Managing Information Overload

information overload

Are you experiencing information overload?

With the widespread use of automated email software, landing pages, free online offers, junk mail, and other tactics to get your attention, information overload is the result. You are susceptible to your email address or other data being shared on a regular basis. For the promise of a free ebook, checklist, or webinar, many sign up only to become the recipient of endless emails, texts, instant messages, or phone calls.

Sometimes, you may choose to receive emails from someone called Amanda, which is fine, but she gives or sells your contact info to her partners, affiliates, or other business associates.

Or, you visit a website which saves your cookies.

Or, your employees are cc’ing you on a string of emails.

Next thing you know, your voicemail, mailbox, and inbox are full of a constant stream of new information that can suck up your time.

Information overload can rain down even heavier on industries like information technology, science, and finance.

How to Manage Information

You have now entered the Information Overload zone. Your task is to not let this overload hijack your focus, efficiency, and sanity. Business information management is becoming increasingly important in the corporate world, so it’s crucial for business owners to keep up the pace. 

Here’s some ideas on how to manage information.

Your Role In Your Information Overload

  • Start by having the mindset to let go. Often, business owners feel they must touch or control everything. It’s OK, we’ve all done that. But, to be truly productive and not waste our precious time, we have to turn some control over to others.
  • Delegate! Assign a staff member or personal assistant (PA) to scan, review, and manage information for you. If you are solopreneur (no employees), then hire a freelance PA. The cost of your time to cull through a bottomless pit of information is worth far more than the cost of a freelancer.
  • Take note when an offer requires that you release personal or business data.

information overload

ASK yourself if this material warrants releasing your own information overload and receiving further contact from this source –

  • If the answer is “no,” then STOP. Don’t enter or give away any of your data. Remember, most of the content or inside info that is being offered can be found by a focused Google search.
  • If “yes,” then you might want to make a note to yourself or someone else to unsubscribe or not reply when you first receive contact from that source.
  • Avoid signing up for automated notifications or alerts.
  • List all your email addresses (personal and business) and choose whether they should be checked daily or weekly.
  • Identify favorite information sources for online content such as blogs, newsletters, and columns and for printed material such as mail, magazines, or newspapers and texts or voicemail on your phone. Tips:
    • Limit the number of favorite information sources to a certain number. You can do this by content type or just a maximum total for any reading material.
    • Be sure to include sources with whom you have a business or personal connection in order to nurture the relationship.
    • For a certain week or month, you can inform PA to look for certain specific topics only.
    • To reduce the pile, list those sources which should automatically be trashed.
  • You can develop a system of marking physical items such as magazines, mail, or publications for a different disposition:
    • F – file
    • S – send to a third party (such as lawyer, bookkeeper)
    • RL – review later
    • C – cancel
    • T – trash

Of course, you may have your own system for marking. Just be consistent and have a tickler system for revisiting material at a later time.

The PA’s Role: Delegate to Reduce Your Overload

  • Read or review each information source content (whether in mail, email, text messages, or voicemail):
    • As instructed, delete or throw away all unwanted information.
    • Write a short synopsis of each favorite information source:
      • In a single list, show only the information source, content title, and a one-sentence summary of content that, as needed, includes costs, dates, and times
information overload

Examples:

  • GoDaddy.com | How to show up first in search engine results | Offer for $99 one-hour webinar on 11/15 at 3:00 pm EST
  • Brad Shelton | Here’s your gift! | A link to PDF entitled “How to Handle Employee Absenteeism”Based on summaries, request for P.A. to read full content or watch webinar, then compile notes on content for you.Have them identify new sources that have unique, helpful, or relevant content.

Examples:

  • PsychForBiz| Understanding different workplace personalities | Link to blog on their website
    • Michele Jackson | Offer Ends Tonight | Offer for new SEO approach for $29.99/month

If not desired, request P.A. to unsubscribe, delete, or trash.

  • Identify duplication of content (partners & affiliates cross-sell each other’s events or offerings).
    • Delete the senders who duplicate information from existing favorite information sources.
  • Conduct online searches, keeping strictly to finding the material requested.
  • Optionally, the PA can track metadata from favorite information sources, which may be used later to reduce the volume even further:
    • Frequency of information such as emails, texts, or phone messages
    • Category of content (email marketing, SEO, social media, etc.)
    • Type of offerings (webinars, systems, events, articles, etc.)
      • May note whether offerings are free or have a cost.

When reviewing summaries from a designated assistant, stay focused on your reading by avoiding all other distractions and having a clear workspace. You may even choose to go to an empty conference room or nearby café. Another good idea is to review the material at a time of day when your head and schedule are clear.

Conclusion

Information overload may seem like a fact of life, but it’s really something we allow when we don’t have a plan to manage it.

 

small business coach

Developing An Apprenticeship Culture In Your Small Business

Apprenticeship Culture In Your Small Business

Apprenticeship in the Past

Back in the day, apprenticeship was a commonly used concept in businesses. At the time, every restaurant kitchen or the merchant’s back office had their own apprentices. The apprenticeship culture in your small business involves a lot more than just finding the responsible person for something that went wrong. This was the way that business owners educated and taught new skills to young people.

Apprenticeship in the Present- Not Sink or Swim!

Now we have universities, colleges, and many different training and workshops that allow young people to gain new skills. So when they arrive at the workplace for the first time, they will already have some knowledge. Maybe this is how the all too common “sink or swim” business practice evolved. However, more and more often, we see young people leaving college unprepared for real life.

Apprenticeship is for New and Existing Employees

Even the ones who have taken the time to do some internships need a close mentorship. This is how apprenticeship culture is integrated into today’s businesses. However, there is a key point that many small businesses tend to forget about: the apprenticeship culture should not only target new employees. It should also target the existing employees.

Why Is Apprenticeship Important?

When you want to have a successful small business, the business owner/manager, of course, has a key role. The idea that the business owner who only orders what needs to be done is no longer accepted. Instead, the role of the business owner is a lot more complex than it used to be. Today the business owner needs to coach each one of the team members. After all, this is the only way that every employee knows exactly his responsibilities and he knows how to execute them properly.

When business owners don’t take an active role within the apprenticeship culture, the small business won’t thrive. At the end of the day, whenever a deadline isn’t met, when there is a problem in the production line or in the distribution, no one knows who is responsible. So how can you improve your business if no one knows exactly what they need to do and how? This isn’t possible.

Motivating Your Employees Through Apprenticeship

The apprenticeship culture involves a lot more than just finding the responsible person for something that went wrong. In fact, the apprenticeship culture has another main goal, probably even more important than the first one.

Let’s say that you decide to hire someone for a position in your small business. Just imagine that this person will be the one responsible for defining new proposals to attract your biggest clients. You, as the small business owner, know that you did a good job hiring this person because he showed you that he was up to the job. So, you just hand him the task.

Killing Employee Motivation

The new employee, ready to show his appreciation for being hired and to be a part of such an important task, works as many hours as he can and he delivers what you asked before the deadline. So you meet with these big customers but you never tell the employee anything else about the meeting. You just keep asking him to do other tasks. You have just killed your employee’s motivation.

The fact is that this new employee, who is eager to show his value and skills, also wants to learn. In order to improve, he needs to have feedback. Your feedback! He needs to understand what he did well, what he could have done better, how to do it better, and what tools or skills he needs to improve. Without this feedback, the employee can’t know if he is doing a good job a poor job, or anything.

Building a Loyal Team Through Apprenticeship

As you can see, an apprenticeship culture should be a part of every small business. And the one responsible for it should be the business owner. The business owner should see himself as a part of the team, the link between the different team members who are always there to help each one of them as well as to explain to them what they need to do and how.

While the apprenticeship culture, or the way it is used now, has changed a bit, there are still many small businesses who continue to adopt an old-fashioned apprenticeship culture. Why? The reason is simple. Many small businesses don’t have the resources to attract the best-trained employees.

Hiring Employees With No Bad Habits

So, what they do instead is that they hire apprentices. They are usually young, extremely motivated and skilled. In other cases, when a small business is growing, it is time for the business owner to decide on the best approach when they need to hire. While for some companies hiring someone with experience in the area is crucial, other businesses prefer to employ someone who can simply dive-in into the business without any bad habits or preconceived ideas.

Conclusion

No matter what you prefer or how you do it, developing an apprenticeship culture is a must in every small business. An Employee Delegation Plan is one of our 36 Coaching Modules Bullets that we focus on with our clients. Here’s an article on the Top Ten Strategies to Retain Your Employees.

 

small business coach