“Change is the only constant in life.”
— Heraclitus, Greek Philosopher
Nowhere today is this more apparent than in the business world. New technologies are launched daily, business models have changed and continue to change, lean startup thinking has proliferated and the traditional business plan is not what it used to be. Who wants to read a 40-page business plan nowadays? I sure don’t.
Change often stems from external factors; things or events that are outside our control. And many people spend an unnecessary amount of time and energy focusing on them. Successful people accept that change has and will continue to happen for eternity. They adopt certain mindset changes, that makes them different and have helped, and continue to help them achieve unprecedented success. Here are four!Advertising
“I will take action despite.”
Successful people accept that there will always be external factors that are outside their control. Rather than harp on those – and waste unnecessary time and energy – they focus on that which they can control. They adopt an “I will take action despite” mindset.
A great example is Bamidele Onibalusi, a Nigerian-born businessman and freelance writer who serves as an inspiration to thousands of aspiring writers and entrepreneurs. As a 16-year-old kid, he wanted to make money online. Despite not having access to a computer and internet, he approached a cafe owner. This partnership lasted for a few months, with no concrete results.Advertising
He explored other avenues, despite his circumstances, to make his dream come true. In his first eight months of blogging, he published roughly 270 guest posts in highly regarded publications, such as Business Insider and Problogger. One of his articles titled 30 Websites that Pay You to Contribute an Article, Instantly has gained over 200 000 views in the past four years (this is probably a lot higher now).
People began noticing him. Requests poured in. At the age of 18, he was one of Nigeria, top bloggers. He currently has his own website entitled Writers in Charge, where he inspires writers and aspiring writers to become truly in charge of their writing career. He also has a commercial fish farm.
“There is always a solution to any problem.”Advertising
Many people feel that life is too hard. As a result, they give up to easily. Consider for example someone -who has no experience – who wants to launch a website. There are a lot of technical details involved, from hosting, domain registration, working in WordPress, designing (or other content platforms) and countless others.
Many people will give up before they have even started because it seems like a huge mountain to climb. The reality is that there are always solutions to these problems. You can search Google and teach yourself or you can outsource the project to someone to complete for you. Successful people develop a “there is always a solution to any problem” mindset.
“I will always be proactive.”Advertising
In today’s business world you cannot expect to create a product and people will flock in their thousands. Sure you might get one or two customers, but to truly make a success out of any business, you need to have a clear strategy. You need to be proactive in marketing your product. You need to bring the product to the people, not wait for the people to come to the product. Adopt the “I will always be proactive” mindset.
“I will always be positive.”
Much research studies have been done on the power of positive and negative thinking for our overall well being. In business terms it is simple. Positive thoughts lead to positive actions and in turn positive results. If you spend time worrying about what’s not working and what’s gone wrong, you cripple progress. Through changing your mindset to what is working and what is right and what can be done (refer to the point about finding solutions) you actually start to make positive progress toward achieving results and becoming more successful.
How to Fight Information Overload
Information overload is a creature that has been growing on the Internet’s back since its beginnings. The bigger the Internet gets, the more information there is. The more quality information we see, the more we want to consume it. The more we want to consume it, the more overloaded we feel.
This has to stop somewhere. And it can.
As the year comes to a close, there’s no time like the present to make the overloading stop.
What you need to do is focus on these 4 steps:
- Set your goals.
- Decide whether you really need the information.
- Consume only the minimal effective dose.
- Don’t procrastinate by consuming too much information.
But before I explain exactly what I mean, let’s discuss information overload in general.
The Nature of the Problem
The sole fact that there’s more and more information published online every single day is not the actual problem. Only the quality information becomes the problem. This sounds kind of strange…but bear with me.
When we see some half-baked blog post we don’t even consider reading it, we just skip to the next thing. But when we see something truly interesting — maybe even epic — we want to consume it. We even feel like we have to consume it. And that’s the real problem.
No matter what topic we’re interested in, there are always hundreds of quality blogs publishing entries every single day (or every other day). Not to mention all the forums, message boards, social news sites, and so on. The amount of epic content on the Internet these days is so big that it’s virtually impossible for us to digest it all. But we try anyway.
That’s when we feel overloaded. If you’re not careful, one day you’ll find yourself reading the 15th blog post in a row on some nice WordPress tweaking techniques because you feel that for some reason, “you need to know this.”
Information overload is a plague. There’s no vaccine, there’s no cure. The only thing you have is self-control. Luckily, you’re not on your own. There are some tips you can follow to protect yourself from information overload and, ultimately, fight it. But first…
Why information overload is bad
It stops you from taking action. That’s the biggest problem here. When you try to consume more and more information every day, you start to notice that even though you’ve been reading tons of articles, watching tons of videos and listening to tons of podcasts, the stream of incoming information seems to be infinite.
Therefore, you convince yourself that you need to be on a constant lookout for new information if you want to be able to accomplish anything in your life, work and/or passion. The final result is that you are consuming way too much information, and taking way too little action because you don’t have enough time for it.
The belief that you need to be on this constant lookout for information is just not true.
You don’t need every piece of advice possible to live your life, do your work, or enjoy your passion.
So how to recognize the portion of information that you really need? Start with your goals.
1. Set your goals
If you don’t have your goals put in place you’ll be just running around grabbing every possible advice and thinking that it’s “just what you’ve been looking for.”
Setting goals is a much more profound task than just a way to get rid of information overload. Now by “goals” I don’t mean things like “get rich, have kids, and live a good life”. I mean something much more within your immediate grasp. Something that can be achieved in the near future — like within a month (or a year) at most.
Basically, something that you want to attract to your life, and you already have some plan on how you’re going to make it happen. So no hopes and dreams, just actionable, precise goals.
Then once you have your goals, they become a set of strategies and tactics you need to act upon.
2. What to do when facing new information
Once you have your goals, plans, strategies and tasks you can use them to decide what information is really crucial.
First of all, if the information you’re about to read has nothing to do with your current goals and plans then skip it. You don’t need it.
If it does then it’s time for another question. Will you be able to put this information into action immediately? Does it have the potential to maybe alter your nearest actions/tasks? Or is it so incredible that you absolutely need to take action on it right away? If the information is not actionable in a day or two (!) then skip it. (You’ll forget about it anyway.)
And that’s basically it. Digest only what can be used immediately. If you have a task that you need to do, consume only the information necessary for getting this one task done, nothing more.
You need to be focused in order to have clear judgment, and be able to decide whether some piece of information is mandatory or redundant. Self-control comes handy too … it’s quite easy to convince yourself that you really need something just because of poor self-control. Try to fight this temptation, and be as ruthless about it as possible – if the information is not matching your goals and plans, and you can’t take action on it in the near future then SKIP IT.
3. Minimal Effective Dose
There’s a thing called the MED – Minimal Effective Dose. I was first introduced to this idea by Tim Ferriss. In his book The 4-Hour Body,Tim illustrates the minimal effective dose by talking about medical drugs. Everybody knows that every pill has a MED, and after that specific dose no other positive effects occur, only some negative side effects if you overdose big.
Consuming information is somewhat similar. You need just a precise amount of it to help you to achieve your goals and put your plans into life. Everything more than that amount won’t improve your results any further. And if you try to consume too much of it, it will eventually stop you from taking any action altogether.
4. Don’t procrastinate by consuming more information
Probably one of the most common causes of consuming ridiculous amounts of information is the need to procrastinate. By reading yet another article we often feel that we are indeed working, and that we’re doing something good – we’re learning, which in result will make us a more complete and educated person.
This is just self-deception. The truth is we’re simply procrastinating. We don’t feel like doing what really needs to be done – the important stuff – so instead we find something else, and convince ourselves that “that thing” is equally important. Which is just not true.
Don’t consume information just for the sake of it. It gets you nowhere.
As you can see, information overload can be a real problem and it can have a sever impact on your productivity and overall performance. I know I have had my share of problems with it (and probably still have from time to time). But creating this simple set of rules helps me to fight it, and to keep my lizard brain from taking over. I hope it helps you too, especially as we head into a new year with a new chance at setting ourselves up for success.
Feel free to shoot me a comment below and share your own story of fighting information overload. What are you doing to keep it from sabotaging your life?
(Photo credit: Businessman with a Lot of Discarded Paper via Shutterstock)
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