I love to try new things.  Whether its a new hobby, improving my business methods, or traveling to new place, enriching my life with adventure keeps me happy.  Before I take on a new venture, the first step is to research the topic so I have a foundation of knowledge.  This is a great technique because I want to know what I am getting into and make sure that it is worth the effort I will expend.

The internet is a great tool for these investigations, but there is so much information to take in.  The trick is knowing how to filter the good and bad resources.  I use the following techniques to avoid information overload and be certain that I utilize good sources: 

1. Read articles, blog posts, and/or web pages from credible authorities.  Before you read through an article or post, read the author’s bio to see if they have firm knowledge of the topic.  This can be difficult because there are a lot of Renaissance men and women out there with great advice on multiple topics.  Try to discern if the author has actually experienced or executed the items they write about.  Basically, decide if they are someone who you would take advice from in person.  If you are in search of medical/health, legal, or tax information, take advice only from qualified professionals.

2. Be wary of information gaps.  If you are trying to execute something step-by-step, find an information source that defines the steps in detail.  If you are a visual learner, or if the topic justifies it, check to see if the source includes images related to the process.  For instance, if you are trying to build a bird house, you are going to want to see some process photos or videos as well as a list of materials and tools.  Don’t bother following a source if there are obvious steps missing.

3. Try not to amalgamate information from multiple resources.  If an information source is valid, you should not need to draw from other sources to piece the process together.  If you find that your sources provide conflicting information, it is advisable to find the most commonly agreed-upon methodology and then pick the most concise source.

4. Read what others say about your source.  I always read reviews of products and information.  I find that internet sources sometimes have more flash than substance.  Avoid content that looks professional but does not have opportunities for personal reviews or testimonials.  You may have to search for third-party reviews on other sites to validate a product or information.  When I buy products or need some advice for my 2-year old, you better believe that I want to hear what other parents think about particular products and methods.  Also, be sure to review products and information yourself to share what you have discovered.

5. Once you know the facts, stop searching and execute.  If you are confident in the chosen information source, don’t obsess and continue to gather data.  The more you procrastinate and worry, the less likely it is that you will try something!