The reality is – you’re stuck.
Yes, you are committed to achieving your goals. Your desire to succeed is powerful. Your mind is open.
You are learning all the time.
You’re reading, attending conferences, enrolling into courses.
Yet – you’re stuck.
Your progress is slow. Your results – unimpressive.
You can’t help wondering if you’re doing anything wrong or there is something wrong with you.
Or worse – you’re worry you’re not smart enough.
Maybe you need to try more. Or harder. Or both.
Or maybe not.
A brain failure or an info-hoarding plague?
About a year ago, I realised my brain stopped processing information as fast as it used it.
I was loosing track of the multiple projects, courses, books I was handling at the time.
I was bringing wrong files to wrong appointments.
Reading wrong agendas for wrong meetings, if I managed to read it at all.
My memory got really poor – I forgot to do my homework a couple of time.
I was forgetting details from my own reports.
It was embarrassing.
Worse – it was frustrating and scary.
My brain – the most important tool in my toolbox – was not an infallible as I’d always though.
And then, I started being passed over for new opportunities.
At that time, I was working hard, hoping to move up the ladder. After a couple of conversations with influential people, I realised they were noticing my struggle to keep up with the pace. I was becoming unreliable. They saw me as unfocused, spread too thinly and worse of all – not serious enough.
I was jeopardising my chances of success.
Maybe it’s happened to you, too?
Maybe you feel like you’re keeping too many irons in the fire.
Reading more than you can digest?
Learning more than you can put into practice?
Have you ever thought that thirst for knowledge may be just an info-hoarding habit, and all those books, articles and certificates, instead of helping you progress, are drowning your chances of success?
It’s a troubling thought, isn’t it?
You can’t know for sure, but here are a few signs. I know some of them quite well because I’ve been there and suffered, too.
Because I’ve been stuck, too.
Info-hoarding habit can bring your journey to success to a grinding halt.
The good news is – it’s curable.
So raise your head from over your to-be-read pile. Look at the signs I’ve listed below and answer this questions honestly: Does it look like you?
1. Your research is taking much longer than you ever thought it would
I’m talking about chasing that perfect image for your slides, or an article supporting exactly the point you’re raising. Or even trawling through thesauruses to find that one, perfect word to express what you mean.
Before you know, hours have passed and your inner perfectionist is still not happy with what you’ve got.
While I am in favour of making your point clear and powerful – more often than not – less is better.
2. Your ‘to-be-read’ pile keeps growing
Yes, I love reading, too. And even more, I love books. Books make you feel like you’re investing in yourself and your success, don’t they?
Books, trade publications, opinion magazines – shelves and online stores are full of stuff to serve every need and suit every taste.
So you buy more and more and add to your ‘to-be-read’ (TBR) pile. You honestly promise yourself, you’ll read it all when you have time.
And you try.
But you only have so much time.
Building your personal TBR tower only adds to your guilt and clutters your house, or bedside table.
But reading through it all won’t help you much.
Because by the time you get to the bottom of your pile, many of the books or articles there will be ‘old news’.
Your ‘knowledge’ will be out-dated.
(If you wondered, you can calculate how long it will take you to read all the books in your TBR pile here)
The amount of knowledge and data that is pumped out every minute is overwhelming.
The key question is: do you really need it?
I bet you don’t.
Even to speak at a TEDx event you don’t have to be ‘the expert’ on the topic – you just need to be an expert. Check your facts, use reliable resources and consult with other experts.
Every time you’re tempted to add another book/article/course/conference to your ‘to-do’ list or pile, ask yourself: Does it really add value to your work, your personal development, the quality of life?
More often then not – it doesn’t. True breakthrough discoveries are as rare as a blue diamond. Most information out there is known, regurgitated, repackaged and republished.
There is nothing new under the moon, as ancient Romans said. By the way, they weren’t the first ones to use this expression.
3. You’ve downloaded/bought the same content more than once
We’ve all been there. You see a document, a book, a course, a report, and it’s free or ‘only $0.99’, or even when you have to pay for it, you think: I have to have it.
You download it, or buy it, only to discover, you’ve already got this thing in your collection.
I wasted about $50 buying the same books twice. Still haven’t read them…
4. Your working memory is on its last legs
How many brilliant ideas that popped into your have you forgot before you had a chance to write them down?
Do you loose your train of thought when speaking at meetings?
Do trainings and conferences feel like ‘in one ear and out the other’?
These are signs of working memory malfunction. If you’ve noticed any of them, chances are, it’s because your mind is cluttered.
You’re holding too much stuff in your head at the same time. You’re ‘multitasking’, trying to absorb large amount of information in a short time, or handling more than one stream of data coming your way (like chatting on the phone and checking your emails).
It’s more than your memory can take.
Do you know what happens when your computer’s working memory (RAM) is all used up?
Yep, it gets painfully slow.
The same happens with your brain when your short-term (working) memory is chockablock.
5. By the time you finish your scheduled email/message check-in, you’re due for another one
You are serious about your success, so you are serious about productivity. You’re aware how much time can be wasted checking your emails, news sites; social media etc., so you’ve scheduled your checking sessions and you’re sticking to your plan.
Only trouble is… you have so much to check, by the time you’ve done your morning round, you’re mid-day one is due.
And even if you do it only once or twice a day, it takes up a lot of time and you’re constantly feeling like you’re missing out.
What would you miss out on if you cut down on your email, news sites or social media intake?
My guess is: a fair deal of stress and misery, and maybe your high school friend’s birthday pics.
If you don’t believe me, try going on an info diet for a few days. See for yourself.
If anything important happens in the world, someone will tell you about it for sure.
6. Your plans rarely eventuate
And now, for the most severe and disastrous of them all.
People who spend time collecting information, gathering data and ‘acquiring knowledge’, call it what you like, don’t have time to execute their ideas.
Planning, no matter how thorough, and polishing your plans, will never take you to your goals.
It’s actions that get your there.
But if you always have some more research to do, facts to check, people to ask for opinion, you will never have time and energy for action.
You’re daydreaming, or overthinking, overcomplicating, or being a perfectionist. None of these traits is a deadly sin. And sometimes, these are useful features. But, bro, done is better than perfect.
Get rid of your info-hoarding habit
I know it may sound counterintuitive. In the world of more is better, it’s hard to shake off the fear of loosing out. Particularly if you’re working towards professional success.
Everyone seems to be obsessed with knowing more. Experts are in fashion. ‘Become the go-to person for knowledge about your industry, your niche’ – is common career advice.
But the reality is, you’re already drowning in the info sea. You’ve lost direction. You’re spreading yourself too thin.
You are unfocused.
You know it’s not the way forward.
Not if you want to achieve your goals.
Be ruthless or drown
It’s hard, I know. You may even experience withdrawals – that’s unpleasant!
but if you don’t do it, you’ll drown completely. You’re loose your sense of direction.
And you know, what will happen?
You will never achieve your goals.
So if you’re serious about succeeding at whatever you want to in life, get serious.
Decide what really matters to you – here and now.
Go on an info diet.
Learn to say no.
Only add if it adds value to your life – right now.
Stop searching and adding. Start doing.
You will succeed.
Grab a PDF copy of the post with bonus tips on managing info-hoarding and get my tips, tricks and shortcuts to success delivered to your inbox.