One of my clients is a life coach. She spends a lot of time absorbing information that promises to increase efficiency, help cut out procrastination and grow your business in 5 easy steps. As a coach, it’s important for her to have solid information to pass on to her trainees. I’ll admit it, I read a lot too. I’m even guilty of recommending books to her. But then all of a sudden she’s sending me recommendations and webinar links to check out and I found myself getting irritated. I had to examine why. And here’s what my introspection yielded.
There is a point when the consumption of information becomes gratuitous rather than beneficial. The law of diminishing returns applies. It’s one thing to be reading for knowledge about things you don’t know yet, and quite another to wile away a few hours clicking through listicles in the sidebar of other listicles.
Every minute you spend reading about how to make your life and business better is a minute spent not making your life and business better. So when should you be reading vs. taking action? The answer is simple but you probably won’t like it. The rule is: seek out information when you need it.
If you have to do something you’ve never done before and you need to know how, then look it up, find the relevant guides, advice and reviews and use them to carry out the mission at hand. That’s wise consumption. The alternative is you absorbing an endless stream of possibly high quality, useful and actionable content but never seeming to have the time or energy to… take action.
Attention is a finite resource. Perhaps the most finite of resources in this, the age of info glut. That’s why it’s more important than ever to develop a mastery of your own focus. That means developing the ability to say no and walk away from tempting but ultimately unimportant activities that may feel productive but really aren’t.
Yes, you can still read for pleasure. I highly recommend it. Just don’t do it instead of your actual work and don’t try to justify it as part of your work. It’s not research unless it’s linked to something specific that you need to get done.
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