Are you a victim of Information Overload? Have you experienced blurry eyes, confusion, a feeling of time passing at warp speed? Do you have a panic attack if the link you clicked in a blog doesn’t open in a new window, and now you’ve lost the page you were on, and there were more links you wanted to visit, and the ‘back’ button isn’t working? AARGH!!!
Is your inbox flooded daily with blogs that you follow? Updates from a long lineup of favorite sites you try to read regularly? Do you begin to write and then run into a snag, go looking for the solution and get bogged down with the millions of places you can find the answer, and then…oooh! cool! So-and-so’s new book is out-gotta read the blurb!? By the time you get back to your writing you’ve forgotten the nature of your conundrum, but it’s still there waiting for you. Great, now you have to start all over looking for the answer. And so it goes.
For writers, especially new writers, the internet holds an abundance of information from which to glean all that a person needs to learn to write well. Authors, agents, editors, publishers, book bloggers, marketing gurus, readers and book sellers all offer tips, tricks, tools, links, advice, admonishments, recommendations, and warnings, as well as, excerpts and ads for their own products. Then there are the links from those folks to other writers books, websites, etc. It’s all so enticing. It’s your thing…learning to write a book or continuing your writing education, right? So, you really should read material from trusted sources to educate yourself, right? To seek out sources that can be trusted, you have to read what they wrote and learn what others think of them. This all takes time…you’ll get to your writing…eventually.
From my personal ‘trial and error’ method of learning, I have compiled a list of Seven Powerful Tips that truly help get information and distraction under control.
1. Prioritize – When you’re new to writing, you may tend toward reading and committing to memory every single bit of information available. DON’T! Choose the most pertinent offerings to the phase you’re currently working in. You don’t need to learn how to set up speaking engagements to promote your book, just yet. Focus on structure, characterization and the other elements of good writing. Start building your author platform. Save the rest for later.
2. Storage – RSS or Email? I use both, but am more comfortable with email (yes, I’m old school–or just old, you decide). If you use your RSS news feed, your subscribed blogs and newsletters filter into a program such as Google Reader to contain them until you’re ready to read. You will see your list of blog subscriptions, you can sort the postings, you can star them for later reading, share them on the web, and check out Google’s recommendations of posts you might find interesting. If you use your email inbox, blog posts and newsletters will turn up as they are written and they will be staring at you in bold letters until you read them or accidentally click on them. If the latter happens, will you feel obligated to read it right then, so you won’t wonder later if you did or not?
3. Sort – Sorting the information you want to save is as simple as creating folders. Name them by topic, such as ‘marketing’, ‘writing’, ‘publishing’, etc. In Google Reader, go to settings, open your list of subscriptions, create a folder with a name and insert the subscription or post there. In your email, create a folder for each subscription or specific topic and move the posts to the folders before or after reading.
4. Reject – If you have been away from your computer for a few days, or just unable to get to your inbox, you may have an overwhelming number of posts to sort through and read. If it’s all just too much to deal with, even after sorting, just hit the delete button. Don’t feel guilty. It’s really okay to do that. The information will still be out there in the blogosphere. You won’t suddenly become ignorant if you choose not to read a few posts.
5. Schedule – The most productive people schedule their tasks in manageable bites. Assign 2-3 time slots per day, 5 days per week, of 15-20 minutes each for reading blogs and newsletters that pertain to your writing. Only open your mail or your blog reader during those periods.
6. Rollover – The reading you can’t finish in the above time slots, and any ‘just for fun’ reading can be saved for the weekends, or any other time when you weren’t planning to write your story. Setting aside some relaxed time for extra reading will eliminate stress during the week when you should be writing.
7. Shut Down – When you are not scheduled to read posts, shut down your email or Google Reader window. As tempting as it may be at first, you must develop the discipline to write without the extraneous interruptions and distractions. Close your doors, close your windows, shut down your phones and just write…everyday.
Clearing away the distractions and managing all the information you gather is doable. I promise.
Do you have tips to share about managing information or eliminating distraction?
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