What do you put in your mind?

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This is my weekly installment of “writing about writing,” in which I scan the world to find websites, books and articles to help other writers. Today I address the question, ‘what do you put in your mind?’

Do you know the expression, ‘garbage in, garbage out’? This catchy phrase reminds all of us that incorrect or poor quality input will always produce faulty output.

Today, as we struggle to cope with the ravages of the novel coronavirus, I suspect that many of us are reading far too much news and not consuming nearly enough comforting or amusing reading.

I reflected on this reality when I read Chris Bailey’s excellent blog post, “What information to put into your mind.” 

Chris argues that all the information we consume can be divided into three categories:

  • useful information,
  • balanced information, and
  • entertaining information.

To think smarter, and more clearly, he says it’s important to be super aware of the category in which we’re spending most of our time.

And he also offers the following tips:

  • Get things to bid for your attention. See the descriptions of audiobooks, podcasts, and TV shows as pitches for your time and attention. Are they worth the time you’ll put into them?
  • Think of a few valuable things to add to what you consume. What’s a skill you haven’t developed in a while? What’s a topic you’ve always been curious about? Could you learn about it instead of scrolling through your social media feeds?
  • Notice what you consume on autopilot mode, without thinking. This is usually when we consume the least valuable information.
  • Consume what you care about, that few other people do. As a general rule, it’s worth building upon knowledge and skills that you uniquely care about.
  • Veg out intentionally. The next time you sit down to watch a bunch of episodes of your favorite Netflix show—do so intentionally. Plan out how many episodes of the show you’ll watch, what you’ll eat when you do, who you’ll invite over to watch, and so on. You won’t just have a better time, you’ll also feel less guilty about it.

Chris is an expert on productivity, so if you’re battling productivity issues, read his post or listen to his podcast, both of which can be found here.

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