I excelled with my grades in college. I managed to top my class for my undergraduate and masters degrees. It may have been the worst thing possible for my career online. Let me explain.
I went to college/University in the late ’90’s / early ’00’s. It was a wonderful time. I was in early enough in the Internet and web that I reckon I had an unfair advantage over both my colleagues and my professors 🙂 I would spend my days soaking up what the web had to offer on my chosen subjects while my classmates were thumbing through crusty out of date text books from 20 years ago. Meanwhile on the web, I was connecting with world renowned experts in my areas of study and getting world class opinion which I was able to curate, analyse and re-package into my own well formed thoughts. I could spend days and days researching topics before eventually dumping the contents of my thoughts into whichever paper was due next. What’s more, while the web was exploding it was still small enough that it was possible to soak up just about every interesting piece of content before forming your own opinions.
Talk about developing bad habits!
Perhaps if I was still in academia these habits would be useful. In the real world, it’s extremely debilitating when it comes to trying to actually get fucking stuff done. Why? I’ll tell you why. Information overload. There’s just so much content being produced today – it’s unbelievably overwhelming! So much good content is being produced. Blog posts, long form articles, video tutorials, podcasts and on and on. And my bad habits mean I try to soak it all up. It’s futile. I love reading new blog posts, watching youtube videos, jumping into forums/Reddit. You name it – I love it. But what happens? I end up being the best read guy who never creates his own content. Back in the college days, I would jump off the information consumption merry go round because I had to – deadlines ensured this. (and because content was much thinner on the ground).
Today, I’m my own boss. Deadlines are self imposed. Ok – I gott make sure I pay the bills which helps enforce some level of discipline – but it should be oh so much better. For example, I sat to down to write a completely different post from this one about 14 hours ago. And here I am with a boatload of tabs full of fresh and interesting new things to read only a tab shortcut away. I’m lucky I made it to write this at all today. Many other days my Information bender will end with me falling asleep on the sofa.
And I know I’m not alone. Information overload provides more than enough fuel for bad procrastination habits.
Going on an Information Diet
I recently completed the Insanity exercise program. (Sidenote: Holy shit it’s tough – but great!). Insanity focuses on 2 things:
- High intensity max interval training
- Better eating
For me, this meant I developed a few good new habits over the course of a few months. Namely:
- I exercised 6 days a week. Consistency became a habit.
- I learned the value of short, intense burst of focused energy. Meaning, short bursts of focus can be way more effective than hours of half focused activity.
- I cut down the quantity and improved the quality of the food I ate.
So it strikes me that if this worked so well in the real world, perhaps it’s time I apply this disciplined regimen to my online efforts?
So as of today, I’m going on an Information Diet. I actually wrote that phrase before I knew it was a book. But from the little I’ve read about it (again trying to curtail getting sucked into reading too much about it!) it sounds exactly like what I need. I’m eating way too many mental calories. I suffer from Information Obesity. Just like physical diet, I need an Information Diet to kick the bad habits and get my head in shape. I’ve no doubt that if I can get my head in shape that I can turn this blog into one of the worlds best resources for online entrepreneurs over the next 2 years. So that’s my goal.
My Information Diet is completely self prescribed and I’m going to experiment with various different approaches to see what works best for me to spend more time producing and spend less time consuming.
I firmly believe that Information Overload is destroying more online businesses today than anything else. The irony of all ironies is that I’ll be producing yet more content for you dear reader to help you combat this problem once I’ve battled my own demons. But I think the key is trying to find the right balance between production and consumption.
Let’s see what works.