Each day, we all receive countless bits of information, some useful, most not-so-much. Some of it comes in without our seeking it: billboards, radio commercials. Much of it enters our brains because we invite it: we listen to radio news, we watch television, we browse news websites, we read blogs.
I am a voracious reader of blogs and online articles. I am endlessly stimulated by all the ideas, all the conversations, and the free flow of information that may or may not have any effect on me personally.
But I’ve realized that maybe this constant consumption of bite-sized information and ideas actually impedes our own thoughtful creativity rather than stimulating it. It seems the more I read from diverse sources — no matter how much I love it — the less I am able to settle down and focus for extended periods of time on a single thought.
When I first began expanding my blog reading to include numerous, diverse sources on a wide variety of topics, I found it invigorating. I was excited by all I was learning, and it stimulated my creativity. But as I increased the number of different sources I was reading on a regular basis, it seemed to have the opposite effect. My creativity and original thinking dwindled. When I tried to focus, my mind hopped like a jackrabbit between all kinds of disparate thoughts.
Conversely, when I cut out much of the “noise” and spend more of my time in immersive reading (such as in a book), in which I am focusing in a single direction for extended periods of time, I find that my mind is clearer and my creativity sharper.
I’ve come to the conclusion that I need to guard my mind much more intentionally. It saddens me, but I’m cutting down the number of blogs and news sources I expose myself to each day. In addition, I’ve been spending more time driving, walking and hiking in silence rather than with audio input.
As stimulating as it is, I don’t think our brains are wired to function optimally with too many diverse sources of input each day. I believe we need to give our minds “down time” to process what we’ve already taken in; and we need to regularly train our brains to focus in a single direction in order to keep our creativity and deep-thinking capacities in full working order.
How’s your focus and creativity these days? Do you limit input to protect it? What are some ways you act as a gatekeeper for your mind?
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