Last week, for the first time in my life, I went on a diet. And, to my surprise, I loved it. It was only a week long, but as soon as it was over I started to miss it. In fact, I think I may go back.
No, I didn’t drink green juice for a week straight (although I’ve heard that can be exhilarating). There was no carb or calorie counting involved.
Instead, I went on an Information Diet.
Last month here on SG, I talked about having the unplugging bug, about wanting to dial down my information input and output. Many of you pumped your fists in the air and said, “Me, too!” This post is for you. We’re taking it from the philosophical to the practical, baby.
Here’s how I did it. For one week, I…
…checked email only twice a day, at predetermined times (at lunch and just before dinner).
…only looked at websites if I was going to immediately act on the information I was looking for. This means yes to checking movie times on date night, and no to aimless blog reading.
…read books, but only an hour or so of fiction before bed. This means yes to trashy novels (yay!), and no to that stack of business books or newspapers. Seriously!
…watched a little TV, but only an hour or less per day of pure entertainment. This means no news, unless it’s the Daily Show!
…unplugged from social media. No status updates. No Instagram (pictures are information, too)! No blog reading on my lunch break. No 140 character bytes of info coming or going.
…unplugged my ears, too. No podcasts or TED talks while I worked. But as much music as I wanted, of course.
Note: I modeled my Information Diet after the one found in The 4-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss, which I highly recommend.
I’ll admit, there were a few minor deviations. I chose to read the Sunday paper, mainly light stuff, because that is a leisurely weekly ritual I hold dear. And I read fiction in the mornings, too. At first, holding to this diet was hard – waiting to read Danielle Laporte’s Fire Starter Sessions, letting my blog reader fill with unread posts, and not posting a single cute thing my son did to Instagram – ouch!
It amazed me to discover just how much information I took in on a daily basis that I did not need, yet had grown to depend on in order to feel smart or productive.
It amazed me to discover how compulsively I filled small moments with that information. Quiet times with my son, my lunch break, early mornings and just before bed.
But as the week went on, I felt the cleanse. A colonic for the brain. I felt vast spaces in my mind begin to open, fertile ground for fresh ideas, a deeper sense of calm and satisfaction. I began to feel more present with those around me as I stopped poking icons on my phone or sticking my nose in a business mag. I am there for the things and people right in front of me.
Here’s my creative challenge to you: Make more space in your mind for the important things by embarking on an Information Diet.
I’ve laid out some simple guidelines above to get you started. In essence, the diet is just this: immediately actionable information only, a little pleasure reading, and little pleasure TV. Try it. Stay with it. Start tomorrow, and then go for six days after that. I’d love to hear about your experience here!
A week really is enough to experience some cleansing. And hey, all that information will still be waiting…you just might not be interested anymore.