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Conquer CyberOverload

Because I am a household name (at least in my own household), sometimes I am sent books to review for this blog. Once in a while, I actually read them and review them, such as today, for the Joanne Cantor book Conquer CyberOverload. The book is chock-full of useful advice for taming your cyber-demons, but it’s mostly for taming yourself–getting you out of the bad habits that lower productivity and create stress, with multitasking perhaps being #1 on the demon hit parade. But I need to confess that I read this book while multitasking, so perhaps I should provide a disclaimer as to how good a review this might be.

Tantek multitasking

Image by cackhanded via Flickr


It wasn’t even your normal garden variety multitasking, either. I was driving my daughter and three of her fellow marching band members around my town, stopping to let them solicit donations from houses for their annual poinsettia sale fundraiser. So, every few minutes, I put down the book and drove to the next neighborhood, then picked up where I left off. I daresay that I got less out of this book than if I had sat in my easy chair and read it straight through without interruption, but the truth is that I would not have done that at all. It was only because I wanted something to do besides sitting in the car that I read this book at all.
Now that would have been my loss, because the book was interesting. I’ve read (OK, skimmed) books before that help you manage your time properly and get more things done, and I have actually adopted most of those habits. I regularly clear my inbox, I set priorities, I have uninterrupted time to work on projects that require more concentration, I take break days from work (including e-mail) on weekends and sometimes during the week, too. I know from talking to other Internet marketers that I am a bit unusual in these habits, so once in a while, I like to talk about them.
If you’ve never seen any advice like this before, then run out a grab this book, because you need it. Most of that advice wasn’t news to me, but the early parts of the book that explain the brain studies that prove that multitasking is just plain ineffective were a revelation to me. If you don’t believe that structuring your time better will make you more relaxed and more effective, that is worth the price of this book alone.
And it’s a short book (under 100 pages), so you really can make the time to read it in one sitting. (Does the fact that I never got out of the car count as me reading it in one sitting?)
I do wonder why, even though I know all these things, that I do multitask sometimes. I often peek at my e-mail during a meeting in case a client needs me and I do often squeeze in a little work the way I did yesterday in what might otherwise be dead time. I know that it can be less efficient, but I hope that I reserve it for moments such as Sunday when I could have just sat listening to the radio instead of getting something done. But I know that I don’t have the discipline that these experts have. I will always do some multitasking, even if I know it isn’t the best way to use my time. I think that some of the causes of multitasking are irrational, so explaining why you shouldn’t do it might not work for everyone. It doesn’t work 100% for me.
But I think that it would help for Internet marketers to learn some of the lessons in this book. You can’t jump from item to item and think that you are making your best decisions. You can’t expect that your brain will really be able to concentrate on multiple things at the same time–we are literally not wired that way.
And I have another confession to make. Even though I admit to multitasking more than I should, I always write these blog entries (and my books) without switching focus. I find that they go much faster and they come out more readable that way. When people ask how I post each day, I often forget to mention that approach, but it is important. So, try to reserve some focus time for your most important tasks–time when you won’t multitask and won’t be interrupted. You’ll probably find that you are more productive and maybe can even get some free time back to recharge. It’s at least worth a try.

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Mike Moran

Mike Moran is an expert in digital marketing, search technology, social media, text analytics, web personalization, and web metrics, who, as a Certified Speaking Professional, regularly makes speaking appearances. Mike’s previous appearances include keynote speaking appearances worldwide. Mike serves as a senior strategist for Converseon, an AI powered consumer intelligence technology and consulting firm. He is also a senior strategist for SoloSegment, a marketing automation software solutions and services firm. Mike also serves as a member of the Board of Directors of SEMPO. Mike spent 30 years at IBM, rising to Distinguished Engineer, an executive-level technical position. Mike held various roles in his IBM career, including eight years at IBM’s customer-facing website, ibm.com, most recently as the Manager of ibm.com Web Experience, where he led 65 information architects, web designers, webmasters, programmers, and technical architects around the world. Mike's newest book is Outside-In Marketing with world-renowned author James Mathewson. He is co-author of the best-selling Search Engine Marketing, Inc. (with fellow search marketing expert Bill Hunt), now in its Third Edition. Mike is also the author of the acclaimed internet marketing book, Do It Wrong Quickly: How the Web Changes the Old Marketing Rules, named one of best business books of 2007 by the Miami Herald. Mike founded and writes for Biznology® and writes regularly for other blogs. In addition to Mike’s broad technical background, he holds an Advanced Certificate in Market Management Practice from the Royal UK Charter Institute of Marketing and is a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. He also teaches at Rutgers Business School. He is a Senior Fellow at the Society for New Communications Research. Mike worked at ibm.com from 1998 through 2006, pioneering IBM’s successful search marketing program. IBM’s website of over two million pages was a classic “big company” website that has traditionally been difficult to optimize for search marketing. Mike, working with Bill Hunt, developed a strategy for search engine marketing that works for any business, large or small. Moran and Hunt spearheaded IBM’s content improvement that has resulted in dramatic gains in traffic from Google and other internet portals.

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