When’s the last time you took an honest look at the information you keep?
I’m not talking about bank statements or tax records.
Rather ‘other’ information we acquire with our work.
Consider items such as old reference books, catalogues, newspapers and magazines, clippings, flyers and pamphlets, binders and notebooks from workshops and courses, previous project documents, potential project documents, etc. These all represent a variety of information.
Nothing wrong with having any of these things around, as long as they earn their keep.
Have a good objective look around your office or workspace. Do you feel focused and clear with the information you have?
Or does the sight of it leave you feeling behind, fuzzy and overwhelmed?
If it’s the latter, you’ve likely amassed too much information.
The remedy? Time to reclaim focus with an aggressive clear-out.
A few benefits:
- Liberation. Too much stuff, especially anything that’s outdated or no longer relevant, weighs us down. Even if it’s not in our immediate view, we’re aware of its presence. Decide to take charge and clear out the deadweight. The act alone is empowering and the mental space you’ll clear is liberating.
- Reflection. We become so engrossed in our daily work that we lose awareness of what we accumulate. A regular purge is a great opportunity to pause for reflection. Step back and review if the information you store corresponds to your current endeavours. Or are you hanging on to materials from a previous life that no longer apply?
- Release of Obligation. We just don’t have time to do it all. Yet refusing to let go of old intentions places unreasonable demands on ourselves. We create obligations we’ll never fulfil yet we insist we’ll get around to them. Stop beating yourself up. Wipe the slate clean and start fresh. You’ll have more energy to tackle what’s immediately in front of you once you stop dragging those anchors around.
‘How do I know what to let go?’
As you sort your inventory, consider these categories to help you assess and decide what you no longer need:
1. Information that is no longer referenced or relevant.
What do you have that has become obsolete?
Sometimes we keep information beyond its lifespan. For example, say you take a business-related course. You use the materials as you put course strategies and techniques in place. You’re still learning and applying, so this information is current and useful. Think of it as ‘live information’.
At some point you may know the material well enough not to refer to it anymore. Or, circumstances will change and the information will no longer be relevant. In either case, once the support materials become redundant let them go and make room to learn something new.
2. Information that is secondary.
What do you have that, despite positive intentions, never gets actioned?
Sometimes we come across information that was inspiring at the time we obtained it. For example, we might have found a marketing plan to follow. Or we held on to notes from a branding workshop we vowed to put into practice.
We keep hold of these sources because they all sound like great ideas. Only we never do anything with them, we do other things instead.
It’s akin to the shirt in your wardrobe you pull out to wear but always put back in favour of another.
The shirt is secondary and let’s face it, so is some of our information. If we’re revisiting the same stuff – and never taking action – it’s time to admit it isn’t priority and let it go. Get rid of it now, and you won’t have to see it again.
3. Information that is a mismatch.
What do you have that doesn’t work for you and likely never will?
On occasion we try things and they just don’t work out as planned.
A while back I attended a workshop and realised afterward the methods didn’t really work for me. While I abandoned the methods, I’d held onto the materials thinking the methods might work if I tried them again later. Sadly it was wishful thinking, so I let them go.
We can be precious about information. Letting go may feel counterintuitive, especially if we’ve invested our time, effort and money. Don’t let such things get in the way of moving on.
We make our best efforts with all good intentions, but the outcome doesn’t always meet our expectations. In these cases, recognise when the information isn’t for you and let it go.
Still holding onto too much information?
A magical thing happens when we clear out what no longer serves us. The thoughts, emotions and attachments we associate with those things go out as well.
We’re left with mental clarity to concentrate on our top most important pursuits. The ones that really matter and deserve our attention now.
If you’re ready to supercharge your focus, get ruthless with your information…