Whew. It has been a long day pushing on a big project and now it is time to sit back, grab a beverage and turn on the television. Sound familiar? After making decisions all day and using up mental energy, it is not unusual to seek respite in mindless activity. Many of your co-workers are doing the exact same thing. High producers, however, are not. Highly successful people use their downtime to invest in future activity – to refuel both body and mind.
Mental agility is a key ingredient in the workplace. It directly impacts both your creativity and your productivity. If your mind isn’t sharp, you won’t be able to navigate decisions, and your tasks will take more time – with less than stellar results. Highly successful people understand this and make the investment in mental agility.
The familiar adage ‘garbage in, garbage out’ helps us understand the impact of food on our physical health. This adage applies to your brain as well as your body. Roaming social media without purpose and mindlessly clicking the remote is the mental equivalent of junk food. Filling your head with these useless ‘snack’ bites will not help move you forward.
Live less by habit and more by intent.
There isn’t anything inherently wrong about watching television or spending time with social media. The issue is mindlessly clicking and roaming without purpose. Instead, turn these same activities into something that is both relaxing and refreshing. Step up your thought game: be deliberate about what you mentally consume.
Curate your content.
Social media algorithms reward interactive behavior. When you like, click, or share your behavior becomes part of the experience. Therefore, you will receive more of the type of content you interact with. Click on silly cat videos? You will see more silly cat videos. Instead, click on a Fast Company article on entrepreneurship. You will receive similar content.
Television offers similar interactivity. Previously, all television content was predetermined for us by the three major networks. Today, the power of television programming is directly in your hands. Between cable, network, internet, YouTube, and original programming you have an abundance of viewing options to select from.
Magazines, newspapers and other publications have also evolved. Applications such as Flipboard and Texture allow you to craft a personalized news experience right on your iPad.
The important note is that regardless of platform, you are in control of the content you consume. This week I challenge you to create a new habit of being deliberate about your media choices. Curate your content. Here are a five content suggestions to get you started.
1. Something that teaches you.
Take time to cross-train your brain. When you learn something completely different it creates new pathways in the brain. These new pathways can be the difference in creative problem-solving in your work environment. In addition, a regular practice of learning helps keeps you relevant in the marketplace.
Try: Lynda.com or SkillShare
2. Something that challenges you.
It is easy to get into routines and comfort zones. Instead of Candy Crush, expand your gaming routine into brain training. Games and activities that involve multiple tasks or require interaction and organization may protect your brain against cognitive decline. Instead of a selfie, see your world through a different lens by participating in a Facebook photo challenge.
Happiness inspires productivity. – Shawn Achor
3. Something that inspires you.
According to an article in the Harvard Business Review, consuming negative news can make you less effective at work. Conversely, positivity research shows a direct correlation to improvements in productivity, positivity, and . . . income. Include solution-focused news sources in your feed.
Try: GoodThink or Upworthy
4. Something that provides a different perspective.
Groupthink can prevent us from seeing potential solutions at work, at home, and in our communities. We tend toward information sources that align with our own ideas. This can lead to a thinking rut. Expand your perspective and understanding by following a different, even opposite, perspective. For example, follow your presidential pick and also follow the opposing political candidate.
Try: A TED Talk
5. Something that informs you.
Take a few minutes to skim top headlines and be aware of what is going on in the world. Take a few more minutes to check top news in your field. Now you are ready for pre-meeting small talk or cocktail chatter.
Try: The Skimm or BBC News
That’s it! Five easy switches to make this week to be deliberate about the content you consume.