Tame “Information Overload”
in Order to Make More Profit

By Glory Borgeson

Tom owns his own small business. His type of company allows him ample “desk time” in his office. Tom is interested in news that affects his business directly, government policies that affect small businesses in general and he enjoys reading anything related to hot topics. Like most businesspeople, Tom gets his information via e-mail from various sources, particular Internet sites and certain TV news programs.

When he took a look at how much time it was costing him each day to sift through (and digest) all of the information that interests him, it came out to about an hour and a half a day. That’s seven and a half hours a week! Tom realized he had to make a change to the information overload that was taking time away from his business. Still, he found that certain pieces of information could be really helpful to his strategic business decisions. He needed to find a way to get the information he needed without sacrificing so much of his time.

Whether a topic that interests you directly affects your business, indirectly affects business in general, or is a current hot topic in government policy, the Internet, e-mail, and “ump-teen” television channels has made many of us into “TMI” people - “too much information”!

The problem? Reading/watching/listening to all of it (even if it’s interesting and/or directly affects your business) can take up so much valuable time. Wouldn’t you rather have that time to put toward high-yield activities that return the most money-per-hour?

Much of the time taken up by reading/watching the interesting news and information that comes your way could be spent on activities that increase your sales or decrease your expenses (thereby contributing to higher profit).  You might be thinking, “But buried in all of that news and information I go through, there is usually a “nugget” I’m able to use for my business’ benefit. I don’t want to miss that.”  If you’re thinking that, you make a good point.

How do you make a change?  What if there was a way to get the information you need (the “nugget”) without spending a considerable amount of time doing it yourself? And what if, with the extra time made available, you were able to change your activities to either directly or indirectly increase sales? What if it made your net profit increase by, say, 10 percent? If it cost you a small fraction of that profit to make a change, would it be worth it?

Finding the bit of information you really need can be outsourced to a variety of people. Consider the following list of outsourcing possibilities, according to the sophistication level of the information you receive and regularly read or watch:

  • A virtual assistant (VA) based in your country who has a certain type of background for which this task fits nicely

  • A foreign outsourcing company, such as Brickwork (b2kcorp.com), oDesk.com, or Elance.com (Elance for both foreign and U.S.-based)

  • College students (juniors or seniors) majoring in business, political science, English, or another related field

What should you give this person? (the “Admin”). Whether delegating to an employee or an outsourced individual, they will need:

  • A clear description of what you are looking for. (What is the “nugget”?)

  • If you subscribe to free e-zines or news outlets that arrive by e-mail, have the Admin subscribe, too.

  • If you have a paid subscription that arrives by e-mail, forward those e-mails to the Admin.

  • List other online information sources you want the Admin to check daily.

  • For print periodicals (newspapers, magazines, newsletters) that don’t have an online option, having a local Admin read through them is your best bet. If you don’t have an Admin employee, the college student option is great for this task.

  • Give the Admin clear examples from your information sources of what you are looking for and how you want it communicated back to you.

What do you want from the Admin? You want the Admin to deliver a summary version of the “nuggets” they find that are directly related to what you need to know. This means a “copy & paste” of text (either to a document or in the body of an e-mail), without links! Links will just put you back into TMI.

The first few times your Admin performs this task for you, the result may not be exactly what you want or need. Take some extra time up front to communicate again with your Admin about what you want and what you don’t want. He or she is certain to get it right in a short time.

How do you know you’ve succeeded? Once you and your Admin reach an understanding regarding what you want, you should be able to read the “nuggets” in 15 minutes a day (on average). That’s a little more than one hour a week of your time. If you’ve been spending between 30 and 90 minutes a day on information, you could save up to 7 hours a week, which is now freed up for more profitable activities.

TMI = More Stress

Freed-up Time = More Profit

More Profit = Less Stress

Which do you prefer?

What can you begin to do next week to get rid of too much information, and turn the timesavings into more profit?

Read other articles and learn more about Glory Borgeson.

[This article is available at no-cost, on a non-exclusive basis. Contact PR/PR at 407-299-6128 for details and requirements.]

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