Marketers describe us as consumers, and we are. We are all creatures of consumption, from what we eat and drink, to the appointments we fill ourselves with, and the information we digest. And when it comes to the things we ingest, either physically, mentally, spiritually, we need to be vigilant about what enters our bodies.
Of course words of wisdom like this are easily passed over as too basic or trivial to even worry about. We all know that excessive alcohol consumption is bad for our health, or smoking carries serious long term risks. And these are all true! But the pitfalls of our pervasive over consumption goes far beyond the studies mentioned on the 6 o’clock news.
Of the list of things that we consume, food and drink certainly picks up the lion’s share of the blame tab. Every week a new study is released discussing the negative elements of too much sugar, too many carbs, fats, acids, the list goes on. These studies can be summed up rather succinctly by saying: Too much of anything is bad for you. But aside from the food plate (formerly our well known food pyramid), what other areas of consumption should we be wary of?
The poisons we pick fall into two categories; time, and information.
The alarm clock buzzes, we reach over and hit the snooze button. Wait, this isn’t the early 2000’s anymore. Our snooze button is actually a finger slide on our touchscreen. A few minutes later, the electronic rooster is at it again. Grumbling, we roll over and open our eyes, picking up that phone and sliding the screen up. First thing, let’s check social media, and probably our inbox to see what happened in the overnight hours. Great, calendar invites for today.
Within 15 minutes of waking up, we already see 4 meeting requests, that’s half our day gone in meetings that we probably shouldn’t even be in. One of the most venomous poisons that we willingly consume is these irrelevant demands on our time. And not that we aren’t important, but a 4 line email or a 5 minute phone call would likely straighten out our issues without the need for an hour long meeting.
The consumption of time is incredibly poisonous for two reasons. First, it kills our productivity. As we run from meeting to meeting, we hardly have time to sit down and focus on our important tasks of the day/week/year. And secondly, consuming our time by running around being busy feels good. We love the feeling that we are important, that someone needs us, and by stepping in to be their hero, we forget about our own quest.
Over-consumption of time is a devastating poison to swallow. And this problem is only going to get worse as we become increasingly connected.
It’s Time We Took Back Our Time.
So what can we do to take this time back? The best strategy is to plan out your day the night before. Put on your calendar non-negotiable time to work on your priorities, on the tasks that are most important to your goals. Taking back your time before someone else tries to will vastly improve your success as you strive for greater and more abundant achievements.
Perhaps the most pervasive of all poisons is actually information. Think back to that electronic rooster crowing. As we load up our calendars with irrelevant meetings, what else do we consume? Social media captions of celebrities, news feeds full of stories of the latest tragedies around the world, and all sorts of horrific incidents. The same is portrayed on breakfast TV and 6 pm news. Sensationalist headlines all striving to out-do one another by bringing us the most corrupt and terrifying stories. Once we start down that slide of human suffering and misery, it becomes almost impossible to then take on the day’s challenges with an open, positive mindset.
“It doesn’t matter where you get the bad stuff, it will still do it’s damage.” ~ Jim Rohn
As we strive for achievement, we need to be conscious that negative stories and news will fill us with negative energy. This energy is not optimal for producing creative solutions to problems. In information, as much if not more than anywhere else, do we need to pick our poison well.
What Poison Should We Take?
As we each pursue different interests, and have different life experiences, the level and content of information we need differs greatly. If you have small children, you’d be well off to know about unsafe roads in your neighbourhood. Or the happenings overseas where a family member is vacationing. Or the government regulations that might affect your business. But none of us needs to consume all of the information we currently do. If you aren’t an aspiring Hollywood actress, knowing the habits and routines of the Kardashians is probably not helpful for our growth.
We can’t steer clear of all negativity. There will certainly be days were we eat too much, or have one too many drinks. And for almost all of us, we can’t reasonably control our entire calendar. But we do need to exercise some careful planning in all of these areas. Pick your poison. Choose what you want to consume, and what you don’t. Making these choices before they are made for you will vastly improve your rate and level of success.
There are two things we can do this week to start picking our poison:
- Block off an hour each day to work exclusively on your priorities. This is a non-negotiable calendar slot where you focus entirely on your goals.
- Start unsubscribing from email threads that don’t serve you any more. Start small, with only a couple this week. Do you miss getting the emails? Do you even notice not getting them?