I’m currently surrounded by over a dozen books and a dozen gadgets and gizmos I’m actively using andor could be using right now.

I’m guessing your environment looks similar to mine unless you’ve become a minimalist and sold or donated away your things.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m neither humble-bragging nor complaining about the things surrounding me, I’m just observing how easy it is to overcrowd our spaces—physical and digital—with todos.

The disease (dis-ease) of our time is TMI—too much information.

News is an obvious one. I’ve read (somewhere) that the human mind wasn’t made to hold a worlds worth of bad news.

Another is the work-related todos (that we often put on ourselves) pile around us. Overcrowded schedules. Pulled in a million directions except for the one you want to be focusing on.

So what are we supposed to do about this?

For starters, we can live by the principle “out of sight out of mind.” If we remove the options around us, we can focus in on the priority in front of us. If you’re reading a book, don’t surround yourself with a hundred other books you want / should be reading.

But generally, if you have a task to do, limit your scope to that task and only that task. Everything else should be removed from your site or reach if possible. We’re not banning things, just simply taking away the option of use for the next 30 minutes or so.

If something is bothering you or weighing on you, remove it from your mind temporarily so you can focus on what’s important.

Another thing we can continuously do is ask ourselves, “Is this helpful or unhelpful?

Does having 100+ browser tabs open at one time helpful or unhelpful with what I’m trying to do right now?

Does checking Facebook every 5 minutes improving my life or making it harder. Moderation and minimal-ization are key.

The problem isn’t necessary TMI, but too much information all at once. If we’re trying to focus on a dozen things we end up focusing on nothing.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1115

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RL: Sensory Overload

“I have a theory about the human mind. A brain is a lot like a computer. It will only take so many facts, and then it will go on overload and blow up.”

Erma Bombeck

“Our brains weren’t designed to handle a world’s worth of news at once.” I’ve heard a variation of this idea from multiple people on the internet. (I want to say one was Naval.)

My guess is this is related to the idea of Dunbar’s number, where we have a limited number of people we can maintain a stable social relationship with at once (around 150+), or why our minds glaze over like a jelly donut when statistical estimates reach numbers we can’t comprehend.

In today’s world, we’re all dealing with a case of TMI—too much information. The crazy thing is we mostly do it to ourselves.

Sure, there’s an endless amount of products, services, and ideas marketed to us. And of course, there’s all the social media platforms we use multiple times a day. Email, can’t forget email. YouTube. News. There’s also the information we hear from our personal environment (family, friends, co-workers, classmates, neighbors, etc.) And that doesn’t even start to include the things we are learning and enjoying—blogs (like this one), podcasts, documentaries, courses, mentors, etc.)

Even just writing that last paragraph is giving me anxiety. No wonder we’re all exhausted and on edge!

There are a few strategies that I’ve found to help me keep the sensory overload monsters at bay.

  1. Ask yourself: Is this enabling me or disabling me?

Is this helping me? Does X Y Z information improve my life? Does this make me more capable of helping others and taking positive steps towards my dreams?

Drop anything that doesn’t.

  1. Clean up your digital life/lives.

Imagine for a moment that you dropped everything. You hit unsubscribe on every follower and newsletter. You cleaned up every digital account you have. You organized every digital file you have. A clean slate. A fresh sheet of paper. By trying to know and focus on everything, you overwhelm yourself into a state of casual knowledge and shallow focus.

  1. Curate for quality and wisdom, over quantity, and time-killers.

Your goal should be to surround yourself with a moderate amount of information that we can use to gain knowledge and skills. Ideas that enable or ideas you can act on. Of course, try not to isolate yourself too much—anyone who’s got their hands (or feet) on bubble wrap knows what happens to bubbles before long—they pop. But don’t drink from the firehose just to be “informed.”

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1085 ☕️

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Closing Threads

“Singleness of purpose is one of the chief essentials for success in life, no matter what may be one’s aim.”

John D. Rockefeller

Whenever I feel overwhelmed, I have a mental/journaling exercise I do where I imagine if I dropped everything on my todo list.

Every task, obligation, book, responsibility, dream, possession, need—I pretend that I lit a match and set all the boats on fire.

Imagine it—you have nothing required of you and your slate is empty.

After picturing it in my mind I’ll begin to feel a weight lifted off of me. We tend to put so much pressure on ourselves. The pressure to perform, the pressure to succeed, the pressure to win. And when we can’t match all of our expectations we pull on even more weight. And it’s not just the work that creates pressure but the added mental weight of our expectations that really buckle our knees.

In fact, how we think about things adds 100x the power to our actions.

Trying to do too much at once is one thing, attempting to do too much while expecting we can do it all adds 100x the weight to our shoulders.

But when you let all the expectations and mental chatter go you will feel free. The weight is gone.

After mentally removing everything from my calendar, I then ask myself two important questions:

What do I actually want to do? (Or put another way, what am I willing to carry?)

And, out of all of my needs and responsibilities, what’s one thing I can focus my efforts on RIGHT NOW that would make me feel better (not overwhelmed) and accomplished?

Overwhelm is solved by not saying yes to everything (especially if you actually want to say no) and by prioritizing and focusing all your efforts on one task and one task only. Yes, your todo list might be a mile long, but that doesn’t matter right now—all that matters is the task at hand.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #944

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One Success

“Most people spend more time and energy going around problems than in trying to solve them.”

Henry Ford

The biggest hurdle to any habit or skill you are learning is an overloaded system. It’s often that we fail because we are trying too hard and too much at once, not because we aren’t trying enough.

Not trying enough is a pitfall that can keep you from starting.

If you ever find yourself never quite being able to get started or find yourself consuming a ton of books, courses, and videos but never putting them in practice, then you have a problem starting. Maybe it’s fear of failure or repeating past mistakes or not living up to your own exceptions of yourself. Whatever the case, put all your strength into taking a step forward, however small. Starting is a physics problem. Things at rest tend to stay at rest. What we need is something that pushes us forward, even just a tiny bit, that gets the ball rolling. Start and build momentum.

It’s often that we fail because we are trying too hard and too much at once, not because we aren’t trying enough.

But if you’re trying but making no headway at all, then you’re likely trying too hard or trying too many things at once. Getting results requires focused energy. You can’t reliably half-*ss success (unreliable success is called luck). We need a strategy that gets us to the end goal 90% of the time and on the right track (or at least somewhere interesting) the other 10%. That starts with limiting your focus.

I can’t tell you how many times I unintentionally derailed myself because I attempted too many things at once. There are only so many things we can do at once (…I’m mostly in permanent denial about this). Even if I had all the energy and money in the world, I’d still run out of time at the end of the day. Focus and priority are our best friends here.

The thing we need to remember is success and opportunity stacks. Neither is assured, but both success and opportunity tend to build upon one another. One success leads to more opportunity leads to more (potential) success etc.

So where do you want to succeed?

What’s a problem you are struggling with that would wipe out most of your other problems if you were to solve it?

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #826

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Too Much of a Good Thing

“Any man who reads too much and uses his own brain too little falls into lazy habits of thinking.”

Albert Einstein

Have you ever enjoyed something too much?

I’m not talking about the bad things we enjoy. Too much of a bad thing is easy. ‘Bad’ in this case, I mean unhealthy when taken to the extreme. (Alcohol for example, which is fun socially, sure, but terrible for your health and sleep, to say the least.)

But what about too much of a good thing?

If I won the lottery tomorrow and didn’t have to work, I’d probably spend all my time reading. But is that actually beneficial? Reading is a massive enhancement on your life (and livelihood) but would spending all of my time reading amount to anything? What about exercising or building businesses or traveling or drawing or communicating or school?

Extremes are the traits you want to watch out for and adjust. I think it’s safe to say too much of anything has a diminishing value. If you find yourself repeatedly only doing one thing over and over again, perhaps it’s time to find another good habit to balance it out with.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #814

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