The Clutter of Too Much Research


"The problem today is one of too many choices, 
few of which compel but all of which distract."

Joel Bryant


I went on a big research kick recently. 

Research #1: The Perfect Vacuum

First, I wanted to find the perfect, simple, lightweight, bagless vacuum for my hardwood I spent hours doing research online. 

I searched Amazon, vacuum websites, and blogs to see what people were saying about the vacuums that caught my interest. I found lots of conflicting information, many completely contrary reviews, and found my stress level going through the roof. 

And in the end, the models I wanted were no longer available, no longer findable locally, or not exactly what I expected, so I ended up going with the vacuum that felt the best to me in the very last store I was willing to check out (and it's completely not what I thought I would choose: cordless, orange, and tiny...but wow, does it work!) 

Research #2: The Perfect Dance Fitness DVD

Then I wanted to find a good dance fitness DVD (I have never used one before, but I had an inspiration that dancing would be a fun way to exercise during these long, dark, cold winters here in Minnesota). So again, I spent hours doing research. 

And basically got myself tied up in knots, because for every great review, there is a very vocal complainer. And each review led to more DVDs to explore, so I followed rabbit trail after rabbit trail. 

Finally, I ended up simply choosing the DVD that spoke to my heart, and it literally took my breath away. I was expecting to be inspired by a fast-moving, DWTS style dance, and ended up with the New York City Ballet workout (after crying when I found it - see, there are these tears again!) 

Research #3: The Perfect Route to Blogging

And then my latest research has taken me down the blogging road. I have hesitated for a number of years to start a blog, but I keep feeling little sparks of inspiration. Unexpectedly finding the book 'Blogging for Bliss' yesterday connected me with what I really love about blogs, and I felt those inspiration sparks again. 

However, when I started doing the research, I ended up getting completely overwhelmed. 

I visited a lot of blogs that felt wildly cluttered with photos, posts, ads, and other ephemera (that's a word I'm very drawn to lately for some reason). I also read a lot of information that makes me feel behind, out of touch, and hopelessly inept. 

I also started to lose my feeling of inspiration for blogging. 

What Was Really Going on

Once I recognized what was happening (and believe me, I didn't recognize it as soon as I would have liked!), I stopped, took a step back, and noticed what was going on. 

I was looking for information outside of myself, and found myself getting drawn in to the advice, opinions, reviews, and beliefs of others....and well as the swirl of overwhelm and heavy feeling that is my clue that I'm heading in the wrong direction. 

Now, there's nothing wrong with looking for information when you need it, don't get me wrong. 

But what I was doing was forgetting, in the moment, to check in with myself. 

How did I feel about what I was finding and learning? 

What did I want? 

How was I feeling each step along the way? 

What felt wonderful and inspiring, and what felt heavy and draining and exhausting? 

I clearly wasn't getting that message this week...I had to experience "research clutter" three times before the light bulb went off in my head! 

And here's what I was reminded of: 

Information can be extremely helpful....that is, until it starts affecting you negatively. When you start feeling stressed or overwhelmed, that's your cue that you're getting off track. 

That's your reminder to step back, breathe, and check in with yourself. 

Are you inspired to continue researching? Does it feel good to you? 

Or is it time to step out of the research cycle, use your own guidance, make a decision (or set it aside for now), and move forward?