You Probably Suffer From Chronic Information Over-Consumption. These 3 Tips Will Boost Your Productivity and Change the Way You Internet
You’re reading something on the internet or social media.
It links to something else. So you click it.
Then you read that. And there’s another link.
So you click that.
This cycle repeats for hours at a time. Farewell, productivity!
Yeah, we’ve all been there. Maybe that’s how you ended up here! The interwebs are an amazing place, but let’s face it, it’s a black hole that sucks all the focus out of your own little universe!
Of course, there is nothing inherently wrong with meandering along the edges of the internet abyss. After all, some of the best finds are by accident — like this article you’re reading right now!
Information consumption in excess goes too far by definition. Think of eating versus overeating. Overconsumption online — article after article, link after link — is the sneaky enemy of actually getting shit done.
Since you’ve spent your fair share of hours browsing the web, you know about paralysis analysis. It’s the idea that when we think things to death, that’s exactly what happens. We become incapacitated and totally unable to act.
You know what I mean. When starting a new project, that voice in the back of your head whispers, “I just need to learn one more thing. Then I’ll be ready. If I read a seventh article on the topic, I’ll be much better off.”
So you click. You skim. You watch. You tweet. You share. You click. You read.
Pretty soon, you’re on that seventeenth article.
If you’ve caught yourself doing this, I’ve got news for you.
Your condition is chronic.
But let me be the first to admit it: I WAS THIS PERSON! For too many years, I let my thirst for knowledge, expertise, and perfection keep me trapped in a nasty pit of inaction.
Don’t be that person.
Now that I’m on the other side, I realized my behavior was just an excuse. You may not even realize it, but “learning more” is a productivity-killing tool to justify procrastination.
I wouldn’t be doing you any favors if I just explained this, and left it at that.
What can you do about it?
As a recovering information over-consumer, I’ve found 3 hacks to bring my focus back to reality, climb out of that procrastination pit, and finally get shit done.
1. Plant unmissable reminders to combat the habit
To ease my appetite for information overconsumption, I scribbled one of my favorite quotes onto my bathroom mirror:
Reading and re-reading this everyday helped me stop worrying about getting every little detail right before I launch something new into the world. By placing this quote somewhere I always see it, its meaning gets embedded into my subconscious. Over time, it automatically becomes part of my personal ethos. This way, whenever I’m reading something and an idea strikes, I act on it immediately by taking the first step instead of trying to become an expert overnight through endless internet content.
Whatever it is you want to do, just get started. NOW. Choose the easiest, most attainable first step, and do that. Trust me, you’ll feel great afterwards because you’ve FINALLY made progress. Your project is now in motion!
2. Cut yourself off
When you’re in info consumption mode, set a timer. The Pomodoro technique is the perfect tool. I allow myself 25 minutes to read about topics I’m interested in. When the timer goes off, I require myself to take some action based on what I just read. This way, I don’t get bogged down in article after article. I get straight to what matters after a few minutes of learning — making shit happen.
3. Take one thing at a time
The worst consequence of information over-consumption is the feeling that you should do EVERYTHING. You take on too much and get very little accomplished as a result.
To combat this, when I’m inspired (which usually happens when I’m reading something), I want to take over the fucking world. TODAY.
I swear, I think I can solve every problem that has ever existed!
When I get like that, I let myself ideate — then I “write it and forget it”. I have idea lists in Evernote the length of a Jane Austen novel. Most ideas that pop into my head during peak-state thinking go to Evernote to die. That’s okay, because others end up coming to life as full blown business ventures.
The point is, don’t follow every idea down the rabbit hole of, “What if?” If an idea comes along that you can take action on right now, go do it — RIGHT NOW. Don’t read more about it. You’ll either end up distracted or fixated on some other topic. Take one thing at a time.
The only caveat to my third hack is this — learning is NOT doing. That first action step, by definition, is NOT more research. In my experience, more learning doesn’t increase productivity, and it leads to more distractions. If research is absolutely required (like if you’re launching a rocket startup to rival Elon Musk’s SpaceX), schedule time for research when you’re not in “the Zone.”
There you have it. Three hacks, three solutions.
The next time you feel yourself turning into an information whore, you know what to do.
Getting shit done,