Information overload is the new peril in daily project completion. It's easy to find yourself diverted, distracted, or simply bogged down with the tide of information that can arrive on your computer screen in the course of a working day. The internet, while bringing a revolution in accessible information like never seen before, is a tide that brings with it debris as well as treasure. It is taking longer for the intrepid explorer to search out what they need simply due to the sheer volume of web sites now in existence.
Whether you're engaged in researching, or writing, or group work projects, the chances are that you will be trudging through web site after web site gathering what you specifically need to complete the task at hand.
Here are my 5 favourite strategies for keeping on track and getting the job done without diversions or breakdowns on the hard shoulder of the information superhighway:
1. Questions, questions
Ask yourself constantly does this directly serve the purpose of what I am working on right now.
This is a yes/no question. Grey answers will lead to grey results in what you're trying to get done.
If your answer is yes, then all well and good and on you go...
If it's no - then leave it be. Literally, let it go and move on...
2. Trust Yourself
This is an extension of the above - if you answered no to your "purpose" question - then you have to trust yourself that if this new information is really of value for a future project, you will remember it.
Sometimes I literally say to myself "OK if this is really important, I'll remember it sometime in the future where it fits in with what I'm doing then."
That really does clear some mental space and saves a lot of time that might otherwise be spent vacillating, or taking a trip to diversion land.
3. Trust Yourself
No, that's not an accidental repetition. This time it's about trusting what you know. Let yourself reveal your knowledge on any given subject with the minimal reading. Research reading has to be specific and focused and question number one is, once again, very useful here. Make starting easy by working with what interests you first.
4. Set your Antennae
Keeping your specific task set in your mind is like tuning your radio to a set frequency. If you want to listen to some classical music and you keep your tuner set to scan you are only going to receive some occasional short and sporadic bursts of what you want to hear.
The same is true with your work, it's amazing how much more specific and useful information actually gets through when you are single minded in your approach to research and project progression.
It is literally like you can tune in to what you need and skip the distracting commercials and that is a powerful thing.
5. Get Creative
Visual creative planning is the single best thing I ever learned for project planning and completion for training courses, workshops, articles and books. My favoured system is Tony Buzan's Mind Mapping. If you've never tried Mind Mapping a quick Google search will reveal enough to get you started.
These are my personal 5 key tips for staying on track and having an enjoyable time while I'm there. If you have some of your own, I recommend you jot them down and have them near your workplace for some support and inspiration during times of information flooding!