The Problem With Inspiration


As my little illustration attempts to explain is that we should try to minimize the time we search for inspiration and maximize your heads down time. The thing is its really easy to get trapped searching for answers and hoping to be inspired to do work.  I’ve written about this before — the consumption whore problem.

Of course you will want to oscillate between the two and consuming information is really important, but turns out you find the answer you are searching for often enough by just doing the work. You really don’t need much time to be inspired.

Merlin Mann has a great video where he explains this problem in great detail, which I found insightful and entertaining.  To Merlin the reason why we are always looking for information, answers and inspiration is because we don’t know who we are.

We need someone to tell us what to do next. And we all know there are plenty of people/companies/entities out there that are more than willing to tell us what is wrong with us.

Watch the video, read the post.

How to Actively Consume Information

I’m passionate about being an active consumer of information (not being a consumption whore). I think if you are reading something it should provide some value: entertainment or ways to implement the information in your own life. If you aren’t reading for entertainment purposes, you should be trying to take the information and figure out how to apply the insights into your personal circumstances. This also goes for conversations we have with other people. There’s always talk of doing this or that. But nobody really takes any action.

In my experience we as a society are really bad at applying information to our own lives in an actionable way. Maybe we haven’t built up such muscles. I’m not really sure. But I’m here to help.

Ask The Right Questions

At the most basic level it’s important to read within the context of your own life and goals. Keep asking yourself, “how can this help me?” This is obvious but needs to be pointed out.  If you are in a conversation and somebody brings up an idea, ask them what are the next steps you need to take to implement the idea.

Have The Right Tools

The second thing to do is keep a notebook or something to capture ideas and notes with as you read. Most of us grossly overestimate our ability to remember things. Don’t trust yourself to retain anything, keep everything outside of your head. If you have an idea, write it down (or email/text yourself, write it in a text app)!

How to Write Good Reminders

The next step is to write your ideas in an actionable way. This means using verbs! For example, say I’m reading “Rework“and come across some information I’d like to apply to my job or business. Write the note like this:

Brainstorm ways [Verb] to create by-products our company makes
Set up [Verb] meeting with [decision maker] about how to reduce meetings

Frequently the note will be about brainstorming something further. It’s okay if you are not sure how to “create by-products” or “reduce meetings,” the point is to start taking actions based on the ideas and information you’ve read.

Now that you have written down your new actions, the next and most important step is to make sure that they get into your organization system. Whether you are a GTD person and have next actions lists (then you probably don’t need to be wasting your time reading this), or just have one big list of “to-dos,” make sure you get this information you’ve captured into a system you review regularly and that influences your day-to-day actions and priorities.

Photo Credit

Manifesto: The Way I Write

After blogging for the past two months or so I have realized that I need to document my intentions for this blog and my philosophy as a blogger.   Much of what I wrote about this past few months stemmed from my personal blogging philosophy.   The purpose of this Manifesto is to crystallize that philosophy and be my path for future posts.   Where as my “about this blog” page describes what I will write about, this Manifesto describes how I will write.

Consider this as the Manifesto’s thesis: The blogsphere has enough noise and is way too loud; I don’t want to add to that noise; I want to produce quality content that is useful, well thought out, and has depth and heart. Continue reading

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