A few weeks ago, I told you about the importance of turning off the noise, which would be the constant bombardment of emails, Facebook, news, and phone calls. You’re far more productive if you don’t have that continuous interruption. But I want to go even further this week and tell you what that TMI (too much information) is really doing to you and your company.
We’re lucky enough to live in an age where we carry the world’s greatest libraries, weather station, information tool, television, mailbox, and phone around with us everywhere. It makes us more knowledgeable, but it also can be overwhelming. Having access to nonstop news, to people feeling that they can get an answer from us immediately and at any hour, or to an overwhelming tide of info about other people’s lives – that can make us feel like we’re drowning in information. And that’s not good.
We’re being bombarded by irrelevant information – things that we really don’t need to know to get through our workday or to run our companies. And what is that doing to us? It takes our attention and energy away from what’s REALLY important.
For example, if you have business news on in the background as you work all day, then you’ll see a rollercoaster ride of ups and downs in the stock market. Or if you click on CNN on your computer, you’ll be hit with horrible events and tragedies from around the world. That can only increase your sense of worry – especially over things that make no difference to your business.
That news can also increase your fear, making you less likely to take risks or to try new things in your company. Studies show that seeing all that scary news has a negative impact on our mood and our sense of well being. And even if you are just checking Facebook, you’re seeing those articles and news flashes as your friends and friends-of-friends like them or respond to them.
Checking email, texts, and Facebook obsessively can also make you feel like you’re being pulled in 20 directions at one time. And the sad thing is that more than half of those things aren’t important at all. But it’s almost a reflex to respond to them in some way now, and that’s a very bad habit.
All of those distractions are keeping you from being your most creative and idea-generating self! They’re keeping you and your company from getting to your goals more quickly, to finding the success you crave. And you’re allowing them to have that power over you!
Two of my favorite authors have recognized this scary trend and have talked about solutions that work. First, Tim Ferris, who wrote 4 Hour Work Week, says we need to put ourselves on a Low Information Diet. We need to turn off all the noise and only pay attention to information that helps us do a better job, or to news that will truly impact our company.
And in Steven Covey’s book Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, he says that we need to focus mental and physical energy only on things we can control – so we have to forget about obsessively checking the weather, or worrying about traffic before we even get in the car.
So how do we put ourselves on that Low Information Diet? You already know the answers if you think about it. If you work with a TV on, turn it off. You’re taking in that information, even subconsciously, so cut off that flow.
Eliminate all irrelevant information by taking all those bookmarks off your browser. It’s too easy – and tempting – to just click a button and check the news quickly. Or to see the score on a game. Don’t make it easy!
You should also turn off ALL notifications on your phone and/or tablet. And I mean all. You do not need to know that someone liked your Instagram post, or that a tweet mentioned you, or that someone responded to you on Facebook. That is not important to your job or to your company, so shut it all down.
On your computer, make it a habit to log off from your email and Facebook once you’ve done a check for the day. Force yourself to have to log back in to get any of that info – if it takes you longer to do it, it gives you more time to consider if you really NEED to do it.
Use your Do Not Disturb function on your phone. That will screen all of your calls when you’re trying to be creative or work on your cash flow. You have to be able to focus on your work without distractions. That will make you more efficient and will help you get through your tasks more quickly and with a clear mind.
And if you work with others in your offices, shut the door. Make it a can’t-break rule that you must not be disturbed when the door is shut.
If you set these rules for yourself, and stick to them, you will be able to get more done in a much shorter amount of time. And you’ll keep yourself focused on what needs to be done. I guarantee it will make you more creative and better at generating new ideas, too!
So what do you think about the Low Information Diet? Let me know in the comments section below!