In our crazy world of information overload, it’s not just our favourite box sets that we’re bingeing on. There’s Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Medium, and that’s before you open your inbox to a daily serving of news, business, politics or retail briefings. (Yes, I just called ASOS’s spam “retail briefings” to make them sound relevant and important. You’re welcome.)
My relationship with information is very similar to my relationship with sugar. Like sugar, information can be both a delicious escape and a slippery slope.
Example: If I have a muffin with my morning coffee, for the rest of the day I make fewer healthy food choices because I’ve started the day with a sweet treat. Likewise, if I start the day with certain types of information I feel stodgy and sluggish, and that can lead to some crummy decision making.
For me, it’s Facebook, though for you it may be different. In the morning I’m most susceptible to comparing myself to others, and will easily be sucked into a rabbit hole of others’ opinions. Before I know it, I’m reading things I didn’t ask to hear or political issues I didn’t choose to spend time thinking about, and my mind is jumping right in to get involved.
Replace the information muffin with an information bircher muesli and you’re off to a better start.
My information muesli is a couple of email subscriptions that tell me all I need to know about the news, so I don’t read the news on sites that want me to click through eight other stories about vaguely related and sometimes interesting things that are definitely Not The News.
Here are my tips for a healthy information diet:
1) Everything in moderation. We all need a feast now and again – enjoy that delicious lunch hour or coffee break where you can lose yourself hopping between whatever you find most tasty. For me, it’s The Pool, or a long read from one of my favourite newspapers or magazines.
2) Nudge yourself healthy. What’s one small thing you can change that will get you on a better track? It could be something as simple as signing up to one email digest that gives you all you need in one bite rather than using a news website. See my #weeklynudge tweets for inspiration – there have been a few on this topic because it has been such a gamechanger for me.
3) Control what you can and be mindful of what you can’t. Unsubscribe and unfollow. Keep those kitchen cupboards in order! You can keep biscuits in the house or you can just buy them on days when you’re choosing to eat biscuits. Information is just the same.
If food and drink are our body’s fuel, information and connection with our selves and others are our mind’s nutrition. Our information intake can signal to us about our wellbeing.
Just like a sure sign of a cold is that we are ready for seconds of everything come teatime, if you’re spending a lot of time browsing the web, reading every ‘reply all’ email that hits your inbox in forensic detail, or flicking through social media, chances are you need a break, or there’s something niggling away at the back of your mind.
Keep being mindful, never stop being curious, and eat well!
Claire Eadington geeks out on workflow management, performance and wellbeing. Claire’s TEDx talk about barriers to performance for exceptional women kicked off the 2017 TEDxWhitehallWomen event in London.
Claire writes a weekly blog, Self Curious, on NPW’s website.
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