How to Stop Accumulating Stuff and Start Acting?

  • Lifehacks
  • 15 min read
How To Stop Accumulating Stuff

My dear lovers of self-education and self-development, admit it honestly, on your computer there is also a bunch of once downloaded materials from many experts of varying degrees of hmm … expertise? A bunch of books, films and workshops on a topic that interests you very much. Or not really interested, but when you saw the opportunity to get it for free, you downloaded it, thinking, “I’ll come back to this later.”

Do you also have a lot of useful things in your bookmarks marked “learn later”? Save pictures to secret Pinterest boards? Are you saving up Facebook links for the future? Didn’t know what it was possible there? That’s the same! I taught where you studied 🙂

How many times have you looked into these Klondike? OK, how many times have you looked there, discovered some material and started studying it? And even if this happened, did you then apply it all or put it off until the moment when you master everything that you have, thinking to yourself “I am still studying the question”?

Some do the same with paid content, although this still happens much less often. Nevertheless, many have paid accounts on Cursera, Skillshare and other equally wonderful resources that we have, they rarely are.

A lot of questions at once, I understand. This is because today I want to talk about the phenomenon of the accumulation of material (especially free material), which, in fact, stands in the way of real action. If you are familiar with this situation, let’s think together why this is happening and what can be done about it. This topic can be no less relevant for those who write scientific work (oh, these golden days of abstracts and WRC!). So be sure to join us.

Lying Down with Our Feet in The Direction of The Dream

Reason number one is very simple. In fact, the accumulated information performs an important function – it serves as a tick in our head. Collecting all this useful charm, we seem to lie with our feet in the direction of the dream. We have taken steps, we are great, we are on the way to the goal.

Undoubtedly, it is necessary to collect the material, but at some point you need to stop and start working with the material, unless, of course, you believe in such memorization methods as sleeping with your head on a textbook, throwing a coin at the full moon and rubbing a dog’s nose at a metro station “Revolution square”. The real movement towards a dream is action.

And even the study of the material in itself is not the main thing (well, perhaps, you do it for the sake of the process, but then it’s all not about you at all), the main thing is its application! Even if it comes down to writing an abstract. Although it would be great if you chose the most applied abstract topics that may be useful to you in the future, and not just spend time to get an assessment.

I am constantly learning, but there are times when I don’t take any courses, don’t attend any seminars, and don’t even read anything about the fundamental for weeks. At this time, I do something different – through practice, I process the information received into knowledge and skills. Without this, information has no value, wherever it is stored, even in your head.

And if we revel in the fact that we took the first step – we collect information and carefully prepare to start, but all this has been going on for almost an eternity, then we are doing nothing more than self-sabotage. It is usually associated with a whole bunch of fears and false beliefs – fear of failure, fear of success, fear of change, imposed goals, it doesn’t matter.

The result is the same – the lack of promotional actions.

There could be a whole post just about this, but, unfortunately, I’m not a psychologist. And, by the way, I am almost sure that it is a good psychologist who will help to figure out where the legs of such behavior “grow” and what to do about it. You can, of course, yourself. But, in any case, the first step is admitting the problem, admitting that for some reason it is beneficial for you not to start doing what you want or supposedly want to do.

We Control the Situation

The second story is trying to grasp everything at once. It seems to us that we are obliged to keep track of everything that concerns the topics of interest to us, and if we come across relevant information, we do not evaluate it, but simply store it for further consideration, “when the time appeared.” In addition, we are very afraid that at the very moment when we are distracted for a second and relax, something important will pass by, and we will miss it. It is not worth mentioning that time, most likely, will never appear, and the “important” will lie with the unimportant somewhere in the bins. But in this way, we are in control of the situation, and we feel calmer.

And let it be, whatever the child is amused with, but this imaginary calmness turns into self-criticism for the fact that we are so lazy, there are so many waiting in the wings, and we cannot figure it out. The knowledge that we already have seems insignificant in comparison with the mass of everything unexplored, and we feel unprofessional, stupid, underdeveloped. And this internal dialogue can last for years.

Take it as a fact – you cannot be aware of everything, it concerns your work, hobbies or some current events. A month without social networks confirmed once again that nothing will change at all if you miss something from the endless stream of news, even on a professional topic. Moreover, most of the sources to one degree or another repeat each other.

As for the important, believe me, you will notice the really interesting immediately, and you will not want to postpone it until later. And significant events will jump out on you from everywhere, and you will not have a chance to miss them. Not a lot of really important and meaningful things happen around! This understanding makes life very much easier and helps to loosen the grip.

We Suspend Another Influence

Masha recommended a good book, Sasha is studying on interesting courses and is ready to share materials, and some unfamiliar girl in my feed reposted this article, which may be curious – there are so many likes. And all this instantly becomes important and necessary for us.

Perhaps Masha is your book guru, and Sasha is the coolest professional in your field, and this slightly changes the situation, because nobody canceled the authorities. And yet, have you asked yourself a question – is this what you need right now or in the near future? Is this very important and not worth putting off (indefinitely)?

There are so many people around us with interesting lives and unusual hobbies, all professional and always improving. Thanks to social networks, we are literally captured by endless recommendations – what else to do, what else to read, what to see. Headlines like “Everyone Should Know” and “20 Life Changed Books” are constantly adding fuel to the fire. And now something begins to seem necessary to us that we did not even suspect yesterday. And, of course, all this finds its place on bookshelves, hard drives and in the backyards of our subconscious. And the free availability of many resources only aggravates the situation.

We Can’t Resist in Front of The Freebie

Here it is, so useful, well-advertised and just now free or very cheap. It is almost impossible to resist this temptation, especially since you do not lose anything, for free. You don’t even have to go into the essence of what is being offered to us, the main thing is to stock it now, while it is in front of your nose, and sometime in the future, “at your leisure”, return to this and study.

You know, let’s Blog. School I had several people who won participation in a course, consultation or other forms of study. Not all of them even realized their winnings! But some of them later came for the same for money (when the winnings expired). And then they gave their all 100%.

We are not always able to appreciate what we got just like that, without effort. And, on the other hand, when deciding to buy something for money, we form an intention and are ready to devote a certain amount of time to this topic. In addition, we study the person to whom we bring money, we make sure whether he is authoritative enough for us, whether his knowledge that he will pass on to us is valuable, whether we are ready to pay for it. And, having received a positive answer, we work, already having a credit of trust in the source, which means that we are more open and better absorb what we are offered.

Plus, we feel ashamed in front of ourselves if we miss what we paid for. And we study the material more consistently, which in some cases is the only way to benefit from it (many systems work only in aggregate, step by step, step by step, with all the “stupid” and “understandable” recommendations and exercises).

All psychologists, coaches and consultants work according to this principle – the cost of sessions should be tangible in the client’s budget, so that he is open to changes and results, motivated to move forward and not to stretch the pleasure, to really work, and not sit out his pants.

Also, those who come to trainings paid for by the employer, walk in the bar or sit on their phones, while their colleagues, who paid for themselves, work in full and get the result. Training from leading gurus in all industries is infinitely expensive, but this ensures that those who come there will treat everything with due attention and enthusiasm.

Free sources can wait in the wings for years, we scan them without concentrating too much, and, frankly, among them there can really be a lot of garbage that will only take up our time. In most cases, the author will prefer to set a price for something that carries value, and this is true, except perhaps for victories in competitions and grants – such a trust I want to justify! Well, if you have downloaded paid courses and books on torrents, then I will leave this without comment.

So, What to Do?

Everyone has their own reasons for accumulating information. But simple techniques will help to relate to this process more consciously and to clear a place in your life for the most important and most important thing – for real action.

Prioritize and select one or more areas in which you want to develop now. Although this number is different for everyone, there cannot be too many of them, otherwise you will be scattered, and everything will go in a circle again. Even within one global area, there are many subtopics.

For example, I study not only blogging as such, but marketing, internet marketing, branding, copywriting, photography, time management – that’s it, to begin with. And if I decide to single out blogging as one topic, nothing will come of it. For example, now I am studying not just the topic of social networks, but specifically Facebook. And I understand very well what to do and what to grab onto. When I’m done with this, I’ll move on to another aspect.

The clearer and already formulated the subject of your study, the less panic it causes and the easier it is to understand whether the information that is now in front of you applies to it.

Review your educational priorities from time to time based on your current goals and values. Do not be afraid to abandon a topic without studying it thoroughly. This is not always a sign of inconsistency, the ability to change a decision in time and reconsider the choice made is also very important.

Now clear out everything that has already been accumulated. Select what relates to the selected areas, divide the rest into thematic groups and collect in one place under the heading “For the future”. Some topics may lose their relevance during the time that you have materials stored – do not regret it and get rid of it. Even if you once paid for it. This is a dead weight on your conscience. Start from scratch and draw conclusions so as not to repeat your mistakes and no longer make rash spending.

Analyze the format of the materials – is it convenient for you? Are you really going to work with him? At one time, I actively saved up audio books, but practice has shown that I do not perceive them, and they are almost not in demand. Some electronic formats may not be compatible with your reading devices. Get rid of what you don’t use, or find alternatives in a more convenient format.

Sort everything that you put on hold for the near future. Those things that you easily recognized and remembered about, when and why you saved them, are a priority. Chances are they are worthwhile and important to you. If something takes a few minutes to identify and the same amount to remember why you need it, it probably won’t be worth it to you. Leave only what you liked at first glance, what you know about, why you need this information, what makes you enthusiastic.

And by the way, pay attention to the design and technical quality of the materials. Fuzzy scans and similar things that are inconvenient to work with you happened to be either because it is something very valuable and rare, or because you did not even look at what you were grabbing.

Place everything in thematic folders. Make sure that the names of the files reflect their content, so it will be easier to access them. Books and prints should also be arranged by topic.

Make a study plan (realistic please!). Estimate how long it will take. Prioritize your materials, move from more important, interesting and urgent to less.

Now try to go back to what you put off for later. How do you feel knowing that you can return to this only after a certain time? “Well, fine”? “It’s a pity that it takes so long to reap”? Perhaps you want to move some topics forward, then it is worth sorting and cleaning them too, and maybe you decide to get rid of some completely.

Don’t save materials you ‘ve already learned that you didn’t find particularly useful. If they have a grain of meaning, write it all down in a separate file or notebook and do not keep the original. You may want to do the same with those that were more useful to you! If anything, separate them from those that remain to be studied.

Try to completely abandon the accumulation of materials for a while. After you study everything that you already have, or at least feel that you can breathe calmly and really work with information, and not just store it, you will be able to gain new ones.

Before you download or buy something, take the time to research descriptions and reviews. It will take 5-10 minutes. If the recommendation of someone from whom you learned about it is weighty for you, then even less! Consciously let something into your life, do not litter your house, media, or head. Always know what you are planning to do with new information and when exactly.

If this approach is inconvenient for you, then save everything new and free in a separate place, and once a day / week / month clean up everything that you have accumulated. Didn’t have time to read the article on the link during this time, didn’t remember and didn’t want to return? Is it so important and necessary for you?

For some, keeping such lists “would be nice someday…” really helps to clear their heads and relieve the stress associated with the need to keep this in mind. If for you these lists and archives are a kind of cemetery, where you can never look later, congratulations, you have found your life hack. The main thing, along with the optional, is not to bury something important in this cemetery.

And the most important thing – I want to remind you once again that education is not very valuable in and of itself. Much more important is not how much we know, but what we do with this knowledge, what changes in our own life and the lives of other people we make thanks to them. If you know why you need the information stored in your materials (but, by the way, the answer “for fun” is also considered), it will be much easier for you to discard unnecessary things.

Friends, do you know everything that I am talking about? How do you deal with this problem? Share what works for you and how you get the most out of the abundance of free educational content around us.