What to Do About All that Stuff

You know the stuff I mean: ebooks, videos, books, training materials, blog posts you mean to read, and so on…

I have a small confession to make. I’m not new to freelancing, but I’m a repeat victim of the Shiny New Object Syndrome. Simply put, I love to try new things–whether they be ecourses, new social media tools, books, and so on.

You’ve probably guessed this about me already by reading some of my posts (especially those posts about trends).

The trouble with trying new things is that, if they aren’t managed properly, they can take clutter up your workspace and take all your available time.

In this post, I’ll discuss this problem and share a few simple tips that help me manage all that stuff.

You’re Not Alone

First of all, know that you’re not alone.

Collecting, purchasing, or otherwise obtaining too many resources is quite common among freelancers. I mentioned this problem to another freelancer recently and she replied that the topic came up recently when she was meeting with a group of freelancers. Apparently, nearly everyone in the group had purchased ebooks, training materials, or other resources that they were planning to use “some day.”

Of course, just because the problem is common, that doesn’t mean it’s any less overwhelming.

Control the Clutter Up Front

This is probably the most important tip for managing your stuff. You don’t get it in the first place, you can’t accumulate too much of it.

The simplest way to control the stuff that we freelancers tend to accumulate is to reduce what you get or try. If you have less stuff to worry about, the less cluttered your schedule (and workspace) will be.

One way to stop from accumulating too much stuff is to ask yourself a few simple questions before you try something new. Here are some questions that I use:

  • How important is this likely to be? Is it just something that I’m mildly interested in, or is it likely to have a positive impact on my work? For me, an example of this was my decision the Google+ social media platform. I felt it was important to get involved since it will likely be a major player on the social media scene.
  • How will learning this new material/platform impact my time? If you don’t have time to use the new information or if learning about it will eat into your project time, it may not be worth getting.
  • What do reviewers say? If you’re going to buy some training materials or a book, it’s especially important to learn what others think. You don’t want to waste your hard-earned money.
  • If there’s a cost, can I afford it? Some great resources are just priced too high to be practical for the average freelancer.

Of course, even if you limit the new stuff you acquire you still have to deal with the stuff you already have. That’s why it’s important to manage the clutter you already have.

Manage the Clutter You Already Have

Is your office like mine? Do you have piles of books, waiting to be read, everywhere?

Are you constantly bookmarking online materials so that you can get to them later?

Here are some tips:

  • Create a place for everything. Books should be put on the shelf, not lying about your office. Create files on your computer for ebooks and videos that you download. Bookmark blog posts.
  • Decide what’s most valuable. Of all of that stuff you haven’t gotten to you, what is most likely to impact you the most (in a positive way)? Make note of that and plan to use that material first.
  • Reward yourself with learning. If you’ve let resources pile up and if you love learning as much as I do, why not use those resources as rewards? Did you finish the big project? Good, now let yourself kick back with an ebook or video for a while.

Don’t Stop Exploring

Just because Shiny New Objects can clog up your schedule, there’s no reason to totally stop exploring and learning new things. In fact, I’ve committed to being a life-long learner and I hope that you have too.

Properly managed, trying and learning new things can enhance your business and enrich your life.

What Do You Do With All Your Stuff?

This advice in this post may sound easy, but it can be quite challenging to implement. If you’ve developed the habit of accumulating more material than you can use, it can be tough to break that habit. Hang in there, though. You can do it.

Do you tend to gather more resources than you can practically use? What do you do with your collection?

Image by Lara604