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Cast Your Chains Aside!

Last month I staged an old time revival for about 300 CPAs. I told them they should cast aside the chains of information that were binding them! They should flee the four horseman of the productivity apocalypse – perfectionism, poorly run meetings, social media, and (the most terrifying) reply to all. I asked them to see the light – that they would nevah, I repeat nevah, be able to keep up with the torrent of information coming at them. They should admit their powerlessness and frustration and follow me to the promised land!

Are you ready, brothers and sistahs? Will you join us?

Here’s the deal – every minute there are 2.5 million updates to Facebook. There are 204 million e-mail messages sent. There are 72 hours of video uploaded to YouTube. And countless blog posts, articles, magazines, books, etc. etc. etc. There was as much information generated on ONE day in 2013 as there was from the birth of the world to 2003. And it’s gonna get worse. Just wait till the Internet of things kicks in and your refrigerator is texting you that the milk is spoiled. And when the rest of the world gets internet access (only about 40% use the Internet now), think how many more cat videos we’ll all get to watch. And the selfies! We all need more selfies!

Here’s the problem – this is costing time and money. According to Newstex, in 2013, content searches cost companies over $14,000 and 500 hours per worker. There’s so much junk out there, it takes forever to find the good stuff. When you finally find the good stuff, you have to have the discipline to stop looking for more good stuff. Then you have to process.

Not scary enough? How about this – any task that takes over 30 minutes of coherent thought is often put off till the weekend. There is no time to really contemplate decisions – people are just making them. Job satisfaction is plummeting. And the impact on mental health? People can’t concentrate because they’re overloading short term memory; they are hostile (see the first article) and irritable and compulsively checking e-mail, Facebook, etc.

In my revival, I take my flock through three key steps: 1. changing the way one thinks about information and its processing (lots of tips on perfectionism here), 2. triaging information, and 3. tips for faster processing.

Here’s one example from the thinking section: a lesser demon is FOMO – fear of missing out. It’s taken me a while to slay FOMO – I subscribed to several LinkedIn groups because of FOMO. I thought someone might post something great! I wanted to stay on top of the industry! But when I considered it, I realized few people post anything great and some post a lot of crap. Mostly vendors. Get some holy water!

Here’s one from the triaging section: do an info audit (or if you prefer, exorcism). We work through this in detail, but the basics are: pick an area you must stay current in (we discuss “must”) and list all the ways you’re getting information. I provide ways to assess each one. Dump those not working. For example, I stay up on the speaking business. I read my association’s magazine, listen to podcasts, subscribe to several LinkedIn and Facebook groups, and attend the annual convention. The best source of information? I was really surprised to find it was the convention. I dumped the social media groups. But FOMO is still trying to possess me.

More tips in the session! Let’s pitch a tent for your group and set them free!

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