Have you ever made a life change that involved needing to learn new skills? Maybe you’ve changed jobs or started your own business. If so, you know how out of control it can feel.
Not necessarily because you’re not up for it or lack conviction. No, it’s because it can be hard to determine what deserves the lion’s share of your attention and focus.
And what happens?
Well, if you’re like me, you’ve found yourself signing up for too many trainings, too many email lists, too many free groups.
Just…. too many.
Too Much of a Good Thing
It’s not that they’re not useful. They’re most likely incredibly useful, filled with tons of value.
The trouble is, if you get too buried in information, even good information, it can paralyze you.
I speak from experience here. I have done this very thing, over and over again.
And I know better!
The Next Great Thing
You know how it is. You start doing Google searches on what you need help with. You find something great. You go there, read it over, say to yourself, “This is perfect,” and sign up for the newsletter or a training course.
And these have a way of snowballing. They link to other sites. Other great sites. You click through, and through again.
I have found myself so far afield from where I started that I can’t remember what I was looking at to begin with.
And don’t get me wrong, most of it is great info.
There’s just too much of it, if I’m not careful.
Can you relate?
So what happens after you’ve opted into so many email lists or training modules?
Your inbox explodes! Your head is next.
How could it not? And more importantly, how can you ever keep up?
How To Avoid Inbox, and Head, Overload
Does this mean you now must unsubscribe from almost everything?
Well, maybe. There may be some that you could unsubscribe from and maybe revisit later, when time allows.
But there may be other methods of organization you could employ.
Here are a few suggestions you may find helpful:
1. Use bookmarks and favorites.
Instead of opting into something, consider adding the site to your bookmarks or favorites. I also use a tool called Evernote to clip and save articles and posts I want to revisit and keep handy. Like recording your favorite TV shows, they’re stored in a safe place so you can access them at your convenience.
2. Pare down and be selective.
Chose one, maybe two, training programs or sites to follow and work on daily, scheduling time to work on them until completion. During that time, eliminate distractions. Turn off your phone, turn off electronic notifications, and focus solely on your chosen program. When the time is up, stop and move on to something else.
3. Make use of snippets of free time.
Use snippets of free time to catch up on the emails you’ve signed up for. I use the word free here for lack of a better term, because let’s face it, how much of our time is ever free? But this is a good way to read some emails and messages you’ve signed up for, ensuring you don’t fall behind and get buried. These can be small chunks of time, 10 minutes here, 15 there. Don’t think marathon. Think sprint.
4. Get organized.
Organize your email inbox with labels for the emails you want to keep, but can’t read immediately. I have folders for all the email opt-ins I’ve signed up for, and instead of allowing them to fill up my inbox, I simply move them into their folders for future reference. I still have them, and when I’m ready I can access them, but they aren’t sitting in my inbox mocking me.
5. Give yourself a break.
Few things are worse than feeling overwhelmed. You feel out of control, like you’re accomplishing nothing. Chose a time each day to read simply for pleasure. Or to not read at all, but engage in some other activity you find relaxing.
Let your mind wander while you do something else. Slow down a bit. Give your mind time to organize thoughts that are scattered in your head. Sometimes you find you can concentrate better, solutions present themselves, and ideas form that you might otherwise have missed.
You need time to decompress. it’s just as valuable as your working hours. We’ve become conditioned to think that downtime is wasted time. Not true! Where do you think epiphanies come from? Almost always in those slow, quiet moments when we let our guard down and relax. Suddenly they pop into our heads seemingly out of the blue. Really, they were there all along. They just couldn’t break through.
So don’t feel guilty about those times where you breathe and give yourself time to chill. They may turn out to be some of your most productive times.
It’s easy to get excited when we want to learn a new skill, improve the way we’re doing things, and get better at whatever it is we do. And so we jump on every shiny object we see, and the result can be total overload and burnout.
Better to take on only as much as you can. Learn to know your limits.
Develop new skills.
Get better and better.
Without having your head, or your inbox, explode.
Did you enjoy this post? Can you relate? Leave me a comment below and share. And share with someone else. Post on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn. Wherever you feel someone may benefit.