I’ve been working with people and helping them figure out their personality styles for years, but I’m brand-new to blogging.
If you’ve ever thought about trying a brand-new endeavor — like starting a business or a blog — you’ve probably done something similar.
Problem is, there’s so much information out there, you can start to feel like you’re drowning.
I wasn’t trying to slowly sip from a thin trickle of information about blogging and marketing. I was trying to drink from a fire hydrant. And I was getting sopping wet.
I wasn’t really swallowing a single drop of information. Instead it was just piling up all around me, making me feel frustrated, uncertain, foolish, and pretty damp.
That’s when I brought my knowledge of personality types to bear on this problem. How could I figure out how to drink from the fire hydrant in a way that actually quenched my thirst for knowledge? And when did I need to just step away from the flow and dry out?
How we take in and use information
There are literally thousands of personality profiling tools and methods, but I’m going to take just a slice of one of them to show two common ways people take in and use information.
Then we’ll go through some techniques each of those personality types can use to figure out when to keep drinking from the fire hydrant, and when it’s time to take a break.
Data gatherers have an insatiable desire for new information and a seemingly unlimited capacity to take more on board.
For them, the more data there is to take in, the better. The internet is nirvana for data gatherers — a limitless expanse of information on any possible topic to be explored. They’re in their personal utopia.
Data gatherers definitely intend to take action on their information, but they don’t rush into it. They’d rather gather up all the data on any topic to make sure they haven’t missed anything before they start, and they’re always hoping to sop up some more.
The potential pitfall for data gatherers is disorganization. They have so much information stockpiled that it isn’t organized in any logical way, so they have a hard time figuring out how to take action when they’re ready. While they don’t feel overwhelmed, they certainly don’t feel ready to put that information to use.
If this sounds like you, watch out for these problems:
- Not knowing when to take action. While the allure of new information is compelling, seeking out that latest article can be just one more form of procrastination that keeps you from accomplishing your real goal. Every now and then, stop and assess the information you already have. Do you have enough to move forward right now? If you do, go for it. If you don’t, only research the areas that you don’t have enough data for yet.
- Not sorting your current information. You have huge piles of data, bookmarks for informative pages online, and lots of reference books — but you can’t find anything. Take the time to organize your data based on the actual goal you have in mind. Start from the beginning and find the information that helps you accomplish your first task, and keep a file for it. Then move on to the next step, and the next. That way you can actually use your information, instead of just collecting it.
Where data gatherers collect information for its own sake, data assessors only collect information that can be used in some way.
Data assessors want to drink from the fire hydrant, but only if they’re thirsty. They like to sort and organize data as it comes in, so they know exactly what pieces they already have in place and where there are still gaps in their knowledge.
Data assessors are quick to make decisions and use the data they’ve collected for a purpose, and they usually don’t bother to keep stockpiling information once they have what they need.
Sure, they might miss out on a juicy piece of information, but the one they already have serves their purposes, so why sweat it?
Data assessors never suffer from confusion about how to put their information to use, but they do often feel overwhelmed with information overload. For them, the internet feels like a massive abyss.
When they get too much data in at once, they don’t have the time to figure out where each piece goes. They get immobilized, because new information keeps coming before they’re ready for it.
If you’re a data assessor, you need to know:
- When to stop taking in information. If you’re getting soaked by the torrent of information online, it’s time to get out and dry off. If you’re already feeling overwhelmed, take a break and assess what you already know. When you discover specific missing pieces of information you know you need, you can hop back into the water knowing just which drops you need to accomplish your goals.
- When to keep taking in information. Data assessors often feel overwhelmed by all the information out there, so it’s tempting to say “Stop! Too much!” Sometimes, though, you really don’t have enough — you just don’t want to face the gushing river again. Be honest with yourself about whether you’ve really mastered a topic. If you need to know more, hold your breath and dive in again. You can hop out as soon as you’ve gotten what you need.
It’s hard to strike the balance of knowing when you need more and when you need to turn off the hydrant to catch your breath. But it’s worth it to start putting that data to use in smarter ways.
How about you — are you a gatherer or an assessor?
Do you ever have a hard time figuring out when to stop drinking from the information hydrant? Let us know how you’ve dealt with it in the comments.
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