This is day 9 of My 4 Hour Work Week Journey. Please make sure you read the rest of the articles that came before this one to understand where I am in the journey. Click here to buy a copy of the 4 hour work week and go on the journey with me.
Probably one of the most controversial ideas in the 4 hour work week book. Tim begins by laying it all out (you’ll probably want to read the justification first, because the idea in and of itself will look totally crazy). I paraphrase:
I never watch the news and have never bought a newspaper in five years, except by accident.
The Logic Behind the Madness
Tim spends a lot of the chapter entitled Low Information Diet going into his reasons behind doing this. I will highlight a couple of them below:
1) Lifestyle design is about input: Whenever we take time to consume – input – information, we are taking our energy and focus away from the most important element of all taking action. While doing all this it’s important to keep in mind:
2) Most of the information we take in is: time-consuming, negative, irrelevant to our goals and/or out of our influence. He then challenges us to pause and reflect on most of the information we most recently consumed and see whether or not this is true.
3) Tim proposes that instead of always consuming information “just in case” something happens, let’s begin to take action and pause to consume information when we run into a problem or a challenge and need information to solve it.
My Take on the Matter
I tried writing a few paragraphs talking about my thoughts on this chapter, but I realized that it would probably be best for me to respond to whatever problems you guys may have with the statements above (I know some of you do).
In Case You Think I or Tim’s Ideas are Madness
So if you think the ideas above are full of bollocks or that I am a cheesecake head (creative metaphors today) for believing in his ideas, let me know by leaving a comment below and let’s get a dialogue going on the low information diet.
I think I will only leave you with 3 questions and a story to reflect on.
Reflect on the news you most recently consumed:
1) How much of it did you immediately take consistent action on to the point that you influenced what was being reported?
2) How much of what you consume on a day to day basis is actually relevant to your goals in life?
3) Do you find yourself engaging in and finding more pleasure in being smart and having intelligent conversations and thoughts than you do taking action and potentially failing?
I was once talking to someone who was watching the news around the time a mine exploded in China killing about 50,000 people. I was curious:
Now that you have spent 20 minutes sitting there watching that, what are you going to do?
But you sit there everyday and consume news media, surely you must act on this?
No, it’s just good to know.
You and I don’t help anyone by just knowing things and sitting in the house mentally masturbating ( sorry for the strong language but this is what we do a lot of the time), philosophizing and engaging in endless discussions.
We help people by taking action. Period!
Anyway, to the questions and actions section.
Questions and Actions: Low Information Diet
1) Go on a complete media fast: I don’t consume the news…..EVER!
Yes, very sad but very true. In spite of this, I am almost always up to date in the news.
Because I spend so much time online, and quite some time offline chatting with folks who constantly educate themselves, I know that for example in my country, Kenya:
i) A hotel called the Grand Regency was sold to Libyans for what many consider a low price
ii) That the Kenyan Finance minister has not only resigned because of the preceding event.
One of the most watched videos in Youtube history
Quite a Challenge
The challenging bit is: no web surfing unless its necessary to completing the task.
Now that will be hard.
Without consuming Youtube, blogs, videos and other Internet material, that leaves a HUUUGGGE vaccum in my day. So I guess I have now found the time to do those two high impact tasks a day.
Future Guiding Principles
2) Will I use this information for anything important and/or immediate? If the answer is NO, on both accounts, axe the information immediately: As a general principle:
Information is only as useful as your ability to take action and produce a result using it.
I already started doing this and am doing it more and more e.g. not listening to CDs on emotional health and relationships when I should be learning more about how blog content creation and monetization works. I think as a general tip, eliminate everything in your world (that you can) that doesn’t have to do with your goal at hand.
The ability to focus on one thing at a time and eliminate all input that doesn’t assist in that endevour tends to result in a much higher quality of work even when you put in a mediocre effort.
3) Practice the art of non-finishing: If the article isn’t useful, put it down. If the movie isn’t pulling your attention, entertaining or educating you, walk out. More isn’t better. More important, useful things are. Practice letting go, even half way of that which is ineffective, unimportant or useless.