Hi, my name is Robyn and I am a Research Addict.
When I’m in denial, I prefer to consider myself the Queen of Research. I can spend hours trawling internet pages in my quest to find the most relevant, informed, accurate information. About anything! Whether I want to buy a paper shredder for my office, or write an informative blog about using colour in websites, or sourcing images.
I subscribe to all sorts of feeds and blogs. I download all the free Hubspot articles as they come out. I lay my hands on lots of ebooks. Then I soak up their information like a sponge.
Unfortunately, like a true, living sponge, much of what I soak up gets filtered and expunged. Brain saturation is a regular occurrence. Inevitably, when I need to check some facts or figures at a future time, instead of searching back through my carefully saved pdfs, bookmarked links and stacks of post-it note reminders, I turn directly to Google again to find the latest and greatest answer (or at least, what Google has deemed to be late and great).
For a lot of people, the first few results are all that they check to find the answer (the really intrepid ones might even use the I’m Feeling Lucky button). I, on the other hand, will click on all the most promising results from page 1, and often pages 2, 3 and beyond. I want more than the “most popular” idea. I like to form an opinion based on a balanced view, getting all sides of the story when possible.
Is too much Research a Waste of Time? <- Click to Tweet
My business coach likes to remind me that “research” is one of my biggest timewasters. Apparently it’s my inner procrastinator’s clever excuse for not doing the things that I really should be doing (like actual paid work).
I know it’s true. I know that a good blog post should only take me a couple of hours, not 5 or 6.
But here’s the funny thing… it seems that often just after I’ve read a blog or article someone will mention that they need something for which I am now armed with the relevant (and up-to-date) answer. Whether you want to call that phenomenon “the universe speaking”, “the Secret”, or just pure coincidence or luck, it happens. A lot.
A bonus is that I come across as the fountain of knowledge, and get that warm fuzzy feeling that happens when I have been able to help someone, thanks to my innate sponginess. So for me research is a rewarding timewaster, when it results in those warm-fuzzies.
The Value of Research for your Business
For anybody engaged in writing, whether a blog or a book, some amount of research is essential. Even fiction writers need to spend time researching real life to ensure their novels “make sense”. Thriller-writer and NYT bestselling author James Rollins tweeted recently:
“I love research. In fact, I may love it too much. Don’t lose sight of the end goal: to write the book.”
When it comes to writing content for your business – whether it’s your brochure, your website, or your blog – research is important. But as per the tweet above, don’t lose sight of the main objective – getting finished and getting published or printed.
- If you’re writing for your website, research the best keywords for SEO specific to your business. The image below highlights the importance of research for good SEO.
- If you’re writing a brochure, or your About page, research your competitors so that you can understand what benefits you offer over and above theirs.
- If you’re writing a blog post, or an email newsletter, research your ideal customer or subscriber so that you can deliver the sort of news and content they’ll find interesting.
But don’t fall into the trap of researching to the point where it overwhelms you. You’ll start to stress – that your competitors might have done more research than you, that you haven’t got the perfect handle on your ideal client, or that your blog post isn’t detailed enough. If you give in to overwhelm, then you’ve done all that research for zero gain.
How to keep the Research monster under control
If information overload is a regular occurrence for you, how can you limit your research?
One way is to set a timer (one that you can’t easily reset or ignore) and use whatever you have by the end of the time period. I use this method when searching for images for blogging (yes, looking for the perfect image is a form of research, even if it’s more fun than brain-taxing) – seriously, those first 10 promising images I’ve located should suffice, without the need to keep trawling through another 5 photo sites.
Another is to realise when you’re being too perfectionist. This wikihow article is quick and to-the-point – a 14-step program to control the demons of research addiction: http://www.wikihow.com/Control-Perfectionism
And if you feel like wasting a little more time researching one person’s clever method for getting at least 80% of things done while procrastinating, try: http://www.stonesoup.org/meetings/0601/pim.pres/procrastination.pdf
I recognise my addiction but have decided not to beat myself up too much about how much time I spend on “research”. It’s actively expanding my knowledge, helping me make decisions and hopefully helping others via my blog. Feel free to contact me if you want the Queen of Research to build a better website for your business…