Is the only time you're offline when you're sleeping?
Do you get anxious if you're offline for more than a few hours?
Do you sit at your computer for longer than 30 minutes at a time -- without getting up to take a break?
If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, then you might just be content fried!
Lucky for you, Beth Kanter is here to help.
The well-known author, trainer & content curator recently spoke about content overload during a presentation at Scoop.it in San Francisco.
Today I am going to discuss her tips on how to:
- Recognize when you're content fried
- Rescue yourself from being content fried -- so you can get back to work
- Prevent yourself from getting content fried in the first place
What does it mean to be content fried?
Here's how Beth describes it:
- I can't read or post even one more article
- My head is spinning
- I've read so many articles on the same thing that I don't even know my name anymore
- Information overload!!!
It's definitely easy to feel overwhelmed by the amount of content available online.
Especially as a Facebook page manager -- where you're constantly asking yourself:
- Do I share a photo or link post?
- Do I share this content or that content?
- Will this content be interesting to our fans?
- How can I introduce or describe the content in a Facebook post?
- What time should I post the content to get the best response?
- How do I know if the content's source is reliable?
- Has this content already been shared by my competitors?
- etc. etc. etc.
It's no wonder you feel content fried!
But how fried are you exactly?
Luckily, Beth came up with a 10-question quiz to find out.
Just answer the following 10 questions & keep track of the number of times you answer "Yes".
Content Fried? Answer These 10 Questions
Remember: self-knowledge is the first step!
- When you start curating content, does it make you feel anxious?
- When you're seeking content to curate, have you ever forgotten what it was in the first place you wanted to accomplish?
- Do you bookmark or add links to your Scoop.it & other collections without reading or thinking about or annotating the article?
- Do you experience frustration at the amount of information you need to process daily?
- Do you sit at your computer for longer than 30 minutes at a time without getting up to take a break?
- Do you constantly check Facebook, your email & other online services (even in the bathroom on your mobile phone)?
- Is the only time you're offline when you're sleeping?
- Do you feel that you often cannot concentrate?
- Do you get anxious if you are offline for more than a few hours?
- Do you find yourself easily distracted by online resources that allow you to avoid other, pending work?
Now add up your score!
How many times did you answer "yes"?
Twice?... Half a dozen?!...
The next step is to plug your number into the chart below.
This will help you determine how content fried you are.
I'm fried! Now what?
Did you score an 8... a 9... a 10?!
You, my friend, are definitely content fried! So what's the next step?
Self-knowledge, says Beth:
The first thing you need to do is have some good self knowledge of when you're feeling content fried.
Then use these simple practices to help you stay focused & manage your attention:
- Ask yourself about your goals & priorities -- and ask yourself at regular intervals whether your current activity serves your highest priority.
- Notice when your attention has wandered -- then gently bring it back to focus on your highest priority.
- Sometimes in order to learn or deepen relationships, exploring from link to link is permissible -- and important. Don't make attention training so rigid that it destroys flow.
Maybe you need some daily rituals like cleaning all the dishes in your sink, meditating or taking a walk.
Or perhaps a digital detox is necessary -- requiring you to spend time with family members or read a book.
You might even need a complete intervention -- meaning you stay off the internet all together for a day or 2.
How to get focused again
Once you've become mindful of your problem, recognized it, and evaluated why & how it's happening, the next step is to implement fixes to your daily ritual.
Here are some helpful tips you can start implementing today (see below for a transcription of each fix):
Managing your Space
- Do 1 thing!... if reading, only have the book in front of you
- Spend 10 minutes each day de-cluttering
- Clear away all distractions: use an intray for incoming paper
How to Work
- Work in focused bursts: use a timer -- 50 min work, 20 min break
- Get away from the computer: to area with no Internet
- Use only a notepad & pen
- Morning quiet: meditate, read, write morning pages
- Morning: shower, have a healthy breakfast, go for a walk
- Bedtime: read book, wash face, clean all dishes/empty your sink
- Morning/Bedtime: stretch, refocus, look at things-to-do list
- Disconnection times: 8-10am
- Check email at set points during the day: 2-3 times per day
- Turn off email alerts
Take Time to Reflect & Review
- First thing in the morning: what are the 3 most important things to do today? don't check your email until you get the task complete
- At the end of the day: what did I do? what will I focus on tomorrow? what can be improved?
Help for Addicts
- Writing programs: WriteRoom, Ommwriter, Typewriter
- Blocker programs: SelfControl locks you out of specific sites, Freedom locks you out of the Internet
Taking a Digital Technology Detox
- Say yes to... creating, spending time with family & friends, reading a book
- Say no to... TV, Facebook, mobile, email
Try using just 1 of these methods for a week or 2 -- until it becomes second nature.
As Beth says:
You're actually retraining your brain to pay attention & to be on task. But first you have to know that you're distracted.
Prevention: Manage Your Attention
Now that you know how to recognize when you're content fried & how to get focused again -- here are 6 easy tips from Beth on how to not get content fried in the first place (plus a comment from Beth on each tip).
The key: manage your attention, not just your time!
1. Visualize on paper
Over the past 10 months, I've made a return to paper & markers & using mind maps or visualization techniques to reflect, plan my week & day.
2. Establish rituals
If I'm sitting too long it really affects my brain & I cannot think, so I need to get up, it's like a reboot.
I'm taking 10 minutes every morning to practice some visual recording skills, like drawing, to create my 3 Most Important Things for Today List. At the end of the day, I look at it, reflect on what I did -- and plan for tomorrow.
4. Manage electronic distractions
I've turned off notifications that pop up on my computer screen or send me a text message to my mobile phone.
5. Manage physical space
When I see clutter in my physical work spaces, I try to take that as a sign that I need to hit a pause button. Usually it is because I am doing too much.
6. Just say no
You don't want to be so rigid with your attention that you let go of serendipity. Sometimes you need that serendipity for relationships & for learning, but there is a balance.
Bonus: Must Reads for the Content Fried!
If you're interested in learning more about this important topic, we've got a treat for you.
Beth said to pick up one of these books (and read it with your phone turned off!!!):
- The Information Diet: A Case for Conscious Consumption by Clay A. Johnson
- 18 Minutes: Find Your Focus, Master Distraction, and Get the Right Things Done by Peter Bregman
- Net Smart: How to Thrive Online by Howard Rheingold
What will you do this week to manage your attention & avoid online distractions?
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