In the age of information, it is damn near impossible to put down the resources and pick up the pace on that little thing called action. As a small business owner, you are bombarded with software solutions, productivity tips, time-saving tools and more marketing advice than you know what to do with. It is so easy to let these emails, status updates, blogs, and late-night internet crawls leave you paralyzed with ideas and action items for your business. So, it is no surprise that after digesting anything you can get your hands on you have a to-do list a mile long but the phone still isn’t ringing… but there is hope!
Stop Learning, Start Doing
You know as well as I do that there is an infinite resource at your fingertips almost 24 hours a day… unless you sleep with your phone… then, yea, 24 hours a day. How many times have you sat down at your computer to actually get something done and an hour and a half later all you have done is read two blogs and check your Facebook?
You justify reading the blogs by telling yourself the information will be useful, and you justify checking Facebook because you plan on going to your business profile to leave a post or check if anyone responded to your latest post. But here you are, almost 2 hours have gone by and you can barely recall what the blogs were about and you never even made it past the news feed on your personal profile to check your Facebook business page. Sound familiar?
Well, you are not alone. I personally do this almost every day and though they won’t always admit it, most of my friends, coworkers, family and everyone in between does the same.
I am here to say it is OK! You are thirsty for knowledge and there is so much out there you just want to soak in as much as humanly possible. That quest for knowledge is passion at its root and that longing to better yourself and your business is what separates you from the heard. BUT, and that is a big BUT (sir mix a lot
you need to know when to stop reading and start doing. So here are 4 methods that work for me:
1. Define your Wildly Important Goal (or WIG )
In the book “The Four Disciplines of Execution“, author Jim Huling explains the WIG concept which involves defining the Wildly Important Goal for every week. The ONE thing that you personally MUST accomplish if you don’t want to feel completely worthless on Sunday night. I say take it one step further and define your WIG every day and execute on that thing every day without excuse.
2. Stay in Action Mode
It is really easy to slip into a la la mindset that leads you down the rabbit hole of Facebook and endless blog topics. Make the conscious decision to stay in “Action Mode” for at least 6 hours a day and avoid distractions. I can promise you that if you stay in action mode for 6 hours a day you will be unbelievably productive. How many times have you bounced around from task to task all day and not achieved a damn thing when the day wraps up? Too many times, right? Well focus on one thing at a time and stay in action mode.
A really good tip to stay in action mode and keep your focus is to set a timer on your phone or download an app that sets an alarm off after however many minutes you would like to work for, then gives you a 5 or 10-minute break. I recommend doing 40 minutes of focused work and 10 minutes off to stand, stretch, chug water, chat with someone, etc. This works very well for me and helps me stay focused and really knock tasks out.
3. Get Everything Out of Your Head
If you are like me, you will have more ideas pop up in your head before breakfast than most do in a lifetime. This is good for creativity but horrible for productivity. The BEST and ONLY way (in my opinion) to continue the flow of ideas without interrupting workflow is to get the ideas out of your head right away and onto paper or a digital version like Evernote. I keep Evernote open all day, and I have a note titled “Random”. I put everything that pops up in that note and revisit it once a week to see if anything is actionable as recommended in David Allen’s book “Getting Things Done”
4. Set Aside Time to Learn
Well since you are making such an effort to stay focused and remain productive for the greater part of your day, you better make time to learn! In this day and age, you have to stay ahead of the game to stay on top of your business. So make it a point to set aside time every day/week to read the informative blogs, to watch the super informative YouTube video or to read that awesome book on personal development.
With all of that said, I am no poster child for productivity but I am much better off than I was a few years ago and I am continuing to get better every day. What are your best methods for avoiding information overload and actually getting things done?