Albert Einstein once said that “information is not knowledge.”
I’m sure you’ll agree old Albert was an all-round clever guy.
Because while continuous learning is great, consuming bucket-loads of information without proper application doesn’t make you Einstein – nor does it make you a better freelance blogger.
As a freelancer, you need to access only the right information in the right way to remain productive (and sane). As a blogger, it’s imperative that you keep up with a whole host of ever-evolving information about the online world – some of which can change daily.
But if you’re both? A freelancer and a blogger? Well, you’re likely to be in the “extremely high risk zone” when it comes to information overload. Up the proverbial creek without so much as a paddle, as it were.
Worry not – there are strategies you can put in place to avoid drowning spectacularly in a vast sea of information. Just grab on to the following life rafts to stay afloat and ward off that out-of-your-depth feeling.
Clean up your RSS and email subscriptions
Some of the blogs and email newsletters you subscribe to are probably useful, inspirational pockets of freelance blogging wonderment.
Others are likely to be utterly useless. The trick is to have a quick spring clean to weed out all the feeds and email subscriptions that have become irrelevant and time-consuming.
(Hint: E-mails from Sophie about learning to make real money blogging for hire = good information. That newsletter on the fifty best crochet patterns for that scarf you didn’t start crocheting five years ago = bad information.)
Use your time and resources effectively
I’m a big, nerdy bookworm who was born in a decade when mobile technology meant carrying your typewriter round to a neighbour’s house to show it off. Naturally then, I resisted e-readers for the longest time. I’ve always loved the feel (and, um, smell) of a ‘proper’ book.
Then somebody bought me a Kindle as a gift and I discovered that not only can they store e-books, but PDFs too. Now anything I need to read – including proofreading my own work – I save as a PDF and read when I’d otherwise be wasting time.
Like when I’m on the train… or standing in line for more typewriter ribbons.
Go on an information diet
I’ve recently fallen back in love with Tim Ferriss after a few years’ hiatus. More specifically his book, The 4-Hour Work Week. Tim advocates embarking on an “information diet” in which you restrict all media news coverage for at least a week with the aim to become more productive.
Avoiding TV news and good old-fashioned inky newspapers for one week had such a dramatic effect on my own freelance writing career that I decided to carry it on indefinitely (albeit a tad less stringently). The way I see it, I can’t control most of the stuff I consume from these sources so I may as well focus on what I can control, right?
Try it yourself – even for just a week. Then use all that extra time for good or evil as you see fit.
Outsource monotonous research tasks
As a freelance blogger, your clients hire you because they want your word-smithery, so you’re going to have to do all the actual writing yourself. (If that comes as a shock to you, we’ve got more serious issues than the scope of this post can handle.) The question is, could you outsource other stages of the blog creation process?
How many times have you been researching a post only to inadvertently meander off-topic into an information-consuming frenzy?
Kind of sucks time out of your day, doesn’t it? Paying somebody to complete your menial blogging tasks could actually save you money too, because it means you’ll have more time to take on and complete more work.
Have a good plan in place
You’ve got a plan, right? A to-do list, at least?
To-do lists are great to have, but what do yours look like? Are they so lengthy they’re time-consuming even to read, let alone complete? Are they too general and broad in their demands?
I drone on about this all the time on my blog, but only because I created evil to-do lists for almost a whole year before I realised it was exactly these snakes in the grass that made me feel so overwhelmed and struggle to get any work done.
A good to-do list should be specific and brief. If it’s not, you’ll feel overwhelmed and disheartened and actually get less done than if you had no list at all. Nowadays I’m pretty ruthless with my daily tasks and have been known to advocate eliminating all tasks that don’t either make money or contribute to bigger, more fantastical goals.
So: you can avoid information overload by limiting your access to all the time-sucking, irrelevant crap out there. Using a few simple strategies and a bit of forward-thinking, you’ll soon find your freelance blogging career feels much more manageable.
As a result you’ll feel saner, your clients (and those closest to you) will be happier – and I’m sure Einstein could have only approved, too.
Win a freelance writer training course
If you enjoyed these tips and you’d like to learn more, here’s your chance to win a place on Kirsty’s new training program How to Earn a Full-Time Living as a Freelance Writer Online. We’ll choose the winner at midnight (Pacific time) on 26th December 2013.
To enter the contest, all you have to do is tweet this message [click here to tweet it now]:
“The 100% *guaranteed* way to earn good money freelance writing: http://ctt.ec/ol8fa+ via @sophielizard and @kirstythewriter #bafb”
And that’s it! As soon as you tweet that, you’ve entered the contest. Good luck!
[The contest is now closed.]