When Is Enough, Enough?


Most online entrepreneurs just like you either suffer from too little or way too much information: There simply is no in-between.

Where do you stand? How do you figure out which amount of information is “just right?”

Today, we’ll continue the conversation on information overload that we started in an earlier blog post. And, boy, is there a lot of material to cover …

Let’s begin with one of the biggest issues.

I’m often asked by nervous entrepreneurs:

When is “enough” information really enough?

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard this question from clients – “newbie” business owners and veteran business leaders alike.

So many smart people are convincing themselves that they are just not smart enough. Stop doing this to yourself and your business.

As we mentioned in an Aug. 15 posting on this blog about information overload, you can’t possibly know everything, so don’t even try. You just need to recognize what you don’t know and fill in the gaps along the way.

One of our blog readers, Dan Scott, put this urgency in perspective: “Often we keep acquiring more information so we can put off pulling the trigger … at some point, you’ve got sufficient information and should just act.”

Excellent point, Dan.

Think about it:

It’s great to have an impressive vocabulary, but you don’t need to memorize an entire dictionary in order to enjoy a good book. If you don’t understand a new word, simply look it up. It’s that easy to do.

You just have to trust yourself – and your brain. After all, even Albert Einstein couldn’t remember his own telephone number. He reasoned, quite accurately, that he didn’t need to memorize his phone number because he knew where to find it in the phone book.

Einstein didn’t question his knowledge of the unknown, even for little things like remembering a phone number. You shouldn’t either.

Sometimes knowing how to access information is more important than the information itself. Remember that – I’m sure it will become more and more important to you as your business grows.

There’s another puzzling question I hear a lot, and this one is funny when you say it out loud:

How do I know that I’ll know what I need to know when I need to know it?

Questions like these reveal a disturbing unease about strategic business process – and a lack of confidence among business owners. The questions don’t lead to business solutions; they just heighten our anxieties and pick at the scab of uncertainty that irritates us all.

“What if I can’t keep up with my competitors?” …

“What if I don’t buy every business book, read every e-mail, and scan every RSS feed?” …

“What if I miss the one bit of information that could truly set my business on fire?”

“What if …”

This kind of paranoia freezes growth opportunity.

It discourages risk-taking and leads to indecision, inefficiency, and ultimately, paralysis.

This is no way to run a successful business.

Information anxiety plagues many good business people. But the great ones are able to sort through the clutter of information and inaction and get to the part that really matters – the information that leads you to take action.

Again, knowing how to access and interpret information is sometimes more important than the information itself.

Think about this example. What turns the lights on in your house? Simple answer: A light switch.

You don’t need to know about volts, ohms and amperes in order to turn on the lights. You just need the lights to work so you can see what is in front of you.

The ability to see what is in front of you: This is what so many of us seem to have lost.

Instead, we block our own view, and distort our business vision, with needless stacks of irrelevant information. The “stacks” don’t have to be physical. Even a virtual impediment is a blockade to creativity and productive thought.

Oh yeah, one more thing …

Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. You’ll still make them, no matter how much information you have in your memory and at your fingertips.

Let me share a secret with you.

If you’ve done anything at all – not just business – then you have valuable experiences locked inside you that are just waiting to be rediscovered

You know what has worked and what hasn’t in certain situations. This will ALWAYS provide the best information you need to succeed. It is personal to you and it is timely: Two strong reasons why it’s more valuable to you than most information you’ll come across.

Most likely, no other business guru has ever shared this secret with you ­– because, if they did, it would be bad for business.

But I’m willing to do this for you because I believe you really must understand this. I’ve had some of the best mentors in the world – Jay Abraham, Michael Masterson, etc. – but even with that star-quality guidance, I needed something more.

The most important, impactful and relevant information I ever received that has helped me be successful has come directly from my own experiences – good and bad.

You are the best source of information for your business.

You know what works best and what doesn’t. You’ve thrown yourself into the fire and perhaps you’ve been burned by a few failed business decisions.

So what? That’s nothing to be ashamed of. On the contrary, it may be just what you need to assure success in the future.

Your experiences, your passions, your successes and failures, all come into play as you move forward in any business venture. Each bit of experience you have gained along the way becomes a pebble on the path toward future growth.

Don’t turn that pebble into a boulder by blocking your ability to move forward with confidence.

Often, clients tell me that watching me make a mistake, rebound and leverage it for future growth has inspired them to really change their way of thinking. They are no longer timid with fear of failure. Instead, they are ready to pounce on opportunity, even if it is born of error.

While you may be tempted to ingest all sorts of information from outside sources, and many of these sources may prove remarkably helpful, the ultimate business decisions are made by you.

It is essential that you take control of that decision-making function.

And no matter what, do not discount what you know already or make your own knowledge any less important than anyone else’s. It is your wisdom that has value because you are living with it.

Last year, in a Sept. 8 blog posting, I offered tips on how to attack information overload and the resulting anxiety it causes.

In it, I asked my readers to overcome “the single biggest obstacle to achieving lasting success online and offline.” That obstacle, for many, is their own personal craving for more and more information.

You may be an information junkie, but don’t let information anxiety turn your business into junk.

What’s causing you to delay action in favor of more research? What impulses are preventing you from “pulling the trigger” on action-oriented solutions?

Your responses on information overload have been illuminating, and I’m learning from all that I receive and read.

Share your secrets to “getting going” on new tasks. Do you have a certain ritual you follow? A certain method you use to kick-start your productivity? How do you know when enough is enough?

Let me know how you do it … There are a lot of people hungry for your ideas.

To Higher Profits,

Rich Schefren

24 thoughts on “When Is Enough, Enough?”

  1. Hey Rich! Wow, you’ve really been giving us a lot of great information lately, Thanks!

    Kristen

    p.s. I love the graphic on this blog post!!!

    Reply
  2. Great series Rich..

    i got through the week actually focused on two main things and wow..
    Got less items done, but the most important ones are well underway.

    i can feel the difference already.

    keep em coming

    Reply
  3. Sometimes you just need to start, right now, despite everything.

    For example I started writing last night. I know the topic well, but am not even sure what format my final info product will take. Will be be an ebook, another published “bookstore book,” or perhaps eventually morph into a CD series — or maybe a series of blog posts first before anything else happens.

    I’ve been studying this topic on and offline for weeks, have read 3 published books on the topic as well as numerous online sources, and of course I’ll never be 100% ready. Can’t wait for 100% — time to start getting things done. I can always go back and revise/tweak/modify and of course I will.

    Reply
  4. So much information available is both the curse and the blessing. You’ve aptly described the curse, yet we get buried in the overload and forget the blessing. When you discover a hole in your knowledge, something you all of a sudden need to know- you can now find it without leaving your desk chair!! If it’s so important you need it now- set the time aside to get it, digest it, and then implement it.

    Once I realized this, I stopped wasting my time storing nuts in my info hoard (reading forums, etc. that I might some day need to know and when I do can’t find anyways) and instead focusing on moving my business forward. My progress accelerated immediately when I did so.

    Reply
  5. I don’t have things all figured out – I know what I should do and don’t do it often. This is the problem many people have with anything involving discipline I have found. I just wanted to share some ideas and thoughts in the case it might help people.

    1. Simpleology by one of my mentors Mark Joyner has helped me in this area by using the Backward Planner and by putting things in a vault – you have ideas and things you would like to do but are they moving you forward towards your long term objective – is this something that should be added to long term planner or should it be binned – by listing and thinking about things more carefully then this can help you gain focus.

    2. Tim Ferris in his excellent book 4 Hour Workweek likens it to an addiction – the chapter title is good – The Low Information Diet – Cultivating Selective Igorance. One example he gives is that he doesn’t read the paper – if there is anything important you will hear about it as people will tell you. Alternatively makes for small talk – “What’s going on in the world?” and other people can distill what might have taken them 30-60 minutes to read in 5 minutes. He also gives an example about voting for somebody – where he asks the opinions of friends he respects in US and in other countries (for a broader perspective), listens to the presidential debates and makes up his mind.

    This chapter is well worth reading a few times.

    “Increased output necessitates decreased input”
    Develop habit of asking “Will I definitely use this information for something immediate and important?”
    “Practice the art of nonfinishing” – Winners never quit is bunk – Seth Godin talks more about this in the quick read “The Dip” – I listened to the abridged audio recently.

    3. I am a big believer in the 80/20 or pareto principle and that most of the time you can get 80%+ of the results from 20% of the material. Rich and Jay are big fans of speed reading and photoreading and this allows you to take in the most relevant information. I also use Rich’s trick of speeding up audios.

    4. Many people don’t take advantage of other people’s wisdom. If you are running a business then you can learn a lot by speaking to people who run successful businesses in the same line of work. There is some very interesting research that I have details of related to this – I will try and find a link.

    5. I have written in big on my notice board – “You don’t have to get it right you just have to get it going” from Mike Litman. There is a certain type of personality that wants to know everything before embarking on something but really it’s a trap and a way to avoid taking action – scared that may fail and perhaps sometimes scared that may succeed.

    I sometimes feel bad about posting like this on forums – like “Who does this upstart think he is giving advice” – with so many comments not sure if people take the time to read comments from others anyway but I love to read and drive a lot and listen to audios and sometimes being a distiller of information I feel is valuable after all Napoleon Hill wasn’t fabulously wealthy but distilled the information from other great people.

    Hope it may help somebody break free from their crack like addiction to information 🙂

    Warmly

    Paul C (The Marketing Maverick)

    Reply
  6. Rich, this is why I continue to stay on your list, read your blogs, and sit up straight when I see your name in my email inbox.

    I guarantee when you sit down to write a blog post, you do NOT go:

    1. What will make me a sale today?

    2. What will help the search engines spider my pages?

    3. Etc.

    Maybe you do, but that’s NOT the focal point of your posts. The focal point of your posts is, without a doubt:

    What will help my readers most to be more successful?

    It’s what John Reese says in “The Rebirth”… how can I make people’s lives better, today? I can’t say enough about a man… an entrepreneur… who sells information products… that says, “you already have the information you need… just trust yourself… then, figure out and find what IS missing along the way…”

    And, that’s why everything you do continues to sell out.

    I guess, what I’m saying is I’m now a lifetime member of the Rich Schefren “fan club”… 😉

    Not idol worship… simply large amounts of respect for who you are as an entrepreneur… and, as a person.

    Thanks for you hard work, Rich!!

    John Morris

    Reply
  7. I hate being a newbie! I am probably guilty of all the ‘labelling’ above. Between all the Gurus I am trying to learn from, I would get 50 various emails when I open up every morning. It is an addiction! …an addiction not to fail particularily if you have been better than average in the ‘real world’ and so desperately ‘need to succeed’ on line.

    By the time I finish reading, listening and viewing it’s 3PM. Wow what a day! No work done, no money made but gee…I learned a lot. I also learned you can’t contact 90% of them either!..only through the order page! I gotta hand it you though Rich, you have a soul! ….Thanks for some sanity!

    Reply
  8. Boy did I need to see these postings today! I’ve been struggling with this very issue for quite a while now. Just recently started opting out of many of the lists that were sending too many emails and too much info. It was paralyzing. Great advice from Paul Cowan here too.

    Thanks for sharing and helping me (and others) realize it’s okay to not read or pay attention to EVERYTHING that comes at you.

    Lori @ Zen Rabbit

    Reply
  9. Thanks so much for your advice Rich. You have wisdom for the wise.

    For me, I finally learned that you are absolutely correct. We each have the knowledge to take the first steps and it is more than easy to discover what specifics you need to add along the way.

    Also, my mistakes have taught me more than anything I could have read, or heard, or even been shown by someone else. Failure is not final, but an opportunity in disguise.

    Just get out their and “do it.” Stop burning your bridges before you even get to them. And the old Chinese proverb: A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

    Reply
  10. I must admit…I too have the problem of listening to, reading, and ingesting too much information and the resultant lack of action that results. It made me think back to my days as a naval aviator.

    When you begin flight instruction in the Navy, mounds of information are thrown at you. The Navy front loads most of its instruction and operates on the premise that if you sip from the information fire hose inevitably some will go down your throat.

    When it comes time to solo (after approximately ten lessons) you’re let loose. The instructors deem your safe enough to not kill yourself and/or damage the airplane.You don’t have any real practical experience, besides the previous lessons, and when you’re flying an airplane book knowledge is nice but it won’t land for you. That first solo flight is a huge confidence builder. If you encounter a problem YOU have to act…there’s no instructor to do it for you. This is where the real learning begins.

    I think the same is true about business. Action is the best cure for indecisiveness. It will force you to make decisions and before you know it you’ve completed that once daunting task and you’re on to something else. The difference is in the Navy the entire system is expecting you to solo at a certain time. In your business you might not have a built in social pressure/expectation so you have to push yourself a bit more.

    There is no magic bullet. You try and succeed or you try, fail, reevaluate and try again. The important thing is that you try. Either way you’ve gained valuable experience.

    Reply
  11. Another great post, Rich. We really need to weed out all extraneous info so we can stay open to a genuine life-changing opportunity no matter where it may appear.

    For example today I went to a seminar expecting to be shown how to get the most out of a particular database I’ve just started using. Instead I came away with a whole new business idea that draws upon my 19 years of experience in the financial end of real estate development, utilizes all the marketing concepts I’ve been learning, uses my technology skills, and hopefully will generate the bank account of my dreams in short order. Finally I’ve found something that I can get excited about and that will let me move forward with my life.

    If I’d been too overloaded with information, I might have missed this opportunity totally. By the same token having the right information is critical. If I wasn’t in this program, I might not have been in a frame of mind to accept this opportunity but with what I’ve learned so far from you about growing a business that feeds your passion, I knew I’d hit the jackpot. Can’t thank you enough Rich.

    Pam

    P.S. The hyperlink above remains valid but I’ll change it as soon as I have my new sites up.

    Reply
  12. I agree, Rich, so many people have forgotten how to trust their own instincts. For me, I’m gradually reclaiming some of what I inately trusted at one time – my ability to know and determine the best course of action for myself. Scan the horizon – briefly assess the options – then move forward. We can always re-adjust, if needs be. Downplay ‘making mistakes’ and ‘failure’. See them instead as ‘feedback’ – on a much longer journey called ‘life’.

    Reply
  13. Hi Rich,

    thanks for these last 2 posts.

    I think a reason why people dont pull the trigger is that
    the majority of us are conditioned to be spectators.

    We spend our hard earned money/leisure time
    watching a sporting event or going to a concert being
    ‘entertained’ and essentially being a passive observer
    rather than getting into the game.

    This is what the informtaion junkies amongst are doing
    this time we are watching people make money online
    rather than watching the super bowl.

    Gavin Allinson
    http://www.outsourcesuccess.com

    Reply
  14. Rich, when you wrote The Final Chapter and all it’s preludes, you taught about developing strategies for everything. We then evaluate everything according to that plan. Does what I’m doing take me closer or further away to my goal?

    I follow that advice. I have been working toward evaluating and prioritizing everything.

    Email is my worst. First I scan the email subject lines. If the subject line looks like it fits in with my plan, then I check it out by scanning the body of the email. If it doesn’t look like anything I can immediately benefit from – that fits the plan, I trash it. If it looks beneficial but not immediate, I store it for future reading. It must have extremely high value to me before I will read it let alone act upon it.

    With books and eBooks: I will only read what I feel gets me closer to the goal I’m working to achieve. I read everyday and I listen to a motivational or informational mp3 while I walk my dog.

    Thanks for all the great value Rich.

    Will Sinclair
    http://www.thequickandeasyguide.com

    Reply
  15. Hi Rich,
    good post. I suffered from info overload, spent money i needn’t have. Downloaded loads of info that I still haven’t read.

    You get to the phase when all the info turns into a blurry blob.

    So if your eyes are fixed and glazed over and you are staring into a computer screen that is no longer in your vision then you are definitely suffering from an overdose of information.

    The remedy that appears to solve this …….

    Is a pint at the local with your friends 🙂

    Thank you Rich for your down to earth approach and advice.

    Success Always,
    Paul

    Reply
  16. Hi Rich

    As always you have something profound to say. Your email is one I definitely look forward to opening! You should see the thousands I have unopened!

    Thanks to all the information I have downloaded from your site, I am completely focussed to the end of September – and I have put a little green sticker right beside me, as I work – where I wrote the following words on …

    What Do I Want
    STOP – THINK – then a list of three things I passionately want to have.
    (This stops me wasting time and keeps me on track – oh, I also use the timer!!)

    I’ve got that sticker in the kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, car and handbag!

    So my distraction level has dropped like a bomb and my focus is lazer sharp.

    You truly are one very nice guy for all the support you have given us; who are still on the road to our goals and dreams.

    Big thank you
    AnneMarie

    Reply
  17. Hi Rich,
    thanks for your post. It’s really that important to take action. Every day I make the same experience. If I don’t work my plan i get lost in the Information Overload internet world. I could spend hours over hours, years over years in front of my computer without starting to action. I can highly recommend Mark Joiners Simpleology.
    Focus on your skills and relate everything you do to the “real world”. If you want to start a business there what would you do? You have to throw your skills into your Idea basket, pick one of the ideas, search for the market, create your own product or find where to get it, buld up a store and market. Build relationsships and so on.
    But would you open a dinert, a shop for wedding dresses and a music store at the same timein the real world. You cant manage. But thats what you have to do if you follow the internet marketers world and read all these emails and sales pitches. “Do this – follow me-here is your blueprint.” At least your harddrive is overloaded with all the information you cant find anymore. There really is no secret and no hidden bullet that leads you automaticly to success. Just do it!

    Reply
  18. Thanks for your continuing information. I really find it helps me to stay focused.

    I was having trouble keeping on track and decided to buy a whiteboard, instead of using bits of paper which get lost. I got the cheapest one I could find, and I used it to write down all the steps that needed to be completed to get my project finished. That really enabled me to get my ebook, along with all the sales page setup and so on, finalised.

    I also found your idea of keeping a timesheet helpful – and without your regular news I would probably drop back into my old ways, so I just want to say thanks again.

    Reply
  19. Hi Rich,

    Excellent articles and great advice/reminders! I can so relate! When my husband Pat and I were building our WTPowers business seven years ago, we were constantly studying the competition. Our project was delayed because we hired a programming team that didn’t deliver and really let s down. Meanwhile, other competitors were popping up and it started to really discourage us. One day my husband said “STOP!” don’t show me anything else. I don’t care what the others are doing! Let’s get our businesses launched. So we put our focus hats on and got the job done. Within 3 months we had 3,000 members and within 6 months we had 5,000. We did over $1.5 million that first year.

    You’re absolutely right! We just had to trust our own knowledge and not get crippled by what everyone else was saying or doing.

    As far as a tip to getting things done, we love Mark Joyner’s program Simpleology. The methods really work. Start with a Brain Dump every morning and decide to either Do it, Dump it or Delegate it. Choose no more that 5-7 things to do and do the hardest tasks first to free up your energy for the rest of the day. Worry caused by not doing soemthing takes up way more energy than just doing it! Oh, and use your delete key generously on all of that junk email that just contributes to more information overload!

    Thanks for all you do!
    Power Gal 🙂
    thepowerline.typepad.com
    wtpowers.com

    Reply
  20. Hello Richard,

    You’re right. I consider myself extremely focused. Yet, there are times when I deviate a little but I figure out very soon. Usually it doesn’t take me time to realize that I’m going off the bath. So, I go back to it. You probably don’t know; but my kolbe score was 7-3-7-4. So I’m 7 in in-depth research. How and when I realize I’m deviating from the current task , I don’t know how to answer this. It can be my instincts I guess. I just have some kind of internal alarm that wakes me up when this happens. I don’t know. But anyways, for the rest of your questions, here is what I do:
    – I setup a goal
    – I set a deadline to that goal.
    – I brainstorm ideas on how to achieve that goal.
    – I review my brainstormed ideas. I highlight the ones I decide are the ones I’m going to execute.
    – I mark the ones that need be researched further to make it more clear to me if I will include them in the execution list or not.
    – The “to be researched” ideas, I setup deadline to collect results of this research. By that deadline, all ideas are researched, and the ones that are found to be valuable are added to the execution list. If something is not completed by that deadline, I put it to “to be considered at later phases of the project due to time constraint”.

    Now I have an execution list of features. I highlight the ones that need be outsourced vrs the ones that I will be doing. Here is what I do after:

    – I work out a project plan: I break the ideas into tasks and subtasks and I associate resources (real names) and deadlines to each (sub)task
    – I write specifications to the features to be executed
    – I then take the ones that are assigned to names other than myself (outsourced tasks) and I schedule a meeting with the resource leader and I go through the specifications of that particular task or group of tasks.
    – they will come up with a detailed execution plan proposal (that’s broken down further into detailed tasks and subtasks each assigned a deadline). I review it with them and we sign up the agreement.
    – For the features, in my original project plan, that has my name assigned to it, I come up with a detailed execution plan where theses features are further broken down into subtasks and deadlines.
    – Then I just follow that plan which is full of actionable items.
    – I also follow up on the outsourced sub-plans.

    Result: 1st phase of goal is achieved

    – then I revisit the “to be considered in later phase of the project” list and I restart the above mentioned process as phase 2. I also add to it any new idea that come up through the pipe while in phase 1.

    Few tips on how to keep focused on deadlines and not distracted by info overload or over-research..etc:

    1. I keep agenda of daily to do list. I follow the agenda no matter what. It’s my bible if you want.
    2. I check emails between tasks. I just skim them. Only ones requires immediate attention I read. The rest, I have some kind of classified list of folders that I move these emails to: a folder for every group of emails.i.e business newsletters, BGS, clients, ..etc. I read those emails later when I have the time. The rest goes to spam folder.
    3. I don’t unsubscribe from any list I originally subscribed to. I found out that even though sometimes I receive irrelevant info. There are times that I receive valuable info. One example to these emails is the BGS course. If I unsubscribed to that thread, I would have missed a major and very important opportunity in my life.
    5. when I research, I don’t fully read every page comes up in my face. I skim them and only the ones that grap my attention I read fully.

    Just want to highlight the importance of deadline. Even if the deadline, during execution, was tight and you felt you need to extend it. It’s still much better than having no deadline at all.
    With deadline, you will achieve your goal by a certain date.
    Without deadline, tasks will be dragging and dragging and dragging and your goal will be achieved one day. It can be tomorrow, or it can be in another life:-)

    Hope this helped in any way.

    Sincerely,
    Amal

    Reply
  21. Hi Rich,

    For the past couple of blog posts on “information overload” you really clearly defined what most would have difficulty putting into words, but once read they can without a doubt relate. This is great.

    I would like to know more about the solution… what you found you needed to master over the past 10 years, why, and how. Rich what is your process.

    On the Attention call with Jay interviewing you, you mentioned you had a software designed to assist and enhance your process. I would be really interested to know more about this.

    I would like to know what reading techniques are affective for those who are ADD and dyslexic.

    I would like to know information gathering and organizing techniques you have developed and mastered. Does this include MindJet and if so how. Can you show use via Camtasia?

    I personally relate more to the prior blog where you mentioned…
    “We’re trying to prepare for the non-existent test that has EVERYTHING on it and it leads us down a rabbit hole of procrastination that kills productivity.” and “The net effect of the info-overload is that we diminish our ability to discern the great from the good and, in the process, make ourselves mediocre by measure.”

    I look forward to solutions for these issues… techniques, software, known exercises that work demoed using videos / camtasia, a live group conversation, and so on.

    There is a lot of stuff out there. What really works and how does it work for you?

    Thanks Rich for all your thought and care you put into this.

    Oskar

    Reply
  22. Not sure whether it was a good thing or not but I had more tiime than money when I started the info gathering.

    Realizing right off that there was much to learn and what seemed to be not much time to learn it, I dived in with zeal.

    Now after a year and under $1000 worth of info, I have come to the point where I now give out the help in forums vs. me asking all the questions.

    There will be a point after much overload where you will say “nope don’t need that” because you have learned an adequate amout about the subject.

    Beyond a general understanding or slight proficiency in all the areas of IM, you can go deeper into 1, maybe 2 different areas that you would master.

    It is important to know the basics in all areas of IM ….but there comes a time when you have to say thats enough on that subject.

    Things aren’t changing on the internet marketing field as fast as the “hype” leads you to believe.

    You still need a solid business plan, a focused direction and the ability to know when to hire in areas that are beyond your skills.

    To try to know everything about everything is insanity. I was talking to a “guru” the other day that has made millions on the internet and he didn’t have an adwords account yet! Said it was never in his plans so why waste time learning about something he had no use for at the time! Wise words from a true businessman. Don’t waste time on something you don’t need at the moment.

    Wish I had talked to him a year ago!

    Brian Ankner

    Reply

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