Are You Suffering From Information Overload?

Affiliate Confession received an interesting comment from a reader back at the beginning of this month and it’s been bugging me for some time now. Binh from Binh.name made the comment on the Misconceptions About Making Money Online post that he reads other people’s blogs and comments for an astounding 8 hours a day.

While I do think it is important, especially for a beginning affiliate marketer or blogger, to read and learn how others make money, 8 hours a day of reading blogs would give almost anyone way more information than they could possibly use. In fact, information overload is a serious problem in our society today. Think about it, can you possibly digest all the information that’s thrown at you and more importantly, is the information you’re digesting useful? Does it get you closer to your goal of either working at home full time or being at a specific income level?

Several years ago my wife and I eliminated the newspaper from cluttering up our home, partly because the Florida Today is a useless fish guts wrapper, but more importantly because we decided we didn’t need the redundancy of information filling up our minds. We would watch the news, read the Drudge Report, scan the headlines at Yahoo News and get pretty much all the same information 3 or 4 times over. Why add a newspaper on top of that.

I’m sure you know about Pareto and the 80/20 rule. It applies to information as well. Translated it means that 80% of the information you come across provides you with only 20% of what you really need and 20% of the info you come across provides you with the 80% majority of useful info. One of the most important tasks to being effective as a internet marketer is to figure out which 20% of that info is really useful and trash the rest. Yes, I said trash the rest, because it is useless and wastes your time.

Check Out The 4 Hour Work WeekI’m reading a great book I was hesitant to pick up at first because of the title. I thought it was one of those cheesy get rich quick books, but The 4-Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferriss chronicles the life of a serial entrepreneur (who calls himself part of the new rich class) who travels the world and really only works 4 hours per week. You will hear much more about this incredibly useful book in upcoming posts, but a quote the author uses in the chapter entitled The Low-Information Diet struck me right between the eyes. He quotes the Nobel Prize winning Herbert Simon who once said, “A wealth of information creates a poverty of attention.”

The author then goes on to explain how he has nearly cut himself off from almost all news sources available. He doesn’t ever watch the news, ever. He has purchased only one newspaper in the last 5 years and he checks his business email once a week on Mondays for only one hour. Ferriss reads the headlines in the newspaper machines on his walk to lunch every afternoon and reads approximately 4 hours worth of business magazines a month, that’s it. He figures if the world is about to end, someone will probably let him know.

Ferriss is incredibly effective in his use of time and has tons of time left over to pursue a lifestyle of gallivanting around the globe enjoying the things he considers important. While what he does may not be important to you, he does exactly what he chooses because he is a master of only doing the things in his business life that are truly effective allowing him to live life on his terms.

Since eliminating the newspaper from our home we have drastically reduced TV consumption down to about 2 to 3 hours a week, I no longer read my email before 11:00 am, I rarely read the Drudge Report and I’m taking a serious look at the tasks I do everyday to see which ones bring results and which are just a waste of time.

As you reflect on the past year and consider the new year, maybe you need to finally ask yourself just what heck you’ve been doing with your time and information input and why you aren’t more effective in your internet businesses. I know I certainly need to do that.


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3 Responses to “Are You Suffering From Information Overload?”

  1. That’s something I’ve been working on myself. With a day job, I only have so much time to devote to my own pursuits. I’ve spent years studying what I want to do, but never seem to have time to pursue it. So I’m changing that. I’ve cut out most time suck activities, but my one concession to cutting down on the blogs I read is putting them on netvibes so I can see at a glance who’s updated and whether the topic interests me. Eventually I’ll have to cut that down too.

  2. Hey great point. I read Tim Ferriss’ blog regularly (uh… I guess that he is also contributing to the information glut). I read this book last year and it really opened my eyes to a few things I was doing way so wrong. I’ve said “no” to several opportunities in 2007 just because of the methodology I’ve developed since reading Tim’s book.

    I ran into a guy at B&N over the holidays with a stack of 3 Ferriss books. He was buying one for each of his adult children, 2 doctors and a Harvard law student, because he wanted them to be challenged. What a great dad.

    Lately, I’ve been reading some of the great resources Tim recommends in his appendix. Those are the resources that inspired him. Good stuff.

  3. I absolutely loved Tim’s book. Every chapter I was telling my wife, “You need to read this book, this is great stuff!” I just sent a copy to my brother in Tampa and I’ll giving a copy away here on the blog early in the next year. So, stay tuned.

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