I'll admit it: Sometimes I'm thorough to a fault. I'm a research nut. If I could read articles and learn new things all day, I probably would. So, when I decided to take the plunge and officially call my freelance photography work My Business, I was pretty pumped that this weird research habit of mine could be put to good use. Adopting the title of Entrepreneur opened up a whole new world of things to learn and skills to hone that I couldn't wait to take on!
You can probably guess what came next…my email starting to fill up with hundreds of daily newsletters, my desk becoming more and more covered by paper lists of "things to look into," and my mind becoming tired and spacey after hours of staring at a screen. The quest for knowledge can be fun for those of us who eat up learning like candy, but too much of a good thing can become less than fun after a while. Especially when you forget to eat lunch for the umpteenth time!
It all came down to how I was spending my "off" hours…if I had budgeted myself any. At first, it felt ridiculous to allow myself free time because I had SO much to do starting my photography business from square one. Every single thing I wanted to tackle felt urgent, and you better believe that's a stressful headspace to be in day after day. Although I'm not at square one anymore, I still feel tempted to read every article that comes my way about anything remotely relevant to me, even in the evenings when I am supposed to be done working. I still feel the pull to read or watch videos about how to do things well rather than actually doing the things and learning from my own experience.
Can you relate to always feeling like there's "more," and not wanting to step away from your computer or phone screen for fear of missing something important? If so, maybe it's time to ask: What am I doing about this to get closer to a healthy balance of work and life, and limit my screen time so I can be more present in the world around me? I know for me, it's time. And here's what I came up with:
There are so many ways to approach this, but a big one I'm learning the importance of is curating my information sources. Remember all those email newsletter lists I'm on? I'm finally starting to evaluate which ones are actually useful to me right now. Not "might be useful in a hypothetical situation in the future." Right now. Because I know if I ever needed the information in some old email 3 months from now, I'd never be able to find it. I also know that if I join every newsletter list that looks like it could, maybe, at some point, be helpful, I will never have time to read them all, much less process all that information and reflect on how it could be helpful to me personally.
Some of those newsletter lists I joined just to get the freebie, but I think the major culprit causing my overflowing inbox is Information FOMO—I'll join a list "just in case" this person I've never heard of is super helpful, and realize later the person writing all those emails isn't someone I can relate to, and/or doesn't communicate in a way that is helpful to me or my business. Email newsletters are the most prevalent example of this in my life, but this also applies to blog posts, webinars, ebooks, video series, etc.
I think the most important way to curate is to evaluate who this person or company is that has an email newsletter. Do we have similar values and philosophies in work and/or life? Does their content inspire me or fill me with positivity? Do they offer actionable tips that actually apply to me? If I open their email, do I feel like I can't wait to read it through to the end because I know that I'll benefit, and maybe I could also send it to a friend who will benefit too?
If the answer to some of those is "no" on a regular basis, then I know that the person, company, or content itself isn't a good fit for me. If a few random emails are helpful but others are pushy sales pitches for something that doesn't apply to me, then I know personally, I can't trust that newsletter to consistently bring value to my life, and it's time for it to go. Sometimes it's a huge bummer to let go of things that still feel like they have potential, but the freedom from stress (and an overload of screen time) is so worth it.
Can you relate to Information FOMO? Do you think curating your information sources would help? If you've discovered your own ways to cut down on information overload, I'd love to hear about them!