The demands we face today can feel overwhelming. Our to-do lists are never-ending, and the pace of technological changes continues to accelerate. It may seem as though as soon as we have adapted to a new technology, we must learn something new. Although there are certain basic, underlying principles that never change, the noise around us is constant.
Before the Internet, all that we had access to was the information physically available around us, like newspapers, books, television, or even conversations with colleagues and friends. Today, many barriers to information have been removed, and this, combined with the creation of content by previously silent communicators, makes it difficult to sift through what matters and what is simply clutter.
Paradoxically, we need to slow down to increase our momentum and be more effective.
Ways to Make Sense of the Noise
Read and Research
Reading widely and researching unknown topics will help you discern what truly matters and how the context around you, including technology and your industry, is evolving. Knowledge is the most important tool we have. The more you learn about the world around you, the better equipped you will be to respond proactively to it.
Find out what others are saying around you. Listen to the opinions that are contrary to what you think or believe. These differing opinions are the most important because we tend to filter out what doesn’t match our views; listening to these opposing opinions can help broaden your mind and your way of thinking. Also, if you have an important decision to make, find ways to make that decision as a team with as many diverse points of view as possible. In this way, you will be able to reach a better, more educated and well-rounded outcome.
Test Your Environment
When you don’t know what path to take, test your environment via safe-to-fail experiments. These are experiments that allow you to find out the reality of what is going on around you. If you have a hypothesis, design experiments that will shed more light on the situation. For instance, if you want to design a new product for your consulting business but aren’t too sure about how your clients will respond, you can start with introducing a one-time trial with long-time clients to see whether they like it. From there, you can establish an educated conclusion to help you decide how to continue your process.
Clear Your Mind
To clear your mind, do what you know you have to do and haven’t been doing. Those tasks that keep popping up in your mind are notifying you for a reason. They are things you need to take care of, and you haven’t written them down or done anything about them. Write them down so that you can ensure you will complete them.
Suppose there are 20 things on your to-do list that you haven’t started. Once you write them down and start getting through these tasks, you will find tasks that are no longer important or relevant to you the minute you write them down. You can let them go and start clearing valuable space in your mind (How to Empty Your Mind for Better Problem Solving & Performance).
If you don’t know where to start with one of the tasks you need to work on, begin to take action on whatever comes to mind first. You can also break the project into smaller pieces or schedule specific times during the day to continue moving forward. For more on how to get your projects started, read my blog How to Effectively Set Your Next Project in Motion.
To start clearing items from your to-do list more effectively, try working with a virtual assistant (This is How a Virtual Assistant Can Enhance Your Business). He or she can help you accomplish the tasks that you have meant to do and haven’t been able to work on. With a clearer mind, you will have more mental space to pay attention to what is going on around you in real time.