I know, I know.
You don't need another article telling you how to achieve the perfect body.
But I'm not talking about a food diet.
I'm talking about going on a data diet.
The reason people go on diets is to make their bodies more efficient. Efficiency could mean running a marathon, getting from the couch to the fridge, or even attracting a mate. At their most basic level, diets are for the sake of efficiency.
But have you ever considered putting your mind on a diet?
Think about how much data you take in everyday. Emails. Twitter. News. Weather. Music. Text Messages. Television. And that's just some of the digital data we consume daily. We also take in organic data such as conversations, environments, activities, etc.
Now think about the last time you did nothing. Even for a minute.
We fill our every minute with something. Even our sleep is usually directly preceded and followed by some form of data consumption (we're all guilty of late night social media binges). If the mind is a body, and data is food, we are all mentally obese. That's a problem.
Most of us have experienced the effects of data overload. It's called burnout. It's what you feel after studying for finals for a week straight. It's what you feel the day after you pull an all-nighter to finish a project. You know what that feels like. You don't want to do anything, and you probably couldn't if you tried. You just want to go home and sleep for about seven years.
If this is what data overload does to us, perhaps it's time we consider what everyday data consumption does to our minds. The effects might not be as noticeable, but they exist, and they add up quickly. So here are two steps you can take to avoid the detrimental effects of data overload:
1. Ask: "Is this important or beneficial?"
Before consuming any form of data, ask this question. If the answer is "no", simply skip that activity. Purposefully asking, answering, and acting upon this question can dramatically increase your mind's efficiency, as it will be devoting more energy and attention to fewer things.
2. Take a "timeout" (or ten...)
Make a decision to do nothing for a change. Whether this means taking a technology-free weekend retreat or simply sitting in absolute silence and closing your eyes for one minute, these breaks are important to keep our minds functioning at 100%.
The practice of these two simple steps is a small but necessary step toward meaningful and effective decision making in all areas of your life.
And there's no need to start being mindful tomorrow. Start now! After finishing this sentence, do absolutely nothing for one minute and see how you feel...go!