Saturday, 7 February 2015

10 Steps to bust through Information Overload

I'm going to try a new kind of blog post today.  But first, I'd like to remind everyone that voting for the Steampunk Valentines weekly contest over on Spoonflower is now open.  Head on over and cast your vote! Remember, the top 10 voted for get passed on to Urban Threads to pick a winner who will have their design turned into an embroidery pattern, so when casting your vote, look out for the patterns you think would make great embroidery designs.  Look out for my entry: Love Letters by LilifloraPretty (I'll put a pic at the bottom of the post to remind you!)

And now:

motivation to stop procrastinating

*Long post warning!*

Taking on any new endeavour normally comes with some research.  Thanks to the wonderful connective powers of the internet, there's often a wealth of information on most subjects.  In fact, most of the time there's a deluge of it!  I've found this especially true as I get ready to relaunch my Etsy shop.
Between this amazing e-course from the Etsy Australia blog, blog posts I've pinned (see resources list below), and the wonderful free e-book from Create & Thrive, I can certainly say I feel soaked in the minutiae of how to set up a successful (hopefully!) Etsy shop.

The problem then becomes one of information overload, when you have so many ideas about what to do next, that you can't focus on just one thing to get you going.  I've also heard this called 'Analysis Paralysis,' where you keep thinking, planning and researching and stop short of DOING!  It can make you feel stressed, frazzled and overwhelmed.

So, how to you beat down the wall between planning and doing?  Here's 10 simple steps I've used to get myself going, and I hope they are helpful to you to!  Try them all or just the parts that resonate with you.

First, give yourself a break.

1. Get away from the computer (and your smart phone, tablet etc).  You heard me, just back right off from any device that gives you a way to keep researching.  If you've reached information overload point, new information is only going to add to the feeling, and you'll find you don't retain it properly anyway.  So, walk away from it, if only for 5-15 minutes, to give yourself a break and come back to it fresh.

2. Do something relaxing.  While you're away from the computer, take a moment to clear your mind.  Really savour a nice cup of tea (or your chosen comfort- beverage), take a wander around your garden (or your neighbours' if your gardening skills are as poor as mine), or even do a minute breathing meditation to give yourself a mental break.

3.  Do something productive.  This doesn't necessarily have to be something to do with what you're researching.  For example, I'm getting ready to start my Etsy shop, so I could make a small item or two.  Instead I went outside while the weather was nice and pulled weeds!  Do some tidying up, or a quick declutter of your office space.  Fold some washing or wipe the benches.  Make something, clean something, fix something, just DO something.  It helps to not feel 'stuck' if you're getting something done, even if it's not directly related to your goal.

4.  Do something physical.  Walk around the block (or run if you're really keen), or put on your favourite song and dance around the loungeroom.  Changing your physiology, getting the endorphins flowing, is a great way to give your brain a rest and will help you feel fresher and more focussed when you return to your task.

Now, revisit your research with fresh eyes.

5. Review your notes for the big stuff.  If you're anything like me, you make notes of important points as you research, whether you summarise the things that jump out at you, make dot-points of everything you read, or even copy and paste relevant material into a running Word document, it's time to go back over these notes.
Read through them carefully, noticing when you've repeated, written in capitals,  or underlined what you wrote.  These are obviously the most important messages you took away from your research and represent your priorities.  Use these as the starting point to taking action.

10 steps to busting information overload
6.  Do what's next.  Time to work out your next (or first!) move.  Taking the most important notes you just picked out, use these as a starting point for action.  Do something about each one of them as you come across them in your notes.
For example, I'd read through a bunch of blog posts about SEO (Search Engine Optimisation), and using Alt Tags in images on my blog to get picked up by Google and Pinterest searches.  Given that this was repeated, both in my resources and my notes, it was pretty important (and easy!) to learn what this meant and start applying it immediately.  So, I did!
Ditto for creating a Twitter account, something I had put off for so long, but with pretty much everyone in my field using it in some form for communication and promotion, it seemed foolish not to take the plunge.  So I just set it up.  It only took a few minutes (come say hi @LilifloraPretty!).

7.  Plan what's next.  Sometimes these important things can be quick and straightforward (like the two examples just given), while others can take more time and effort (like crafting my About Page or working out reasonable shipping rates in my Etsy shop example).  For these tasks, try breaking them down into smaller steps, some of which may be actionable straight away (in which case, do them as soon as you realise you can), and others that will follow as soon as possible. 
Using the example of writing an About Page, I can write the copy and upload some photos of my process.  However, I want to include a photo of one of my items beautifully wrapped and ready to be shipped to a lovely customer.  The hold-up is that I'm waiting for the tissue paper and ribbon to be delivered.  So I will set aside taking that pic until they arrive and do it as soon as they do.  I don't need to hold off on the whole task, just do what I can and complete it later.

8. Review your notes for the small stuff.  Going back to your notes, you've already picked out the things you thought were most important, but there's probably a bunch of smaller, less important tasks you could complete while you wait to be able to complete the bigger ones.  Tackle these less important things as you did the more important ones, by completing them as you come across them as best you can, breaking larger tasks into smaller ones to be completed when they can be.

9.  Keep reminders around you.  Make sure to keep a list of all the tasks, important and not so important, that you couldn't complete straight away.  Keep this list where you will see it (I put mine on the wall above my computer), and refer back to it regularly to check if there is something you can complete.

10.  Don't get caught up in perfect results from the get-go.  Almost everything we do in life, we get better at through trial and error.  Yes, it's wonderful that there's all this information out there from those who have been there and done that.  Learning from the mistakes and successes of others can short cut our own learning curves.  However, don't expect that just because you researched, planned and followed all the 'right' steps, that whatever you're trying to achieve will just automatically succeed, or be perfect from the outset.  We learn best from experience, and you only get that from going on out and DOING.  You can always tweak, refine and experiment, but only if you start first.

Hopefully you find this useful in motivating you to turn research into action.  Below are a few of the resources I've been using to get started with my Etsy shop, as well as to learn about promotion of your business or blog through Pinterest.  If you're on a similar journey, you might find them useful!  Let me know in the comments below or via Facebook (or Twitter now!) if you liked this post, found it useful or think someone else might.  You could even use the hovering Pin button (another important task that got done immediately!) on the title image!

How I more than doubled my traffic in less than 30 days - Amber Kristine
Eight ways to get noticed on Pinterest - Craft: Business
I opened an Etsy shop, Now what? - Liz Marie Blog
10 ways to increase Pinterest followers - The Tiptoe Fairy

As promised, here is Love Letter, my Steampunk Valentines fabric entry.  Thank you for reading down this far!
Steampunk Valentines Spoonflower Urban Threads weekly contest

Take care until next week!


1 comment:

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