Business Productivity

2 simple strategies for overcoming online overwhelm

- November 19, 2016 3 MIN READ

Are you suffering from online overwhelm? That thing where it feels like social media and email are taking over your life and making you feel anxious?

As a very new soloist, I’ve been there too.

Here are the two things I’ve done to get on top of it:

Problem 1: Too many emails

All too often we sign up to newsletters or give out our email address to get access to ebooks, reports or articles that will make our life easier. These resources are all great – but the more of them we download, the more emails we get from their authors selling us their latest course or webinar.

Combine this with our daily work-related correspondence and we find ourselves in all sorts of unproductive trouble.

Solution: Sort and systemise

If you have so many emails in your inbox that it’s becoming overwhelming, my tip is to sort them on the way in.

  1. Create a new folder called “Old Emails” and move everything into it from your inbox. We will deal with these later.
  2. Set up rules which will filter your emails into different folders. For example, I have one for Newsletters where the rule is ‘contains the word unsubscribe’. Another trick is to create a folder called “cc” where the rule is all emails in which you are cc’d. You know that these emails don’t require your immediate action so you can leave reading them for later. Other examples might be having folders for a specific people or clients.
  3. Now you can deal with the Old Emails folder you created. Sort the emails by alphabetical order and move any emails that are business related and need to be actioned back into your inbox. You will now be left with the spam, newsletters and other marketing emails.
  4. Unsubscribe to as many as possible, then delete them. If you have more than one unread message from the same person or business, then you need to unsubscribe.
  5. Depending on its size, continue to tackle this folder on a daily basis. You only need 15 minutes a day, so consider doing it whilst having your morning cuppa!
  6. Continue to attack the newsletters as they come in until you have it under control. I guarantee that once you’ve accomplished this, it will feel like a huge weight has been lifted off your shoulders.

Problem 2: Social media is all consuming

With so many different platforms and so much information to digest, it’s easy to find yourself spending hours consuming as well as producing content for social media. You know it’s a problem when you sit down for ten minutes to catch up on all the latest, and you are still there an hour later.

Solution: Schedule and save

If you are producing content, the best way to decrease your online overwhelm is to schedule your content in advance. I achieve this by setting aside a couple of hours once a month. There are free third party software providers (like Buffer) that offer this service. Alternatively use the in-built schedulers like the one in Facebook.

On the flip side, if you are overwhelmed whilst consuming content some suggestions include:

  1. Designate a specific time for browsing. For example, give yourself 30 minutes whilst eating your lunch or having a coffee. Stick to this time. If you don’t trust yourself to switch off, set yourself an alarm.
  2. Downsize your list of people and businesses you are following. If you can’t remember the last time you liked or commented on content produced by someone, it means that you’re not really engaged. Cut them from your feed.
  3. Use the ‘favourite’ and ‘save’ functions available on platforms like Twitter and Facebook to bookmark content that you like, but will read later. You are being far more productive by batch reading articles together than you are by reading them on an ad hoc basis.

Online overwhelm is a similar feeling to being exposed to physical clutter. It can cloud your thinking, decrease productivity and result in negative emotions. By implementing the ideas above, I’ve been able to decrease the size of my inbox and reduce time spent on consuming social media. This in turn has decreased my stress levels and improved my productivity significantly.

Which means I can now spend more work time on revenue generating activities and more personal time enjoying the things I really love.

Do you have any tried and true tips for overcoming online overwhelm? I’d love to hear about them in the comments!