Treat The Information You Consume Like the Food you Put into Your Body

Photo Credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/23837066@N07/24523918412/">Daniele Falciola</a> via <a href=”http://compfight.com">Compfight</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/">cc</a>

Imagine if you walked into 7 Eleven and quite literally had one of everything until you couldn’t stomach any more.

  • You would feel like shit
  • You would eventually look like shit
  • You would get really sick

We understand the implications of this kind of behavior when it comes to our physical diet. But when it comes to our mental diet, we’re not nearly as mindful of our consumption habits. We mindlessly binge on digital junk food.

  • We watch the news and read tabloids
  • We subscribe to EVERY newsletter, blog and podcast imaginable
  • We click on every shiny thing that catches our attention

Even in an effort to be deliberate about the information we put int our brain, we become bloated. However, there’s a great deal of value to a low information diet.

How Do we Decide What to Include and What to Eliminate?

According to Cal Newport one thing that causes information overload is what he refers to as the “any-benefit” mindset. In other words, if the information we consume or the apps we download offer any benefit at all, we thin they’re worthwhile. This isn’t a particularly sophisticated way of doing things. In my conversation with him Cal posed a question that really changed the way I thought about the information I consume and the apps I download:

Is this one of the small number of things that adds a significant amount of value to my life?

A few weeks ago, I deleted Instagram from my phone. I wanted to see much I would miss it. It turns out not very much. Occasionally, when I want to upload a picture that I think is worth sharing, I download the app and reinstall it. When I ran all of the following apps through that filter, I ended up deleting them:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Safari
  • Email

Even though writing 1000 words each morning and publishing on Medium is one of the things that does add a significant amount of value to my life, I don’t even have the Medium app on my phone. If I did, I’d constantly check stats, and that’s far less valuable than sitting down to write.

When you stop consuming so much, you’ll find yourself creating more. As Darius Foroux said, you if you’re reading this, it’s time for you to create something.

Listen to Unmistakable Creative Interview with Cal Newport

Toxic People

Typically we don’t think of our interactions with people as information that we consume, but they are.

  • Michael Gebben is basically the Soup Nazi of being a nice guy (a weird paradox I know). He has a ZERO tolerance policy for trolls. Life is too short to spend your time arguing with assholes on the internet that you’ll probably never meet in person.
  • In his book No BS Wealth Attraction in the New Economy, Dan Kennedy says that toxic people stop the flow of wealth into your life.

Toxic people are sometimes the hardest thing to change about our information diet because they’re either our co-workers or even close friends. Ideally, you want to remove them from your life. What you’ll find when toxic people are no longer part of your life is that it feels like the weight of the world has been removed from your shoulders. But if you can’t get rid of them there are some simple things you can do to reduce their impact on our lives.

  • Noise Cancellation Headphones: This seems ridiculous on the surface. But when you can literally drown out the noise of toxic people in your life, you’ll be amazed at how much this does for you.
  • Strategic Retreats: In her book Broadcasting Happiness, Michelle Gielan says that we can strategically retreat from negative people. Negative people have certain patterns, and if we can be aware of those patterns we can set up our interactions around them to deal with those patterns. For example, if you know someone is always in a bad mood when they come back from lunch, don’t schedule your chat with them right after lunch. Or if you know someone will be annoyed as hell with a sink full of dishes, do the dishes. It’s a preemptive strike that helps you avoid a lengthy battle.
  • Unfollow them: For some strange reason, we assume that just because somebody is on the internet we have to read everything they post and pay attention to everything they do. We seem to forget that there’s such thing as a no asshole rule. You can delete comments or not respond. You can block jackasses on social media. You can mark people’s email’s as spam

Listen to the Unmistakable Creative Interview with Michelle Gielan

The information you put into your brain is just as important as the food you put in your body. As the old saying goes, garbage in garbage out. Choose wisely.

I’m the host and founder of The Unmistakable Creative Podcast. Every Sunday we share the most unmistakable parts of the internet that we have discovered in The Sunday Quiver. Receive our next issue by signing up here