Three Ways to Avoid On-Line Distraction

I think we all want to be more productive at work. Here’s the thing. We need to avoid mind clutter. The first of  three ways to avoid on-line distraction is to avoid excessive FREE-Offers. That goes a long way in helping us keep focused on our goals.

Think about this. It may be the most influential 4-letter word in English. It’s an F-word, but not THAT one! ‘Free’ is one that moves people to action.

What is it about F-R-E-E that compels us to move? To GRAB whatever freebie lands in front of us? Whether it’s real-world clothes, kitchen ware, or digital articles or tools – admit it. You’re as hard pressed as I am to pass up many of these offers.

Here’s evidence that a significant number of people are moved to action on the internet when they see ‘free’.

Tom Q. Johnson blogs on Lead Pages that a Split Test was performed on two headlines:

  1.  “How I Sold $2,442,832.00 on Low-Tech Webinars*”
  2. “NEW FREE TRAINING: How To Create A Webinar That Sells…In 28 Days Or Less!”

Which one do you think came out ahead? You guessed it. Number 2 garnered a 22% more response rate.

Free on Craigslist

My friends Suzi and John unexpectedly got pregnant. My good friend confided in her 7th month “we’ve furnished the baby’s room and filled the dresser with baby clothes. All from the Free Page on Craigslist!”

Similarly, a local newspaper reported about a woman in the Fraser Valley who inherited 3 acres. She wanted to start a hobby farm. She had no funding, so she started combing Free Pages. She credits the hobby farm she has today to the freebies she found, including a horse, and smaller animals. 

Free things in real-time are good and can contribute to our productivity in a big way. No always so when we pursue free offers on-line.

The Need To Avoid Mind Clutter From Excessive Free Offers

It’s difficult to turn down a free offer – admit it. Does this mean the next step is Hoarders Anonymous, and that we all need Hoarders’ Intervention? Not at all, but many of us get distracted by the offers of free reports, newsletters, blogs, and tools we see daily. We end up downloading more and subscribing to more than we can ever use. We are just not as productive with our time as we could be, even losing sight of our goals.

This issue is a proverbial elephant in the room that many people are just now recognizing. I have to admit that I think there is some synchronicity going on. I chose this topic yesterday as I was reevaluating the long list of newsletters and blogs that I subscribe to. Then I started writing on the topic post last night. This morning I woke up to find a blog post in my in-box from friend Tracey-Lynne’s blog ‘The Art of Tuesday’, which  approaches the same topic. Read here how eloquently  Tracey weaves thoughts of mind clutter and time into her post

On the internet is such an overload of information. It’s instant mind clutter if you don’t go in with a clear idea of what you’re there for. Or at least a time limit. Occasionally you might just need to zone out.

You might want to go to the internet to search for cute baby animal pictures or new boots. That’s harmless IF you set a time limit. You may even want to set a timer and place it next to your monitor. Otherwise, you might feel like you’re floating around in an intergalactic stratosphere where no concept of time exists!

How I Arrived At This Point

I decided I wanted to work as a freelancer about two years ago. Since then countless hours – likely hundreds – have whizzed by wasted while on the internet.

As meaningless as eating empty calories. Those blizzards or chocolate croissants seem like a gift from heaven at first taste. But as usual with instant gratification, the moment you’ve licked the last morsel off your lips you feel hungry, sick, or simply regretful.

My experience in the past year has shown me a few things we can do to avoid mind clutter and stay focused. I’ve been on a mission in the past couple of weeks to do the things I outline below. Already, I feel less overwhelmed and more on task throughout the day. Here are 3 ways to avoid mind clutter and stay focused.

The First Way To Avoid Mind Clutter

The first way to avoid information overload is to unsubscribe from excess newsletter and blog subscriptions. Keep no more than you have time to read. This was tough for me. I’m an information junkie, as are all writers and other literary types I’ve ever known. Plus there are such an abundance of quality newsletters and blogs. The trick, though, is to stick to those that are directly relevant to you. To your goals. For me as a freelance B2B web content and case study copywriter, I am limiting myself to newsletters and blogs about how to write, market, or find prospects in this blended niche.

So it’s the best approach if your subscription list is miles long. Go ahead and do it. Unsubscribe to newsletters and blogs unless you CAN’T reach your business goal without them! Now, before you stop reading because you believe in the benefits of being the ultimate “voracious reader of online content from diverse sources”, hear me out. You can still read voraciously from a diverse range of sources, but just don’t have them all pinging into your inbox on a continual basis.

To keep feeding your voracious appetite, all you need (besides the content you subscribe to) is a list of your favourite go-to sources, which you can keep in a file somewhere, and reward yourself by going there to read when you are all finished your work for the day.

Here are 8 links to newsletters and blogs that I’ve spared from the culling. (ie I still subscribe to them)

  1. Uberflip  Hub  
  2. HubSpot Blog
  3. Casey Hibbard’s ‘Stories That Sell’
  4. Jon Morrow’s Boost Blog Traffic
  5. Content Marketing Institute
  6. Lead Pages
  7. Copyblogger 
  8. The Google Gooru

Note: There are more great blogs I read. I simply no longer subscribe to them all.

There you have it. The first of three ways to avoid mind clutter. I hope you’ll drop in again next week for the last two ways.