Do you ever find yourself surfing Facebook, and next thing you know, you’re on someone’s site and downloading their ‘free thing’?
Well, this is the age-old way for many on line marketers to build their email lists, and basically ask for your personal email in exchange for something you value. It’s been done for a long time, and hopefully you’re seeing the pattern. But – what do you do with all the info-stuff?
Many of my small business clients have the same complaint to a common problem today: How do you stay on top of all the free reports, videos and downloadable information-stuff from the internet?
Recently, I cleaned out my downloads file and it was a daunting task! But, while processing the decisions of whether or not to keep information, I found myself following a similar thought pattern.
Information decisions begin from the inside…
When I’m inundated with information and feeling that overwhelm and panic begin to come in, I know it’s time to start asking what I call “inside-out” questions.
[Tweet “Pay attention to your reasons for downloading in the first place!”]
First, look for the ’cause’… what is the big reason why you feel the need to ‘opt in’ or ‘say yes’ to all the downloads? For me, when I started my business, I know that I had a few driving needs: I wanted to be an expert, I wanted to do things right, I wanted to be sure I had the information when I needed it… (and many more). But it was leading me down this path of info-hoarding and driving me nuts! Through time, clarity of my own business purpose, and finding my voice, I have realized that the ‘need’ to gather endless amounts of information were actually covering up my own ‘lack’ feelings of:
- not being or knowing enough,
- feeling stupid or unprepared, and
- fearing failure and humiliation.
A few things really have helped me unhook from this behavior:
- Accept that these feelings of lack are universal, and that it’s okay for me to have them.
- Then recognize these feelings when they show up, and simply notice them in myself, as in: “Oh, there you are again…! Hello!”
- Let the feelings occur without judging the feelings or myself for what they are.
- When they show up… acknowledge that I have everything I need right now. (THIS I believe is the true test of intuition.)
- And trust, that IF I need the information in the future… I’ll be able to find it then, in it’s right time.
The process outlined above calls us to listen deeply to what is going on behind the decision to download.
One of the great powers of wisdom that we can draw upon is our intuition. If you have put this intuition to sleep, it’s sometimes hard to hear when our intuition calls. The best rule of thumb, is to simply trust you’ll have the information you need when you need it.
[Tweet “Trust that whatever you need in the future will show up when you need it… because it will.”]
How to deal with all the stuff you’ve already stockpiled…
To purge your files – follow this decision making process:
- Recency – How old is this piece of information? Is it still valid, or is it old news? Do you need the information right now? Or in the near future? If no, let it go…
- Relevance – Is the information relevant to me or my audience? Will it be relevant in the future? If no, let it go…
- Repetition – Gone are the days for triplicate paperwork! With data files and back up copies, it is rare that you’ll need to keep repetitive information. So, as yourself these questions: Is the information repetitive? In other words can you find this information easily again in the future? If so, there is no reason to take it on as your own and assume responsibility for storing it. If you think you can find the information easily again in the future, leave it where it is.
[Tweet “Only keep information that you will need to retrieve in the future.“]
Filing your stockpile…
Now that you’ve purged your stockpile, it’s time to file your information for the future. You must create a system that categorizes and sorts the information that comes in, so you are able to use it in the future.
Follow these steps to file:
- Retrieval – Whenever you’re keeping information, it’s really important to begin with the end in mind: only keep information that you will need to retrieve in the future. You want to be sure that the information that you bring into your storage system is retrievable or else it is useless. With powerful online search engines and social media tools, much of the information that is out there today is retrievable with a thorough search tool. That said, having a database of information may be helpful to you and may save you a lot of time if you need to create information products, blog posts or articles. Before you take information into your system, exercise these three skills:
- Decide – Ask yourself: “Do I really have to have this information in my database? Does this information serve me or my clients in the near future? Do I need this?” Answers to those questions will help you eliminate much of what you feel you need to keep before you even stockpile it.
- Categorize – Once you’ve decided to keep information it’s very important to create a filing system that categorizes information in a way that it makes sense to you. One of the critical failures of most filing systems is that people follow ‘other’s’ systems, and don’t trust themselves to create their own. The process of file naming (both for categories and individual files) is very personal and is based on your many long and short-term memories. It is important to ‘go with’ categories that make sense to you. Sometimes categories don’t match other’s understanding, and sometimes they don’t even match each other… but that is okay, as long as it is meaningful to you. For instance some people may retrieve information by the name of clients or the name of people involved in projects while other people may prefer to categorize items based on project names. What’s important is to go with what you feel is right because your brain will resonate and be consistent when looking for that information the future.
- File – Gone are the days when you had to print paper out every time you found something interesting. With today’s online tools and apps it is very easy to stockpile information and save a lot of trees.
If you find yourself wanting to keep things on file so you can easily retrieve them again… the ‘information filing tool’ I recommend most is Evernote. Evernote allows you to create virtual notebooks, and tag information with categories making it very easy to retrieve in the future. You can save everything: pictures, images, websites URLs, screen captures… whatever your heart desires. But, just remember, the true test of an organizing system is your ability to find the information again and USE it when you need it.
What part of the process outlined above is most challenging for you to figure out for yourself? Please share in the comments below!