For the longest time, my wife has been trying to get me to adopt a healthier lifestyle. Obviously my diet plays a huge part in that, but I never found the motivation and thought exercise was just enough. All that changed when I started taking inventory of my diet. Here’s what I ate just yesterday:
- 4 cups of coffee.
- 6 Dumplings.
- Slice of pizza.
- Subway turkey sandwich (1/4).
- Fried rice.
- Pasta salad.
- One rib.
- Handful of Doritos.
- Cup of Sprite.
Horrifying, isn’t it? The only remotely justifiable reason I can give for this is that we had a church picnic on top of our normal meals. Still, just looking at that list repulsed me. It also made it very obvious why I need to watch my diet and what I need to cut out.
In the same way, taking stock of our information intake can be just as effective. We live on information overload. TV, radio, social media, small talk, meetings, conversations, and even the tickers on the bottom of our news shows bombard us with more information. That’s a lot of noise!
Why We Need to Reduce Our Information Diet.
Having a high information diet can fill up so much space that it drowns out our own voice. Yet it’s our voice that’s precisely what’s needed for our work. Our voice is our value.
If we don’t plan time to unplug, we just increase our information without doing anything with it. Case in point: it’s so much easier to read a book than write a blog post about what I’ve read. But sharing about what I’ve read adds more value to others. If I don’t take that extra step to write, it’s like eating pasta to fuel up for a marathon that I never end up running. I just get fat.
3 Simple Recommendations:
1. Take inventory of your information diet. Like my actual diet, you might find your information diet is repulsive. It just might give you the impetus to change.
Each day, I read hundreds of emails, read what seems like a thousand Tweets and Facebook posts, and read over ten thousand words from books or blogs. This doesn’t even include the tens of thousands of words that I hear from leaving the television on or podcasts I listen to. I’ve since lowered this intake and become more selective. You can’t control what you see, but you can control who you see it from and when. Muting certain social media accounts or leaving the TV off helps me determine what voices speak to me on a daily basis.
2. Stay 30 feet away from your phone. Recently I heard some outrageous statistic that the vast majority of people are never more than 30 feet away from their phones. That certainly applied to me! It’s borderline insane how physically tethered I am to it.
On my days off or in my downtime, I’ve started leaving my phone as far away as our house will allow, which is about 30 feet from the living room to the bedroom. Being physically apart from my it is a terrifying, yet freeing feeling. “Out of sight, out of mind” certainly applies here, and it’s helped me unplug tremendously.
3. Create a dead zone. Years ago we went to the Turks & Caicos islands for our honeymoon. I call it my happy place. The resort had no internet, so I was forced to unplug. It was a total dead zone. The scenery and absence of information created powerful physical associations. It’s like my senses were heightened. I can still remember the smell of the air, what water felt like (it was crystal clear, warm, and very salty), and the sound of the waves, which on these particular islands are very gentle and soothing. Mentally, I can still pull up those feelings because the associations were so strong.
I don’t live on an island, so I try to find a physical place in our house that is a dead zone. One area is a small nook of our living room where my keyboard is. During a busy stretch of work, I’ll often leave it on and walk over during breaks to play a few notes. That little corner is now strongly associated with solitude and looking out the window.
It will make your productivity better.
I spend the majority of my time crafting various forms of content: ads, blogs, exam prep courses, lectures, and sermons. I need constant intake to stay fresh and inspired, but reducing my info diet has also made my content better. I’m more aware of of what kind of content I create. Am I crafting some decent meals with good value adds for people? Or am I just ramming junk food down their throats in an effort to get heard?
Reduce your info diet this week, even if it includes my blog. The content will still be here when you come back from your dead zone, and you just might be surprised at how much clearer you can think, write, and work.
Question: In what ways can you reduce your information diet this week?
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