This might be an unpopular opinion, but here goes: working with all of the information on the internet at our fingertips is a blessing and a curse. It's great to be able to look up anything we may need to use in our work, but information overload for freelancers makes it so we can't do the job we worked our butts off to land.
There's no need to feel ashamed of feeling overwhelmed; it's easy to feel like you're drowning in the sea of content nowadays!
It doesn't help that it's literally in our job description to be constantly connected to the internet, either.
However, if we're going to be our most focused, mindful selves, we have to find a way to stop the barrage of information overload for freelancers. Clearing out the noise will help us stay in the freelancer mindset that keeps us motivated and moving forward!
What's Information Overload for Freelancers Like?
Information overload for freelancers happens when have so much to process that we don't know where or how to start (and often, can't start). There are lots of factors of our work that lead to information overload. We're expected to be constantly connected to our Slack and email accounts as well as be well-read on the latest freelance techniques.
The constant influx of information and open tabs causes information overload for freelancers. In this state, we have trouble making decisions, feeling confident, and finishing work.
The logical way to deal with having too much on our plate is to reduce the flow of incoming information. However, that can be tricky for freelancers, as we need to be connected to do our jobs well.
4 Steps to Manage Information Overload
To reduce the stress we feel from information overload and slow the flow of information coming in, we have to nip some of our internet usage habits in the bud. These are all common habits to have in these tech-forward modern times, so don't worry if you're guilty of one or two…or all of them.
Information overload poses a big problem to our productivity, focus, and decision-making abilities – and wastes valuable time as well.
Information overload leads to problems with our concentration and can even create addictive behaviors. It has also been proven to cause people to make poor decisions because a large amount of information can confuse us!
So, how do we manage information overload for freelancers and take back control of our concentration?
1. Stop curiosity scrolling.
As freelancers, taking on diverse clients means we often have to do some research on our projects. Sometimes that research leads us further away from our work than we'd like, especially when we realize we've started to read articles that are irrelevant to the work at hand.
While it's a noble habit, getting informed on things you don’t directly need for your work only takes up mental space and distracts you from the task at hand.
Scrolling the internet is a fun activity, but doing it often (and especially during your working time) creates a habit that can morph into an addictive behavior.
Not only will your mind crave distracting scroll sessions at inopportune times, but your mind will have a harder time recalling the things you do need when it’s full of the things you don’t.
Tip: Contain your curiosity in your non-working hours to avoid developing information overload for freelancers (and a terrible habit to boot).
2. Stop checking multiple, similar sources.
The biggest culprit of information overload for freelancers is our habit of opening and working from multiple tabs. It's natural to look something up when you aren't sure, but reading many articles on the same topic isn't helping you.
We all want a sure, clear-cut answer to our questions. However, checking 5 similar articles will drive us straight to information overload due to all the content we're taking in and sorting through to find our answer.
On top of getting overwhelmed by content, reading multiple sources leads us to doubt our knowledge and ideas. One article might negate the other and leave us feeling even more lost than we did when we started Googling!
Skip the self-doubt and confusion that endless reading will lead you to. Choose the article that looks the most relevant and stop stressing over finding the "perfect advice."
3. Stop stressing over unread emails and unfinished work.
As freelancers, we have lots of different projects on our desk and clients in our inbox. Everyone feels overwhelmed sometimes, but the key to solving that is to realize that you simply can't be available for everyone all the time.
Constantly checking your emails is like letting an alarm ring every five minutes in your brain. It's distracting!
Perhaps your stress is less about unanswered emails and more about the pile of work on your desk. Maybe you feel like you just have too much to do, with new tasks and requests coming in by the day.
The solution to these problems is the same: organization!
We have to take control of the information coming in and the best way to control it is to organize it. Whether it's emails, Slack messages, or to-do tasks, set up a time frame which you'll check those every single day. Don't let yourself check up on these areas outside of the time frame!
Then, use tools like Trello or Asana to keep track of your responsibilities, so they aren't constantly crowding your mind.
4. Stop giving yourself unlimited time for scrolling!
This one is self-explanatory and straightforward. If you’re taking too in too much info, limit your intake!
There are some great apps that can monitor and even block our internet scrolling habits. Try a few out and see which works best for you. Then, keep it up.
What you do to manage information overload for freelancers? Let us know in the comments!
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