Creating Space in a Sea of Distraction
Our world is assaulting our senses.
We see around 5,000 ads every day. Every day?! That's crazy! (And that’s according to a study done in 2007.)
We're constantly attached to our smartphones. Afraid we'll miss out on a text/tweet/post and feel left out. FOMO. It's a real thing. Ten out of ten people suffer from it (probably).
The amount of input hitting our eyeballs and brains is staggering.
Now, compare that with your output. What are you producing? Are you putting out your best work? Or are you constantly distracted, switching contexts every five minutes and giving five percent of your attention in 20 different directions?
I am not about obsessing over output. Much of society is still too obsessed with output. Especially with material goods, units solds, and on and on.
However, I am for assessing the quality of our output.
The problem I see is, we're incredibly out of balance. And not only that, we're totally missing something from our daily "time" diet.
Our input is overshadowing our output and we're missing a key component that keeps things in check.
The Goldilocks Rule: Get It Just Right
As a former sound engineer (and current musician), the mechanics of getting an audio signal from an input source (like a guitar), to a sound console, and emitting that sound through a loudspeaker is quite simple. (Okay, not that simple...but simple enough.)
Your input source (i.e. guitar) has to have the right volume. If it's too low, the sound console won't pick up a good signal. If the guitar volume is too high, the signal will be distorted at the console and the output to the loudspeaker will not be pleasant.
If the input isn't at the right level, the output is effected.
Too little input = not enough signal.
Too much input = the signal is distorted.
This principle should be applied to our lives.
We're constantly consuming information and entertainment. Every ad, screen, movie, show, and game is trying to sell you something. Or at the very least, tell you something.
Not all content is created equal. Please don't mindlessly consume what's right in front of you. If you do that, you'll be left starved for more...like eating a can of Pringles. There's no real nutrients in Pringles, and you can eat a whole can and still be hungry. (But once you pop, you just can't! ...okay, I'll stop.)
It's the same with content, information, and entertainment. They are not all created equal. I often question whether or not the internet needs another blog (like mine). And truthfully, it doesn't. You don't need to read this. And you shouldn't if it's not benefitting your life in some way.
You should measure the quality of your input. Let's go back to the guitar example.
Quality Over Quantity
Let's say someone plugs in a Fender Squire worth a few hundred dollars, and another guitar player plugs in their $3,000 Duesenberg (my electric player friends get this). Will those guitars sound the same? HECK no. The Squire is a beginner's electric guitar. The Duesenberg is handcrafted in Germany with high-end electronics. They are both electric guitars but they are NOT the same thing.
In the same way, evaluate your input sources. Are you devouring every weird news story you see in your Facebook feed? STAHP. Please.
Thoughtfully make a choice as to what you want to put in your mind. Because your inputs affect your output.
The other piece of the puzzle that we haven't talked about yet is margin. The space in between the space we fill.
"Margin? What's that?" Exactly. And that's the problem.
The Space Between
We're not making space for our brains to digest and process all the information and memories we've added to it. I heard recently that when we're not doing anything (and I mean anything, like moving, thinking, reading, etc.), our brain is only 5% less active. So if 100% active is us working hard on a project, 95% is us sitting still with a quiet mind. Isn't that crazy?
Your brain is still hard at work even when you don't think you're doing anything. And that space is extremely important.
We must create margin in our day. Our brains need it. It's the space where our brain is organizing and bringing to the surface the things you need. It's where our creativity gets a bolt of inspiration. It's where new ideas come to the surface.
So do yourself a favor: schedule 30 minutes of margin into your day. Critique your inputs. Assess your ouput. We'll all be better for it.