How often do you overindulge? Walking away glassy-eyed, your senses dulled, having feelings of loneliness, maybe even a bit depressed?
I’m not talking about food here – I’m talking about over-consuming information.
I know I’ve been feeling the effects, especially over the past year. Too much consumption and too little creation. Podcasts, YouTube, social media, the news, incoming emails and text messages. We take in so much stimuli every day, all day long. Some days it feels like all I do is switch from one app to another. It can appear at times as though I’m being quite productive but, in truth, I get nowhere. At the end of the day I’m generally no closer to an answer, a decision, completing a goal or being the person I want to be than I was when I woke up.
When I’ve been looking at my device for too long I feel stuck, almost paralyzed to take action. It’s as if all my energy has been drained by the scroll. If I am researching something to buy or something to do I find myself exhausted by all the options, I get absolute flummoxed by all the conflicting reviews, I freeze up thinking; “what if I make the wrong choice?” If I’ve fallen down the rabbit hole of social media then just forget about it. I may have started with a quick glance at my friend’s updates but pretty soon I find myself looking at feeds of complete strangers, or dogs (ok, it’s not ALL bad).
Think about this quote from Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way:
“When a creative artist is fatigued it is often from too much inflow, not too much outflow”
The days I feel most alive is when I’m creating something – anything really. I may be creating a photo or a t-shirt design or a new blog post (HELLO!) or even a new organization plan for the kitchen cabinets, it really doesn’t matter what it is, it is simply the act of taking an idea from a thought to a result and FINISHING IT that is so deeply fulfilling and soul recharging.
The more you create the more you will want to create, but the cautionary tale lies in the inverse. The more you become an information consumer the less you will want to create. Learning something is not the same as doing something. Looking at photos of other people’s fabulous cake decorating skills does not make you a prize baker. Watching others travel videos or makeup tutorials or dance routines on Reels (CRINGE btw) actually has zero upside to your own life but it comes with tons of potential downsides:
My first recommendation is to start your day with a goal to create something from start to finish. It could be as simple as creating a delicious and healthy breakfast for yourself that you enjoy without distraction or maybe writing in your journal.
My next recommendation is to use a timer – for everything. Set a timer to keep you focused and on-task. If you want to give yourself a bit of a break and watch a video on YouTube then set your time and respect the commitment you made to yourself. When that timer goes off you get up and get back into action in your own life. We have our kids use a timer for their TV and IPOD time. If they didn’t use a physical timer they would get sucked into the vortex of make-believe for hours. Adults are the same way.
And now that I’ve created this blog post I can happily turn off my timer (7 minutes early by the way) and move on to creating a delicious pesto for tonight’s dinner.
Please let me know what you are creating in your own life. I’d love to be a part of it.