A challenge for people who make things is living in a world where everyone else makes things, too. On the Internet, everyone seems to be making something they want you to consider and approve of.
Sometimes, that Internet creation is as simple as a tweet or Facebook post. Like it! Share it! Retweet it! More complex creations, like this blog post, are still easy enough to make and share that there are likely hundreds of new articles you might be asked to read in a week.
If you were to carefully keep up with everything you subscribe to or follow, your mind would never have time to itself. You’d never be able to think your own thoughts. You’d be too busy chewing on the thoughts of other people.
For this reason, I believe constant consumption damages productivity. Designers, architects, artisans, writers, and other creators need time to think through what they are making. Writers need a subject and word flow to clearly communicate. Technology architects need to deeply consider the implications of their designs from multiple angles.
Deep consideration takes contiguous blocks of time. Achieving a flowing state of mind takes uninterrupted time. Thoughts build one on another. The implications of an idea and impact on related ideas need opportunity to find one another. Only when the mind is able to consider a single topic without other topics being constantly introduced can this happen.
I have been contemplating this as I consider the inputs in my normal routine. At the moment, I’m not allowing myself enough mental space, and my productivity has struggled. This weighs on me as my company is in the process of creating a platform meant for the sole purpose of delivering deep technology content.
A Broken Mirror
How I can create such content if my mind is usually in a broken mirror state, challenged by outside thoughts and ideas all of the time?
I listen to one or more podcasts daily. Most of the podcasts I listen to are heavy, requiring focus. I take in some amount of social media. I am a member of 17 Slack groups that I am aware of. I do not keep up with most of them, but Slack is an input I contend with. I am an avid reader, lately reading at least 3 hours a day. I also have meetings, phone calls, my inbox, etc. that are inputs I need to process.
If I prioritize inputs, I do not have any space left to think my own thoughts. And yet, I need space. I need silence. And I need that space and silence in large enough blocks of time that I can create effectively. That I can be productive.
In short, I need to spend less time taking in what everyone else is making. On days when I leave space to ponder my own projects, they progress. On days when I fill my brain with constant inputs, I do not.