How Social Media, Podcasts and Audiobooks Rob you of your Intelligence and Memory and How to Get It Back
Strange thing started happening to me this year. I started to forget random stuff more and more. Even for simple things, if I didn’t make a list before going to the supermarket, I would forget half of the items. This started becoming more serious as I kept forgetting more important things (like going to the store in the first place :)).
My intuition started declining as well. During my day (and night) job as a software engineer I get stuck on complex problems all the time. The solution most of the time comes to me when I’m taking a break: going for a walk, hitting the gym or taking a shower. Day by day these insights started disappearing as well. I knew the problem was my doing but I couldn’t put my finger on it.
Few months ago I re-watched a few lectures of Learning How to Learn. One of the key concepts is how to use the two distinct modes of operation of our brain called: Focused and Diffuse mode. Both totally different, but equally important.
Focused mode is when you’re hard at work trying to solve a problem. In this mode your brain connects neurons in your brain that are close together. Your focus is on a particular area.
Diffuse mode is when you take a break and you give your brain a chance to connect unrelated concepts subconsciously and come up with a key insight. For this to happen your mind should be empty, this usually happens while doing mindless things like going for a walk, working out or taking a shower.
I was taking these breaks but during my walks I was listening to audiobooks, podcasts or watching youtube videos and browsing social media.
These things were occupying my brain’s RAM memory, sort to speak. and it couldn’t enter Diffused mode. This was the reason for all my problems.
By having constant input into my mind, wether it was positive like audiobooks and podcasts or negative like social media it was still occupying valuable space.
Even though I was thinking I’m using every available minute to improve myself I was actually slowing myself down and my intellectual capacity was declining. That’s the same as overeating from healthy food. You can still overeat and feel sick.
However not using social media at all or not listening any audiobooks is not a solution so I came up with a few rules for myself:
- No social media or audio inputs in the morning when my willpower is at 100% and it’s easy to say no, this makes it easier to keep saying no during the day.
- I meditate during my daily breaks, I recommend these 20 minute guided meditations.
- I still allow myself to do these things but in a restricted window of few hours, anywhere from 5pm until 10pm.
- No Social media or audio inputs one hour before going to bed. The last thing that’s on our mind before going to sleep is what our brain will stay focused on during sleep.
As it turns out the solution was to keep my mind emptier by limiting the input of information. But social media and audiobooks are far from the only things on our minds these days. As intellectuals in the 21st century we all have many things we want to accomplish and habits we want to develop. Keeping track of all these things in our head is not a smart thing to do. I was in search for an app that can store these things and I wasn’t happy with the ones that were already there. That’s why I created LifeHQ. It is a set of tools for Journalling, Project management, Daily To-Dos, Habit forming and keeping your knowledge base in one place. These are all combined into one complete productivity system called LifeHQ. Learn more, it’s free.
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