time you open your inbox and find a ton of non-relevant emails, click on that unsubscribe button found at the bottom of the message.

Now you can save time on deleting all those emails daily, add a little breathing room to your inbox and work smarter with less junk clogging up your online life.

4. Create an email folder for each online program you are taking
When you sign up for an online class, many times they’ll email you reminders of when new information becomes available, reminders of live class calls and perhaps you may receive one-on-one emails from the coach themselves.

Save your sanity by creating a folder within your email dashboard that’s only for communication from that program. Then create a filter for emails to skip your inbox and go directly to this email folder. Set a time daily to check for new email and updates.

Google mail offers a great filtering system to tackle this.

5. Get support and accountability partners
Remember, taking in information and doing nothing with it, will keep you at square one (with a little anxiety, frustration and overwhelm to top it off).

Now it’s time to find a support group. If you are in a DIY (do it yourself) program online, find a few fellow students and set up a time each week for you to share what you did and what you will do next. This keeps you implementing and keeps you accountable.

If you are more of a private person who wants more hand holding look for a “get it done” coach, like myself, to keep you on track and share tips and tricks along the way.

Success! You’ve conquered information overload

The key is to get organized, clear the clutter, set a schedule and find that accountability partner to take information overload and turn it into action!

Now go forward and implement the above steps. Need help? Check out how to reach me below, I’d love to help you take those “to-dos” and turn them into “ta-dahs!”

 

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Sarah BurnsSarah Burns is a small business owner, blogger and social media magician. She is the former Director of Communications at LKR and aided in taking it from a start-up to a flourishing million dollar business. Her social media implementation company, Tadah! offers an accountability partner for small business owners to help them harness social media, get it done and watch their small business grow. Visit Sarah at http://www.tadahsocialmedia.com or find her on Twitter.

Comments

  1. Love the tips. I recently started using the “separate email for newsletters” strategy and started unsubscribing from newsletter I don’t read. It doesn’t even mean that they are bad, I simply read some before others so those “others” never get read and bring my email inbox to 500 unread items in no time when at the same time I will never read it. So I guess unsubscribing is better in this case.

    Another thing I do, I learned it from a program I took, unfortunately can’t remember the author but it includes marking emails with labels, where for example red label means action which then means I need to do something about it fast. There are few other labels and it improved my email productivity ten fold.

    The email folder thing you mention, I never thought about, that is a great idea and I will use it from now on, I really need to organize myself better and every little bit helps :)

  2. You’ll be hearing from me soon! Great, great tips!

  3. Great post Sarah! I feel better just reading your tips and knowing there is a way out of the information jungle. Now I have to act!

  4. Great post, Sarah. We entrepreneurs never get overwhelmed with information, right??? ha ha! I need to do a better job at upholding my “time limit” rule with myself, and have to set up readitlater, for sure. thanks for the reminder! And love your new consulting Biz……such a need for that — handholding implementation. Love it!!

    • Yay, thanks Aimee! Social Media is an amazing marketing channel but when it’s not your main biz to be on it all day, well, other things suffer. So put a timer on it, get it done, and move on!

      (see you on FB and twitter ;) )

  5. I appreciate this post! I as an entrepreneur I normally get into a lot of trouble when it comes to all of the information (sometimes even the passwords) of my blog and stuff. I need organization skills to make things work.Thanks!

  6. I’d also recomend setting up saved searches on services like twitter. Resist the urge to check them all the time, but use them to get the news you are after for your market. We’re even building a tool (http://www.siftsocial.com) to help. :)

    • Ooh, I’ll check that out Josh. Very cool. I definitively do the saved searches on twitter too, it really cuts down time, thanks for the reminder!

  7. Fantastic tips, Sarah, and congrats on your business.

    I’ve tried so hard to do Inbox Zero, but it just overwhelms me if I’ve been sick or away from my computer for a couple of days. Obviously that means I’m getting too much stuff, so I’ll work on getting off of lists.

    But it’s all so interesting! :-(

    • Thanks so much Elizabeth! I’m really excited about Tadah!

      In regards to the email…Keep what you love, then schedule a time to read it all. But you can have the ones that are keepers skip your inbox and go to another folder so that your client and more time-sensitive emails make it through.

  8. Love this idea. Thanks for posting.

  9. Awesome stuff, Sarah.

    I do most of these (and am considering the rest :P).

    What I really love is the overall message of the post.

    In an information world, with complete, easy access to tons of info… what’s one of the biggest pitfalls?

    OD’ing :)

    Great to see you making an appearance at “old haunts” :)

  10. Great Post Sarah, I’m a sucker for signing up for newsletters, I think I’ll go unsubscribe from the ones I don’t use right now.