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Are You Addicted to Information?

I subscribe to about 85 or so blog feeds.

I keep an eye on trends, social media and generally whats happening with the top websites in my field.

I read for at least one hour before I go to bed.

All under the guise of research.

But to be honest its not, this it is to satisfy my need:

  • to know what’s happening in my industry
  • to keep in touch with people
  • to establish myself as an authority for business purposes

It is not the case of information overload, this is information over-consumption. It is all for selfish purposes.

I am addicted to information. I get high on it and I thrive.

I fill every single idle moment with information – at my free will. Why should I blame it?

The problems starts though, when have no time left over to write.

And worst of all, I come out feeling like, everything has been said, what’s the point. It just sucks my motivation and creativity dry.

The result in information overload and overwhelm – but of my own accord!

When Information Starts to be a Problem:

Huge Time Suck

Red flag – You are spending too much time looking up relevant articles, posts, material to bookmark.

If you get just one hour to work on your writing, it doesn’t you any good if you spend 49 minutes looking at everybody else’s.

All that is good until it takes up so much of your time that you have no time left – to write. Cut back.

You Feel Everything’s Been Said, Why Bother?

Red flag – You struggle to find an angle for anything you write.

You just are not motivated to write. Any time, you want to, you get bogged down by that thought that you recently saw a similar post on a bigger, more famous blog. Who is going to read yours?

Keep in mind:

  • Other people are probably not reading everything on the topic. You might be doing it because it is part of your job, but it might not be the case for everyone.
  • Although everything has been said, you are going to say it in a new manner. Your post will be a winner if you can provide fresh insights. It doesn’t have to be entirely original, but make sure your point of view adds something to the material
  • It’s nice to be reminded once is a while.

A Form of Procrastination

Red flag – You are doing research as a means to escape writing. There could be number of reasons why you are not writing and instead taking the research route.

It could be that you are afraid of your work will not be well received, or you feel inadequate; you are not good enough. Or it could be other issue entirely.

According to Clay Johnson, author of Information Diet

Over-consumption has all kinds of other individual consequences — cognitive ones like a poor sense of time and shortened attention spans, or social ones like shallower relationships. Let’s not forget the physical ones — stress, hypertension and sedentary lifestyles are nothing to laugh at. We’re not sedentary because we’re silently meditating. We’re sedentary, usually, because we’re consuming too much information.

Despite popular belief, less is MORE.  Yes: Less is MORE

You need uninterrupted time for synthesizing information. Gathering all this information is good but you must reserve chunks of time for reflection.

How do you do that?

Steps to Deal with Info Over-consumption

Step #1

Measure how much you’re consuming. Keep time sheet of exactly how much time goes into it. See if you indeed have a problem.

Step #2

Adjust your consumption habits. Start your media consumption with the things that are the most important to you: your site and community,  then your professional communities, then the  international scene.

Step #3

Own your computer. Try and get rid of anything that notifies you of a new distraction. Your inbox number, Google+, TweetDeck, Facebook updates. Get rid of it all the. End the battle for your attention on your computer. It’s your computer, not Google’s.

Since I have identified my propensity to consume too much information, way more than I can handle, more than what I will ever need, I am cutting back.

I am not saying it is going to be easy.

But diagnosing a problem is a problem half solved right?

I am going to time myself how much time I spend looking for info – and doing everything except writing.

It is going to be one tough battle.

Do you have a similar problem? Leave a comment for me! 🙂

Have you taken my 3-minute Client Attraction Quiz? Check it out now, it’s awesome! :)

22 Comments

  1. Desiree Says :
    Posted on January 23, 2012 at 4:10 am

    Wow, it’s as if you were reading my mind!! I have been cutting back slowly, generally because I want to spend more time blogging this year. It’s hard for me to give up anything because I feel like I want to know what’s going on; it’s so true that if you are spending too much time on any of the areas you mentioned, you are definitely running on overload. I have been on overload for a couple of years now, so have made the decision this year to make worthy connections with people… And that means paring down to those who really matter to me.

  2. Leigh Says :
    Posted on January 23, 2012 at 5:41 am

    Great post Marya! This at such a good time for me. Today I was thinking of my “BLOGGING A.D.D.” and the great post I was going to write about it…too bad I burned three hours researching and not writing!
    Back to the drawing board with my editorial calendar. I need to put realistic time limits on my tasks(research, writing, editing, etc.)and stick to them.

  3. Sarah O Says :
    Posted on January 23, 2012 at 7:44 am

    Hi Marya, it’s funny I just wrote about this very thing over on my Grown Up Mom blog. You can check it out here: http://grownupmom.wordpress.com/2012/01/19/addicted-to-information/ (if you want to overload yourself with even more information..;-) Actually it’s more just a funny story about my frustration.)

    I’m trying to figure out ways around this conundrum myself. One goal is to start my day with writing instead of checking email and RSS feeds. Don’t know if I can stick to that yet. It truly like an addiction!

    I started out the year promising myself that I would just focus on what I have already learned instead of endlessly following links to find new blogs, new sites, more interesting cool info. But I find it so hard to resist! Maybe we need to start a support group?

  4. hypnodude Says :
    Posted on January 23, 2012 at 7:44 am

    I’m having the same problem, I guess I have around one thousand ebooks of which I’ve read maybe just 100. Well I have more or less the same amount of real books at home but at least I’ve read 95 percent of them. 🙂

    Anyway, given that at the end we can find more or less the same kind of information everywhere, or in many places, what’s needed to remain informed and up to date is to focus on some good blogs and stick with them. Find out those who are not just affiliate money making machines or sales funnels and provide relevant and honest information.

    Example: to stay up to date with blogging I stick mainly with The Sales Lion, Danny Brown and For Bloggers By Bloggers and its writers, sometime adding other relevant places. To improve my writing I read here and another couple of places. This way I can remain informed, learn new things and interact with fellow bloggers. I usually stay clear of social media for the same reason. They suck time and ROI is not so relevant. But this might also be because I don’t have so many followers or connection there.

    Plus from time to time I unsubscibe from newsletters which have the only goal to push affiliate links and very little else.

    As you say if your goal is to write and interact with serious bloggers than the time to get information and socialize must be kept to a minimum.

    We all have a life outside the net right?

    Great post Marya. 🙂

  5. Josh Sarz Says :
    Posted on January 23, 2012 at 9:37 am

    Hi Marya. I used to subscribe to a TON of blogs until I realized I was too busy reading stuff that I was never interested in.I just subscribed because I didn’t know better. It takes so much of our time and we should definitely just read from the blogs that interest us, not everything under the sun.

    I talked about something similar in my last blog post. I did some unsubscribing a couple of weeks ago, and since I’m still commenting here, it goes to show you’re still in the few people that I continue to follow. Heh

    Have a nice day, Marya.

  6. Rashmi Says :
    Posted on January 23, 2012 at 10:48 am

    Good one…this is exactly what happens so often and the posts stay behind in the drafts.

  7. Yuri @ profoundtigger Says :
    Posted on January 23, 2012 at 11:54 pm

    I’m quite the guru when it comes to information, I don’t normally subscribe to a lot of blogs because my e-mails is jammed pack with emails. What i often do, is use search engine to search for all my questions whenever i’m quite confused about blogging. I’ve found myself finding some very helpful blogs, and not alone after reading about SEO, pageranking, and etc… I’ve started getting highly addicted in finding ways to improve my contents.

  8. Deirdre Reid Says :
    Posted on January 24, 2012 at 1:06 pm

    Yes, I’m like you. I love to read, absorb, think and make connections between what I’m writing and what I might write about. I set a timer on my phone. I do that to not only limit my time in my Google Reader, but also to get up out of my chair and stretch my hips. When I’m done reading I close the Reader tab. I read a lot. I have to keep up with my niche (association management). I read writing, freelance, marketing and social media blogs. And then there are the blogs for my head. Cooking and yoga blogs. Blogs written by friends. Local blogs….

  9. Yasna Says :
    Posted on January 24, 2012 at 2:18 pm

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this. I absolutely appreciate that someone else conceptualizes excessive research — wanting to be informed — in this way. I know that for me, in my academic and creative writing, much of it has to do with looking for permission from the content I’m scanning to write what only I can write, even though I’ve convinced myself that I just want to be informed. It’s almost as though I’m looking for the material to say, “No one has ever in history said anything (ever!) about this, so someone should write about it now!”

    As you mentioned above, even if someone has already “said” what I want to say, they said it in their way. Now, I’ll attempt to say it in mine and take comfort in knowing that ideas develop, they change, and this is how niches are carved. It is very wise to look at your own ideas like this, and also very freeing.

    Thanks for this reminder!

    Yasna

  10. Rajiv Says :
    Posted on January 25, 2012 at 3:02 am

    This was an amazing post…straight to the point. I do sometime feel the same problem of Info – overload or over consumption, whatever u wanna say. However this sometimes does nothing more than wasting ur time.
    great post !
    Reach me at Krazy Memoirs

  11. Di Mace | Word Swords Says :
    Posted on January 25, 2012 at 5:03 am

    Brilliant! You are so right that more reading time doesn’t alwaya equal better/more writing time.
    I am ashamed to say how many books I have in the ‘to read’ pile, let alone on the Kindle (and its soooo easy to wickedly hide them there from view so the guilts don’t set in). Then there is the normal email load, trillions of rss and blog feeds, e-books and other various work-related reading. Exhausting to think about, now that you’ve made me 🙂
    I’m looking forward to hearing more on the progress of your Word-Intake Diet. Perhaps if we all unplugged more often it may help – but then we’d need to develop tools (or substitute/surrogates) to help with the cravings…..?

  12. Laura Says :
    Posted on January 25, 2012 at 5:39 pm

    I use it to procrastinate. I’m doing it right now.

  13. Amanda Says :
    Posted on January 26, 2012 at 4:06 am

    This is a great post!

    And this is totally me.

    It is something I have been feeling convicted about for a long time now – that I am just so addicted to information, at the detriment of never chasing down my own dreams of writing/blogging. I spend so much time consuming information, that I never take the time to put anything back out.

    Thank you for taking the time to write this! I really appreciate it, and I especially appreciate that I am not the only one 🙂

  14. Shlomo Says :
    Posted on January 30, 2012 at 3:39 pm

    Of course, when I subscribe to your blog it adds to my information overload. 🙂
    You have identified a huge problem. I went through my RSS feeds at the end 2011 and dumped a lot of things that were no longer adding value. (Yours is still there.)
    Just last night I dropped two VERY popular blogs. I decided that for now they are one of my distractions.
    Here’s a partial solution: My wife and I don’t subscribe to all of the same blogs. On the blogs I don’t subscribe to, she’ll share things that she thinks I like to see.

  15. Donna
    Posted on February 2, 2012 at 3:54 am

    I know the feeling of having to read so much quality information that I feel unsure that what I am going to provide or write is good enough to read. I just need to be confident and use the knowledge I gathered for my advantage. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

  16. Alekh Says :
    Posted on March 22, 2012 at 6:12 am

    Hi Marya,

    Very apt post, especially for a person like me. Everything you wrote makes so much sense. Off late I’ve been on this obsessive mission to intake as much information as possible and it has affected my evening runs and even office work (to an extent). Even during meals its hard for me stay away from my tablet (I partly blame these hi-def mobile devices for the new attraction to any-time content)
    Your point of reducing motivation to write also is spot on, cause at times you feel to insignificant, and then to make up for it want to do ever more ‘research’. And then is the sheer multitude of platforms, from wordpress to tumblr and twitter, forums, its overwhelming.
    I guess I have to make a time sheet and consciously balance all aspects. I’ve started using ‘read it later’ to help me postpone interesting articles for later and guess have to reclaim the writing priority slowly.
    Thanks for the wonderful article.

    Best

    Alekh

    • marya
      Posted on March 23, 2012 at 1:47 am

      You sound a lot like me. If this is the case then you will be dodging temptation at every turn and this is not easy. Sometimes I just give in … 🙂 All the best. Marya

  17. Linda Says :
    Posted on March 26, 2012 at 6:05 pm

    I think I’ve got a reasonably good handle on the ‘reading, research, reluctance’ and ‘riting problem – 15 minutes for the the first 3 and 15 mins for the writing. Now if I could just get the photo hunting down to about an hour, I’d be happy!

  18. Jaz Says :
    Posted on March 29, 2012 at 7:35 am

    I am really like that.. no ceasing of gathering info.. Do you call it Info Addict.. I hope not, it’s bad! =)

    thanks for sharing!

  19. Kadee Says :
    Posted on March 29, 2012 at 5:41 pm

    What a great post – thank you for sharing. I have this problem and have in the past wondered, too, if it was killing my creativity. I think I was hoping it was a phase rather than an addiction. All it took was you pointing it out to realize my instincts were right. Being a sponge is great, but you need to take the time to wring it out.

    Thank you for sharing and kicking my butt into action. All those print e-books and white papers I have pilling up on my desk ‘to read’ … they’re going straight to the recycle bin 😉

    Kadee
    @kadeeirene

  20. alanc230 Says :
    Posted on April 16, 2012 at 5:50 pm

    You might want to investigate the Strengths Finder at http://www.strengthsfinder.com/home.aspx. You may be interested to find out how an “addiction” to information is viewed in light of the “input” strength.

  21. Lisa Says :
    Posted on July 15, 2012 at 11:33 pm

    Information-overload. It’s time to gain control or better yet, simply respect our schedules.