Information Overload came from the book Future Shock which simply means that a person will find difficulty in understanding and making a decision because of too much information.
For a good while this really hadn’t been the case with operating a business because the basic channels were either already established (like print media) or were outside of the budget for many small business owners (like high-tech product development). In essence, you generally approached a business you could either do, yourself, or at least had friends and a network to aid in your business development.
Fast forward to the invention of the World Wide Web and the mass adoption of computers and the barrier to create a business has virtually dissolved because anyone that has enough drive can form one around their interest, hobby, or expertise (whether it’s information-based or physical).
The issue that we now face, as entrepreneurs, Web workers, and business owners (online), is that there’s simply too much to choose from whether it’s platforms to take our business, channels to connect with customers, products/services to offer, or information to help our understanding.
When we freeze due to information overload we fail to act and when we fail to act we fail to grow our business.
Combating Information Overload
Every individual will find a purpose and path to combating information overload in their own ways but take it from me – and my suggestions – because I’ve been there all too frequently; understanding of the cause/effect of information overload will certainly put you one step beyond the hurdle and one step closer to your goals.
Understand: “There is no best” – Best is a term everyone loves to throw around whether it’s “the best website platform”, “the best social network”, or “the best business idea”, but just forget it. You’re approaching your business with a unique set of skills and experience which means the “best” may not apply to your situation. Instead of going for “the best” you should think “what compliments my business”; choose the tools and resources that have specific solutions to your problems than one that has a blanket term for the industry.
Turn it off (but if you open it, do it) – Get into the habit of turning off the Internet when you have a great deal of work to be done. Gather your resources in an open tab or through an offline mode viewer and get busy. It will be a little steep but it will instantly cut out distractions like email, instant messaging, or the need to read an article. Also, don’t pick up the phone and start browsing! However, if you do remain online than make a habit out of completing whatever you open right then and there. Don’t skim through an article, take a mental note, and go to the next – make the commitment that if you chose to look up a business strategy than you’ll learn it in its entirety and then immediately implement the strategy the moment you’re done learning.
Limit the Channels – There’s so much choice when it comes to channels to promote your business, offer products, and connect with your customers but this isn’t always a good thing because you end up stretching too thin to accurately reach your desired results. Instead of joining every social network under the sun, distributing products on as many commerce platforms, or stretching your budget into any and all advertising platforms – – just choose one or two, from each, that your customers use frequently. Limiting your social networking to where the majority of your customers frequent will let you focus on utilizing the platform to its fullest while cutting back on wasted efforts on the others. Just one or two commerce platforms (such as your site and the Amazon marketplace) will reduce the annoyance and stress that comes from having to pay and track the various platforms which, quite truthfully, may not even perform for your business. Finally, stick to a few advertising channels until you understand what they bring to the table, keep the ones that work, and test a new one when you have enough funds in the budget.
There’s not a whole lot to combating information overload because you’re the one consuming the information; it’s certainly out there but you’re the one making the conscious decision to become overwhelmed instead of being focused. You can do a search and find a laundry list of strategies for combating the distractions and overload but those lists, in themselves, cause overload.
Give these ones a try – they’re basic but effective – and before you know it you’ll develop great habits for completing your work and growing your business.