July Experiment: Low Information Diet
I have an addiction: I’m interested in about a million topics, and I could spend all day just reading about new technology, philosophical ideas, business, even history. New ideas are like crack to me. It’s a sickness.
When the kids are in bed and the wife flips on the TV, I dive into a book or — more and more frequently — I scroll through headlines in my favorite RSS reader (Feedly). If I have a few minutes to kill and I can’t be productive, it’s Feedly to the rescue again.
Basically I just point a firehose of information at myself, and continuously find interesting ideas to play with.
Why is This a Problem?
On the surface it’s pretty harmless… but if I’m to be completely honest most of what I read — while interesting — is completely un-actionable. I’m entertaining myself, but not improving, not building, not achieving. And I want more from life than to be entertained.
A Book to the Rescue!
I was knocked upside the head about this while (re)reading The 4-Hour Workweek. If you’ve never checked it out I guarantee it is completely worth your time… Tim shares ideas that can actually make your life more fulfilling — even if you have no interest in the lifestyle he preaches.
Here’s a gem from the book:
“Ninety-nine percent of the people in the world are convinced that they are incapable of achieving great things, so they aim for the mediocre. The level of competition is thus fiercest for “realistic” goals, paradoxically making them the most time- and energy-consuming. It is easier to raise $1,000,000 than it is $100,000.”
I can attest to the fundraising from personal experience. It also feels pretty good to think that aiming high is not crazy, in fact it may be the only sane thing to do!
You have perhaps 16,000 days Left…
One of the basic tenets of Tim Ferriss’s work system is to optimize everything for time, so that you can spend your days doing whatever moves you. It’s the 80/20 rule applied more ruthlessly than you dared in the past… but dammit he makes some good points.
Time. It’s the one thing you can’t make more of.
With so many things on my must-do list (including building a new business — more on that soon), there are just more awesome things to do than skimming the headlines of what others are doing in the world.
So here’s the experiment for the rest of July (I just decided this today):
- Feedly is not to be opened. Period.
- Unsubscribed from the ~10 emails I get regularly.
- Stack of magazines: recycled.
- Newspaper: just the Sunday crossword and the comics.
- I already don’t watch TV news, so that’s easy.
- Facebook, Twitter, etc: No browsing (I pretty much don’t, already).
- Long-form reading is still OK. (Carefully selected books, of course!)
- Shift RSS time over to making progress on building a business and writing more.
- See if my head feels any clearer, if my daughter notices me being less distracted, and if I miss the firehose.
- After a month off, I expect to reconnect with a much more curated list of information sources.
While I love reading and learning, I suspect that at times I use this information firehose as an escape, and as an excuse to avoid “real work”. Thanks Tim for reminding me that you can build whatever life you want, but it won’t happen if you don’t take action.
Do you have the same reading addiction? Why not join me in a Low-Information July!
Here’s that book again… if you’re ready to work on your own dream life you should give it a read.
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