Every day we are bombarded with so much information. From TV commercials to the endless streams on social media, even the seemingly limitless selection of books and guides can be overwhelming.
If you find yourself being distracted, you are not alone. Entrepreneurs can spend hours of time rummaging through articles and books and blogs trying to stay abreast of new information and the latest business trends.
But instead of being informed you might feel … well, overwhelmed and frustrated. Instead of utilizing your time to develop entrepreneurial skills and acquire valuable information, it can be easy to get lost in the tidal wave of materials available to you.
We often take for granted just how fortunate we are to have so much literature at our disposal. Back in the ‘good old days,’ as my parents called it, dinner table disputes were resolved by looking up the answer in an encyclopedia. At the library!
Arguments could remain unresolved for days. Now, we just type our questions into Google and a selection of articles and opinions are immediately available to resolve (or fuel!) those discussions.
Utilizing the internet like this is a great way for entrepreneurs to make the most of these mediums. Taking advantage of the masses of information out there means you need to be strategic. Here are five steps to ‘Keeping On Top Of It All.’
- Set time limits
One minute you’re reading an article about Small Business Sales, and an hour later you’ve somehow become immersed in a string of videos of animals doing cute things. We’ve all been there.
I like how a Facebook stream suggests articles and blogs that are actually relevant to what you are doing. Sometimes, though, there’s too many and it’s easy to get bogged down trying to read everything. Make it like any other task in your business and set aside a chunk of time in your day for online articles.
- Take the best and leave the rest
This can take a bit of work in the interim, but it is worth it in the long run. Be selective about the blogs and articles that you read. Sign up for daily emails from the ones that are most relevant to you and your business and ditch the rest. The same goes for books.
Be strategic in your Amazon or Indigo orders and only select titles that pertain to what you are doing in your business right now. If you are working on marketing, then focus your blog, article and book intake on that. Of course, your focus will change over time so make sure you change your reading list accordingly.
- Organize your Social Media
All social media platforms allow you to organize your feed. You can remove people or businesses that are not relevant or interesting to you.
Last week I quickly perused Google for some summer dresses, and this week my social media streams are filled with helpful shopping suggestions. Your streams will show you articles that are similar to others that you’ve looked at, so click carefully and let your feed do some of the work for you.
- Make a reading list
I love books. The feel of something solid in your hands, that smell of ink and fresh paper – there’s nothing better. And now with online stores like Amazon and Indigo I can order a book with one click and have it in my mail box in a matter of days. Too easy.
And like social media platforms, online bookstores will track what you click on and make helpful suggestions and suddenly your book order is too heavy to carry home from the post office.
My solution? Utilize these suggestions by creating a reading list. I limit myself to two books per order, and when I’m ready for more I return to my reading list to make a selection. That way I can stay focused and select titles that are relevant to my business activities. It’s also easier on the budget!
- Plan your time
I mentioned above to set a time limit for your online perusing to ensure you don’t get lost in the abyss of Social Media. And I do the same with books. I could read all day, but that’s not always productive. So instead I use my planner and set aside specific time in my day for reading and educating myself.
Whether you are looking for some specific information or going a little deeper into learning about a certain topic, give yourself some parameters.
By setting limits around your information gathering, you also limit the frustration and overwhelm of getting lost in the tidal wave of materials. Most importantly, enjoy the process. Research and reading can be relaxing and entertaining.