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Dealing with Information Overload

Dealing with Information Overload
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    In a world full of information we seem to be constantly toggling between managing all the new impressions we get on a daily basis and feeling totally overwhelmed by information overload. With the arrival of the Internet we were told that things would become easier – less paper clutter to worry about and more time to enjoy life.

    But this isn’t so, as we’ve all found out in recent years. Paper clutter en masse, email inboxes bursting with unanswered mails, tasks pending for the sheer pressure of having too much to do – you name it, it has all become part of our reality.

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    Modern technology is the cause of all (evil)

    Since the invention of the Internet, we have to deal with a lot more information than ever before. One reason is the need to keep backup files of everything. After all, we think, when our hard drive crashes we have nothing left. So we create masses of duplicate copy to be sure “just in case”. Also the readiness of information is mind numbing at times. We feel overwhelmed with where to look and what to do. So on we go on with the quest of finding success nirvana, only to turn in circles.

    Modern life has also brought a never ending influx of choices like private TV channel subscriptions, TV gaming, SMS, mobile phones, RSS subscriptions, a never-ending stream of offline and online publications, our favorite blogs and websites, and more.

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    Despite their intentions, these inventions have not just served to make life easier. The irony here is that they have actually made life harder — creating information overload and the added pressure of being reachable 24/7.

    Gone are the days when I was a little girl waiting for a great book to be published or channel surfing the 5 or so TV channels we had in those days. Back then we weren’t ruled by information at all. It was actually a lot harder to come by information which gave us plenty of breathing space.

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    Dealing with information overload has become a by-product of living in a digital age and the problem won’t go away fast.

    However, I have found simple ways to help me keep control on my information intake. It is the only way for me to deal with this, otherwise I would go mental.

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    Data control and how you can master it

    To take control of the influx of constant data that enters your life, you can do several things. These are all easy to implement and will make a huge difference in how you deal with the information that enters your mind.

    Much like a computer, we only have space for so much, until our own hard drive (mind) starts to act up. If it is overloaded, then our system management will shut down one by one until…

    Take these action steps to deal with information overload:

    • Email: Since most of us are using the Internet, we will need to take measures to get back in control. To start with, we need to ruthlessly eliminate all the non-relevant stuff that sits in our inbox. Those “later” things are not important enough to keep clogging up space. Also be strict with the time you devote to your email inbox. One hour a day should be more than ample for most.
    • TV: TV probably accounts for a huge deal of information overload. Despite the fact that we watch TV to relax, it is actually counter productive as we soak up a lot of information through our subconscious.
    • Mobile Phones: I know, it’s pretty cool to be the proud owner of the latest gadget mobile phone. I also love gadgets but regardless of how cool they look and how sexy they feel, I turn my mobile off at night and sometimes even during the day. The reason I bought a mobile phone in the first place was to be able to call others in case I was stranded somewhere. Plus the annoyance of getting more and more call center calls to my mobile only makes me more determined to hit that off switch.
    • Unwatched Recorded Shows: Uhh, yeah, I used to be a sucker for not missing my favorite show to the extent of recording them, only to end up with days’ worth of recording and not enough time to watch them all. Take a hint – throw them in the bin.
    • RSS Feeds: With the invention of RSS feeds we were supposed to be saving time, reading our favorite blogs. The reality however looks a lot different. Because it is so easy to hit that subscribe button, we now do ourselves another dis-service by subscribing to a gazillion blogs we don’t even like anyway. I clean out my RSS feeds at least once a month. Those I haven’t read in that time will have to go.
    • Backups: Are essential for anybody who uses a computer and stores data. To keep control of the backed up data, why not burn all the photos and videos onto a DVD? It will take up less storage than having to buy more and more external HDs to keep backing up. Also, one backup should normally be enough and for those of us who need two, maybe a written copy (passwords, login data) will be more useful.
    • Meditate: I purposely left this for last, since meditation can help us immensely with information overload. Preferably you will want to meditate once a day just before bed. Even if it is just for 5 minutes, with meditation we can stop that ever constant chatter that goes on in our head and indulge into the restful sleep we so desperately need.

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    Last Updated on March 15, 2019

    How to Be a Leader Who Is Inspiring and Influential

    How to Be a Leader Who Is Inspiring and Influential

    When I began managing people 15 years ago, I thought having a fancy title was synonymous with influence. Over time, I learned that power is conferred based on likeability, authenticity, courage, relationships and consistent behavior. When leaders cultivate these attributes, they earn power, which really means influence.

    Understanding influence is essential to professional growth, and companies rise and fall based on the quality of their leadership.

    In this article, we will look into the essentials of effective leadership and how to be a leader who is inspiring and influential.

    What Makes a Leader Fail?

    A host of factors influence a leader’s ability to succeed. To the extent that leaders fail to outline a compelling vision and strategy, they risk losing the trust and confidence of their teams. Employees want to know where a company is going and the strategy for how they will get there. Having this information enables employees to feel safe, and it allows them to see mistakes as part of the learning journey versus as fatal occurrences.

    If employees and customers do not believe a company’s leadership is authentic and inspiring, they may disengage, or they may be less inclined to offer constructive criticism that can help a company innovate or help a leader improve.

    And it is not just the leadership at the top that matters. Middle managers play a distinct role in guiding teams. Depending on the company’s size, employees may have more access to mid-level managers than they do members of the C-suite, meaning their supervisors and managers have greater influence on the employee and the customer experience.

    What Is Effective Leadership?

    Effective leadership is inspiring, and it is influential. Cultivating inspiring and influential leaders requires building relationships across the company.

    Leaders must be connected to both the teams they lead as well as to their own colleagues and managers. This is key as titles do not make a person a leader, nor do they automatically confer influence. These are earned through trusting relationships. This explains why some leaders can get more out of their teams than others and why some leaders experience soaring profits and engagement while others sizzle out.

    Eric Garton said in an April 25, 2017, Harvard Business Review article:[1]

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    “… inspiring leaders are those who use their unique combination of strengths to motivate individuals and teams to take on bold missions – and hold them accountable for results. And they unlock higher performance through empowerment, not command and control.”

    How to Be an Inspiring and Influential Leader

    To be an inspiring and influential leader requires:

    1. Courage

    The late poet Maya Angelou once said,

    “Courage is the most important of all the virtues, because without courage you can’t practice any other virtue consistently. You can practice any virtue erratically, but nothing consistently without courage.”

    Courage is required in the workplace when implementing new strategies, especially when they go against professional norms.

    For instance, I heard Lisa TerKeurst, bestselling author and founder of Proverbs 31 Ministries, explain her decision to move away from her company’s magazine. While the organization had long had a magazine, she saw a future where it didn’t exist.

    In order to make the switch, she risked angering her team members and customers. She took a chance, and what started out as a monthly newsletter, has grown into a multi-dimensional organization boasting half a million followers. Had Lisa not found the courage to change the direction of her organization, they undoubtedly would not have been able to experience such exponential growth.

    It also takes courage to give and receive feedback. When leaders see employees who are not living into the company’s mission or who are engaging in behavior that may undermine their long-term success, one must risk temporary angst and speak candidly with the colleague in question.

    Similarly, it takes courage to hear constructive criticism and try to change. In business, as in life, courage is necessary for being an inspiring and influential leader.

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    2. A Commitment to Face Your Internal Demons.

    If you feel great about yourself, enter a leadership position. You are likely to be triggered in ways you didn’t think possible. You are also likely to receive feedback that may leave you second-guessing yourself and your leadership skills.

    The truth about leading others is that you get to a point where you realize that it is difficult to take people to places where you yourself haven’t gone.

    To be an influential and inspiring leader, you have to face your own demons and vow to continually improve. Influential leaders take their personal evolution serious, and they invest in coaching, therapy and mindfulness to ensure that their personal struggles do not overshadow their professional development.

    3. A Willingness to Accept Feedback

    Inspiring and influential leaders are not afraid to accept feedback. In fact, they actively solicit it. They understand that everyone in their life has a lesson to teach them, and they are willing to accept it.

    Inspirational leaders understand that feedback is neither good nor bad but rather an offering that is critical to growth. Even when it hurts or is an affront to the ego, influential leaders understand that feedback is critical to their ability to lead.

    4. Likability

    Some people will argue that leaders need not worry about being liked but should instead focus on being respected. I disagree. Both are important.

    When team members like their boss and believe their boss likes them, they are more likely to go the extra mile to fulfill departmental or organizational goals. Likable leaders are moved to the front of the line when it comes to being influential.

    Relatedly, when colleagues feel management dislikes them, they experience internal stress and can spend unnecessary time focusing on the source of their manager’s discontent versus the work they have been hired to do.

    So, likability is important for both the leader and the people she leads.

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    5. Vulnerability

    Vulnerability is critical for being an inspiring leader. People want the truth. They admire leaders who can occasionally demonstrate vulnerability. It promotes deeper relationships and inspires trust.

    When leaders can showcase vulnerability appropriately, they destroy the illusion that one must be perfect to be a leader. They also demonstrate that vulnerability is not a dirty word; they too can be vulnerable and ask for a helping hand when necessary.

    6. Authenticity

    Authenticity is about living up to one’s stated values in public and behind closed doors.

    Influential leaders are authentic. They set to live out their values and use those values to guide their decisions. The interesting thing about leadership is that people are not looking for perfect leaders. They are, in part, looking for leaders who are authentic.

    7. A True Understanding of Inspiration

    Effective leaders are inspirational. They understand the power of words and deeds and use both strategically.

    Inspiring leaders appropriately use stories and narratives to enable the teams around them to see common situations in an entirely new light.

    Inspirational leaders also showcase grit and triumph while convincing the people around them that success and victory are attainable.

    Finally, inspiring leaders encourage the teams they lead to tap into their own genius. They convince others that genius is not reserved for a select few but that most people have it in them.

    As explained in the article True Leadership: What Separates a Leader from a Boss:

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    “A leader creates visions and motivates team members to work together towards the same goal.”

    8. An Ability to See the Humanity in Others

    Inspiring and influential leaders see the humanity in others. Rather than treating their teams as mere tools to accomplish organizational goals, they believe the people around them are unique beings with inherent value.

    This means knowing when to pause to address personal challenges and dispelling with the myth that the personal is separate from the professional.

    9. A Passion for Continual Learning

    Inspiring and influential leaders are committed to continual learning. They invest in their own development and take responsibility for their professional growth.

    These leaders understand that like a college campus, the workplace is a laboratory for learning. They believe that they can learn from multiple generations in the workplace as well as from people from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds.

    Influential leaders proactively seek out opportunities for learning.

    The Bottom Line

    No one said leadership was easy, but it is also a joy. Influencing others to action and positively impacting the lives of others is a reward unto itself.

    Since leadership abounds, there is an abundance of resources to help you grow into the type of leader who inspires and influences others.

    More Resources About Effective Leadership

    Featured photo credit: Markus Spiske via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] Harvard Business Review: How to Be an Inspiring Leader

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