What's the first thing you do when you get to your computer in the morning? Check your favourite intertainment? Our pal Clay Johnson discusses why this is the last thing you should do.
I make sure to start every day as a producer, not a consumer.
When you get up, you may start with a good routine like showering and eating, but as soon as you find yourself with some free time you probably get that urge to check Reddit, open that game you were playing, see what you're missing on Facebook, etc.
Put all of this off until "later". Start your first free moments of the day with thoughts of what you really want to do; those long-term things you're working on, or even the basic stuff you need to do today, like cooking, getting ready for exercise, etc.
The production of information is critical to a healthy information diet. It's the thing that makes it so that your information consumption has purpose. I cannot think of more important advice to give anyone: start your day with a producer mindset, not a consumer mindset. If you begin your day checking the news, checking your email and checking your notifications, you've launched yourself into a day of grazing a mindless consumption.
Starting your day as a producer means that your information consumption has meaning: the rest of the day means consuming information that is relevant to what it is that you're producing. Waking up as a producer frames the rest of your habits. You're not mindlessly grazing on everyone's facebook's statuses. You're out getting what it is you need to get in order to produce. Waking up as a producer is procrastination insurance.
But there's something else that being a producer does: it gives you more clarity about what it is that you think. Having gone through a gauntlet of about 50 press interviews now for The Information Diet — after talking about it and writing about it so much, I'd actually write a much better book. It's because that production has helped me discover even more nuance to my own thought. It makes sense: who knows more about the way government works: the consumer of information about it, the watchers of MSNBC and Fox — or the producers, the people in the trenches: lobbyists, activists and campaign staffers. Who knows more about football: the armchair quarterbacks or the players?
The thing that all the blog posts on the sidebar of InformationDiet.com have in common? They were all written before 10am. The best parts of my book were written before 10am. The days where my word count reached into the 3000s? They were the days that I started writing right when I got out of bed, and then had breakfast. Not the other way around.
Some tactical advice: wake up and start producing. Before you grab breakfast, before you head to the gym, before you head to your email, write 500 words about something. Doesn't matter what. Just sit down, focus and write for that first hour that you're up. It'll change the rest of your day.
500 Words before 8am [The Information Diet]
Author Clay Johnson believes that, much like junk food leads to obesity and health problems, junk information is killing our productivity, efficiency, and worse, feeding ignorance. His new book, The Information Diet, discusses this problem in depth. He was formerly the director of Sunlight Labs at the Sunlight Foundation and founder of Blue State Digital — the technology company behind Barack Obama's website.