Tame "Information Overload" to Boost 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
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
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
· 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
· 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?
Glory Borgeson is a business coach, speaker, and author of "Catapult Your
Business to New Heights: Sure-Fire Strategies to Increase Profit." She works
with entrepreneurs who want to take their business to higher profit levels,
and executives in the first two years of a new position. Her clients benefit
from her dual focus: helping them improve their business results and develop
themselves at the same time. You can reach her at http://www.BorgesonConsulting.com