LearnShareProsper logo Boosting Business_Performance Adele Sommers
by Adele Sommers, Ph.D.
 www.LearnShareProsper.com Adele@LearnShareProsper.com 
In This Issue

April 2017
Volume 13, Issue 4

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Below find this month’s newsletter, hot off the press!

  • Special Message: Dealing with Distractions or Interruptions? Take Your Pick!
  • Feature Article: Overcoming Overload: More Tips for Eliminating “Decision Gridlock”

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Note from the Author

Are You Cycling in a Circular Dilemma?

Circular loop If so, join the club! You are undoubtedly keeping good company with many of your highly respected colleagues, clients, customers, family, and friends.

By now, I hope you’ve perused my last newsletter on ways to move forward if you happen to be feeling “stuck” while making personal or business decisions. This issue is so crucial that I’ve decided to continue the theme in the context of overcoming overload in our lives — the cause of many circular dilemmas that can prevent us from taking action or making choices.

There are many reasons for overload, including:

  • Too many distractions or interruptions
  • Too much information, which becomes impossible to absorb or apply
  • Too many urgent responsibilities, tasks, or goals that demand attention
  • Too many interrelated obstacles, where nothing seems possible until one obstacle finally breaks loose

To support you in surmounting challenges like these, today I’m offering another set of tips and techniques designed to help you blast past the barriers and achieve new personal or professional breakthroughs in record time.

I hope you enjoy this month’s features, and please be sure to share your thoughts by leaving your comments on my Facebook page!

Here’s to your business prosperity,

Adele Sommers, Ph.D., business improvement specialist, author, educator, and award-winning instructional designer

P.S. If you missed any previous issue, please visit the newsletter archive!

Special Message

Dealing with Distractions or Interruptions?
Take Your Pick!

A woman distracted by her mobile device
While we are pondering the many possible reasons for overload, let’s consider the diversions of our focus that occur as either interruptions or distractions. What’s the difference? Here’s what business advisor and coach Rich Schefren has to say on this subject:

“An interruption is external. . . a break in continuity, something unexpected that ‘pops up’ and causes you to divert your attention. Examples: Someone calling your name, an e-mail alert on your computer, a ringing cell phone, a raindrop falling on your head. Interruptions grab your attention by diverting your focus.

“A distraction is internal. It’s an emotional disturbance that requires your own compliance. It’s when your mind is thinking about lunch options while you’re in a crucial business meeting. It’s a gaze out the window to watch the birds fly by or the feeling that you left your iron on in the laundry room. There’s an underlying cause for distractions that divides your attention in a subtle way. Distractions may seem like harmless ‘white noise,’ but they can be highly, well, distracting.

But are there times when either one is a good thing? Yes, in fact, I've found that sometimes self-interruptions can be quite useful whenever I’m experiencing writer’s block, or need an idea that is just not coming to me. At those times, I can simply get up, move around, pour a glass of water, look out the window, and let my mind wander. Soon, the interruption pays off. I receive the idea I needed. This is always a relief because then I stop having that distracting feeling of being stuck!

Feature Article

Overcoming Overload:
More Tips for Eliminating Decision Gridlock

by Adele Sommers

Are you overwhelmed by a constant state of overload? It’s certainly one reason why we can have trouble making decisions, taking an action, or choosing a direction.

Chess pieces on a boardIn a previous article, I discussed two of the frustrating situations that can keep us mired in what I call “decision gridlock”:

  • Worrying incessantly about the “perfect” move
  • The desired move seems too intimidating (or too simple)

When dealing with those challenges, some of the remedies include finding low-risk, low-cost ways to research or try out options before committing to anything. Also, by deconstructing a giant “grand vision” into small steps, and taking only one small step one a time, we can let our successes build momentum and carry us forward at just the right pace.

The article below discusses three more variations of “decision gridlock” that tend to surface because of overload. Overload can strike stealthily, while we’re least expecting it, such as when we suddenly (or gradually) have:

  • Too much information, or an unclear idea of how to apply it
  • Too many pressing tasks, responsibilities, or goals to handle at one time
  • Too many intertwined issues, where everything remains frozen until one aspect finally moves forward

Too Much Information to Process at Once

A man thinking, "Knowledge is power"The amount of information available in the world today has exploded, and still seems to be growing exponentially! We have moved from the Information Age into an era of merely trying to attract and retain people’s awareness, interest and concentration — making human attention one of our scarcest commodities.

Take Ricardo’s situation, for example. Ricardo is a budding entrepreneur who’s trying to learn how to design a new product, market it, set up a blog site, and install an e-commerce system all at the same time. He has been researching all of these topics online and in bookstores. With this much input, he is feeling so overwhelmed that he’s now tempted to give up on all of these projects. What can he do?

Consider what would happen if Ricardo aimed to acquire the information he needs just in time instead of just in case. What’s the difference?

  • In the just-in-case mode, you gather and read everything that might apply, “just in case you need it someday.” That can soon become overwhelming!
  • In the just-in-time mode, you restrict your research to only what serves your immediate needs. You simply shut out everything else by putting it on the side burner until you are ready for it. When the next task comes up on your list, you do your research or comb through your saved information, focusing on only that topic.

By switching to a just-in-time approach, you should soon start experiencing a restored sense of focus that will help you proceed systematically through your resources, thus laying a foundation for success.

Too Many Pressing Tasks or Goals to Focus on at One Time

Man juggling too many tasksSimilar to having too much information, in this situation, Ricardo should stop juggling all things at once and focus on prioritizing everything he needs to get done.

That way, he can concentrate entirely on the very next goal or task on his daily or weekly task list. When he looks at all of the tasks put together, it feels daunting. When he looks at just the next task on the list, it feels doable.

After you sequence your goals and tasks, the key is to stay extremely focused on what to do first, second, and third. If you’re working on Task One and worries about Task Three creep in, just tell yourself, “I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it!”

Then do your utmost to take one step at a time, and don’t let anything derail you as you methodically work through your list.

Every Action Depends on Another Action Occurring First

Otherwise known as a “circular dilemma,” this pattern presents a tricky game plan because all possible moves seem interdependent. This state of affairs might arise when it appears that every aspect of your business growth depends on one or more of the following: 1) carving out more time, 2) generating more income, or 3) getting more help.

Often, each goal seems impossible to attain without first achieving the other two! As long as the situation remains frozen without a breakthrough, one can experience an extreme case of overload.

Take Mark’s Web design business. It’s drowning in unfinished tasks as he struggles to wear every hat. He’s trying to serve his clients’ needs, seek new clients, advertise his services, keep his invoicing current, handle inquiries and interruptions, manage all administrative details, and also see his family for a few hours on weekends. He knows he needs help, but he can’t figure out which priority comes first to dig himself out of the quagmire.

Three circular arrowsIn these situations, I usually help my clients with a root cause analysis to identify which of the needs or issues seem to be producing the majority of the overload. Invariably, one or two issues will surface above all others as the underlying causes.

Whichever issue emerges as the greatest source of inundation, it’s the one to target first. Relentlessly pursue that one issue until it’s resolved. Remain attentive, and try not to become sidetracked by tackling more than one major need at a time. When the first need is conquered, only then jump to the next one.

In conclusion, by continually prioritizing what needs to get done, focusing on one step at a time, and collecting information just in time instead of just in case, you can overcome the overload resulting from too many tasks and too much input. Then, by using a root cause analysis to determine which issues are producing the most grief, and systematically resolving only one at a time, you can eliminate the circular dilemmas that keep you from enjoying the success you deserve!

Copyright 2017 Adele Sommers

The Author Recommends

The Attention Economy

"The Attention Economy" by Thomas Davenport and John BeckIf you stop to think about why it’s become so difficult to function in today’s world without becoming overwhelmed, this book identifies one primary reason for our frequent state of overload: the availability of too much information. We find it challenging to focus effectively on any one thing, since our attention is split in far too many directions.

Thomas Davenport and John Beck, the authors of “The Attention Economy: Understanding the New Currency of Business,” have this to say:

“The universe is available twenty-four hours a day . . . and there’s more distracting information than we can ever absorb. Today more than ever, leaders have to find innovative ways of capturing and directing attention . . . [and] will need to secure the four elements of attention leadership:

  • Focusing their own attention
  • Attracting the right kind of attention to themselves
  • Directing the attention of those who follow them
  • Maintaining the attention of their customers and clients”

By keeping this in mind, you’ll be able to choose more effectively where to place your effort and attention!

About the Author

"Straight Talk" Special Report
"Straight Talk" Workbook

Adele Sommers, Ph.D. is the author of “Straight Talk on Boosting Business Performance” — an award-winning Special Report and Workbook program.

If you liked today’s issue, you’ll love this down-to-earth overview of how 12 potent business-boosting strategies can reenergize the morale and productivity of your enterprise, tame unruly projects, and attract loyal, satisfied customers. It’s accompanied by a step-by-step workbook designed to help you easily create your own success action plan. Browse the table of contents and reader reviews on the description page.

Adele also offers no-cost articles and resources to help small businesses and large organizations accelerate productivity and increase profitability. Learn more at LearnShareProsper.com.

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