When I first decided to launch my business, I wanted to soak up every piece of information I could find. I didn’t want to miss a thing…just in case I needed it!
Huge information overload.
Unfortunately, I felt the same when I became a mother, found a new hobby, joined the school Council, decided I wanted to eat healthily (can you detect a pattern here?). All of these areas of my life meant increasing amounts of information, resources, apps, FB groups, ideas, to do lists…but all of this information wasn’t actually helping me. I was just experiencing information overload – filling my head but not being able to respond to it.
A Mass of Mental Clutter
It was just mental clutter.
Information that I ‘might’ need was crippling the development of my business, and the progress of my own personal goals – I lost clarity and stopped being productive. Instead, procrastination and paralysis took over, and I felt out of control, disorganised and cluttered.
I’m a from the computer era. I love the internet, but it’s rise was causing my downfall. Lack of focus and productivity due to the distractions of technology and ‘Bright shiny’ object’ syndrome were sucking my time, energy and happiness within myself.
I’ve worked hard to reduce the sense of information overload I felt about all of the content, ideas, and to do lists that was keeping in my mind overwrought. I overcame the need to know everything – to have the information “just in case”, and the bad habit of storing too much in my brain.
Here’s How I Overcame Information Overload
1. Write everything down.
As soon as I noticed my mind churning over lots of things to do and remember, I get it all out. The act of writing provides instant white space, and something much more tangible than thoughts and things to remember. Once on paper/ screen they become action items, decisions made, and I don’t have to keep them in my brain anymore
2. Find a place for everything.
Like a lovely uncluttered home that is easy to clean, easy to use and easy to find everything, my mind needed de-cluttering. Setting up structures, routines, planning templates and having a place to record my ideas, things to do, dates etc is necessary to reduce stress and feel uncluttered. Systems are boring, but boy are they important for that mental stability and clarity.
3. Set goals to create direction and build momentum.
This is so important as it continually helps me decide what to focus on, and what to say no to – even which emails or blogs you choose to read, or not read. I only need to focus on ‘the next step’, without getting overwhelmed by the end goal, which often seems scary.
Again, pulling the focus into what I need to do now, instead of spending (wasting) time with a ‘just in case’ approach helped me manage my time better, without falling down Google rabbit holes.
Bonus Planning tip: it also takes away the decision making process later in the day when I’m tired.
Daily planning helps me with my To Do List, but also how long to spend on each item, so there is clarity and productivity, which help curb the tendency to keep going until it’s ‘perfect’.
5. One Place for Everything
The additional problem of information overload is that I ended up using multiple places to store everything. I had diaries, lists, file managers, apps, notebooks, email providers, spreadsheets …managing all of these added to the overwhelm.
My solution: I use Evernote for my business, family and personal life, and it has been key to reducing my mind clutter, and refining what information I keep.
6. A Focus on Health
As soon as I made my health a priority, I noticed my focus improve. I could make decisions quicker, because I was focused and had clarity – usually after a great work out and a good sleep. I became better at stopping the cycle of negative thoughts, and I had more energy – both of which impact on my mental clutter and sense of balance and resilience when overwhelm and procrastination creep in.
7. Be Mindful
My busy mind undoubtably increased my sense of rush. I worked on slowing down physically and mentally, and to do that I had to be more mindful – be present – and notice how I was, and what I was doing.
Rushing was really just a bad habit, and I work constantly on breaking that habit
Mindfulness as a parent, as a coach, a wife and friend help me feel like I have better balance, because I can make better choices for myself, and I know that when I serve myself well, everyone else around me benefits.
Aerlie Wildy is a Business and Life Coach helping online business women transform the way they work to make it sustainable. #nomoreburnout