Until recently, I looked down on people who listened to music while commuting.
What a waste of time. Why not make the most of this downtime by getting fresh news and opinions. Don’t you want to be the most informed person in the room? It’s enticing, but no thanks. As I’ve come to realize, such input gets you nowhere.
Yes, you guessed it. I’m a new convert of the low information diet. Here’s why.
Whenever you commute or operate on autopilot, your brain is on one of the three following modes. You either focus on what is in your head (deep thinking), on your environment (info receiving), or have no focus at all (mind wandering).
There’s no way you can become a peak learner if you don’t develop your thinking power, and that means making more room for the first mode.
No doubt, the acquisition of new information is crucial. As Benjamin Bloom showed, higher-order thinking skills feed on it. But a peak learner must filter and limit incoming information.
Tim Ferris nailed it when he said that a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention. And guess what? Attention is the fuel of deep, clear and creative thinking. So any new information that doesn’t make you think should be sorted out as entertainment.
Finally, our third mode of thinking, mind wandering, shouldn’t be dismissed as totally worthless. For starters, it’s our brain’s default mode of operation (we typically spend almost half our time there). But more importantly, this mode is highly conducive to creative insights, as it fosters idea associations.
During downtimes, try to reduce information input and daydreaming, and engage in effective thinking (i.e. leading to an outcome), such as problem solving, problem finding and planning (for your next blog post for instance).
So next time you’re driving, do like me. Tune in to music (or turn off all noise) and start thinking.