(Breather) We are diving into one of my favorite topics today: how to deal with hyper-connectivity and overstimulation.
There is such an excess of content out there, but there is a way to deal with it: instead of feeling overwhelmed and stressed, you can utilize some strategies suggested by Michael Simmons in order to extract “breakthrough knowledge.” He argues that while everyone deals with social media excess, successful people have mastered the ability to find breakthrough knowledge in our era of information overload.
I go into detail about Dr. Matthew Walker’s views on sleep. Since we are simply less productive when we become deficient in sleep, you can actually get more done in less time – if you are taking care of your health. Many athletes and fitness enthusiast types have reported experiencing epiphanies and breakthroughs in their mindset and decision making when exercising. The brain on exercise is operating at a higher level, increasing creativity and cognitive function. This is why it is so crucial to make sure you get your 15-minute break every couple of hours and are mindful of moving your body, even just a little bit, after sitting for just 20 minutes. 20 minutes seems innocuous, but it makes a real difference.
Another seemingly innocuous but harmful daily habit? According to Dr. John Gottman – rolling your eyes. It’s a total relationship killer. Do yourself and your partner a favor and keep that contempt to yourself!
I delve into “Content Shock” and how I deal with the avalanche of information out there, and why it’s so hard to fight against Constant Distraction – especially with all the clickbait online and marketers, software developers, and hackers all focused on one thing: how to get you addicted to their product. Billions of dollars are spent getting your attention – and the more time you spend surfing their site, the more money they get. So how do you counteract all the efforts to steal your time and your attention? You have to be picky.
What more can you do for yourself than be picky? Having boundaries and standards when it comes to everything that enters your body and your mind is of the utmost importance now more than ever. The internet can be a “junk food information desert,” so you gain much more from being proactive instead of reactive. Ask yourself: “Does this content provide me with breakthrough knowledge that has the potential to change my life?” Work on implementing patterns in your life that improve it – like actively seeking out critical feedback like Elon Musk, who believes that pursuing experiences and knowledge that prove you wrong is far more valuable than things that confirm you’re right.
Learn hour to navigate the avalanche of content that you face very day. [01:57]
We are less productive when we become deficient in sleep. [05:09]
Movement breaks from seating as well as exercise are needed for good cognitive function. [05:38]
What is Content Shock? (07:51]
The Echo Chambers are the groups you join to connect with others. [10:02]
Constant Distraction keeps us from focusing our attention. [11:07]
Fear of Missing Out creates stress. [12:59]
What we want to do is change our approach to media from reactive to proactive. [15:11]
What does “opportunity cost” mean? [18:37]
Brad reviews the concept of ‘mental models” [20:35]
Learn to be picky. [23:58]
- “The average person who is not deliberate will tend toward a media diet of junk food.”
- “What we want to do is change our approach to media from reactive to proactive.”
- “Elon Musk said one of the most important things to do is to actively seek out critical feedback and realizing that something that proves you wrong is way more important and valuable than things that confirm, uh, that you’re right.”
Brad: 00:01 Welcome to the get over yourself podcast. This is Brad Kearns. I cover health, fitness, peak performance, personal growth, relationships, happiness and longevity. So slow down, take a deep breath, take a cold plunge and pursue your competitive goals in all areas of life with great intensity and passion, but release your attachment to the outcome and learn to have fun along the way. That’s the theme of this show. Here we go.
Brad: 00:32 In a large organization, half of the work done by the square root of the total number of employees. Trip out! Half of the work is done by a very small number of employees. If you’re thinking of a company with 100 employees in there, half of the work is done by the 10 superstars that are cranking out the most work.
Brad: 00:57 Breather show. Hello. Hey, everybody. Oh, this is an important show because it deals with one of my, well I guess I should say, favorite topics, but topics of most concern and daily disturbance, which is hyperconnectivity overstimulation, avalanche, overflowing content giving me a headache, making me suffer from those terrible melodies of FOKU and FOMO. Go back and listen to my show with Dr Elisha Goldstein of the Mindfulness Institute and you’ll know what those mean. Fear of keeping up and fear of missing out. So I saw a great article on medium.com from Michael Simmons talking about the concept of breakthrough knowledge and providing some practical skills to help you navigate the avalanche of content, the excess of content and stimulation that we face every single day, uh, in a manner that can minimize your stress and help improve your life. So the article spoke to me because it presents a hopeful solution to the overwhelm of contents, stimulation that’s driving me mad and making me so uncomfortable.
Brad: 02:35 Ha. You know, I do pretty good job of writing down stuff that people tell me to watch. Uh, taking notes about the podcasts. I listened to, uh, writing a name of a book that I was recommended. And so I have this super long list of stuff to watch on youtube movies to watch shows to watch. And the list is longer and longer. So I’m maintaining my list, but it’s getting longer and longer. I don’t even make a dent in it. When I do have the occasional free time to watch a show, I usually go back to Curb Your Enthusiasm instead of branch out and try a popular new show now. And then I watch some funny stuff made in Mexico is a reality show that helps me with my Spanish cause it has subtitles and oh my gosh, they have Kardashians down there. The show’s pretty crazy man.
Brad: 03:28 So go find that on Netflix if you’re rolling your thumbs and have free time. But if you’re like me and you’re feeling a little stressed by all the content and all the ambition that you have to consume it, let’s apply some strategies recommended by Michael Simmons. Uh, he’s selling some coursework here in the course of his article. So, uh, don’t be dissuaded when you read through it. Uh, take what you get from it and maybe you will be enticed to take his coursework. Sounds like it’s really good stuff. I really appreciate the article. So the title of it is, While Everyone is Distracted by Social Media, successful people doubled down on an underrated skill and that would be mastering the ability to find what the author calls breakthrough knowledge in our era of information overload. Uh, he gives examples of famous people who talk about a exposure to a book or certain line of thinking, uh, that changed their life.
Brad: 04:35 Warren Buffett has his favorite book on investing that he’d read so long ago and informed his strategy and his philosophy for many years in the future. Elan Musk says the same thing about some book he read as a youth and a boo for him. Uh, in that recent headline story where he said that you have to work a hundred hours a week to truly change the world and do something great. It’s a bunch of nonsense, man. Can you say control freak? I can, and we have numerous sleep experts like the Dr. Matthew Walker of UC Berkeley that I mentioned on an earlier show and he has a full length show on the Joe Rogan podcast that you can listen to a describing in great detail. The profound science that, uh, without any hesitation, uh, concludes that we are less productive when we become deficient in sleep. So if you’re walking around like a Zombie, proud of yourself, uh, that you’re working many, many hours, you can literally get more done in less time if you take care of your health.
Brad: 05:38 That includes exercising. Uh, there’s so many things that happen to the brain when you conduct aerobic exercise comfortably paced, aerobic exercise. And then again, when you conduct a brief high intensity sprint workouts and so many athletic types, fitness enthusiasts report, uh, experiencing, uh, epiphanys, breakthroughs in mindset or decision making when they’re out in the midst of exercise because the brain simply fires better more clearly, and you have more creativity when you’re moving and breathing because humans were made to move and breathe all day long. Right? Our hunter gatherer ancestors for two and a half million years set us up nicely to have this healthy, active and smart and critical thinking lifestyle. So when we sit on our ass after a short a time is only 20 minutes, we become a inferior with our insulin sensitivity. In other words, we stop burning fat well, and we also experience a noticeable decline in cognitive function just from sitting for extended periods.
Brad: 06:45 That’s why those brief work breaks even as little as a couple minutes to go trot down a flight of stairs to the other floor in the building and then zoom back up your flight of stairs, get back into your cubicle or your office and sit down to your keyboard. And you have increased mental clarity just from moving a little bit every 20 minutes and moving a lot, every couple hours, maybe 15 minute break every couple hours. We know that the workers in fields that require intense cognitive function such as air traffic controllers and card dealers in the casinos operate on a schedule of extremely frequent breaks. I believe the card dealers go 40 on 20 off. Maybe that concept seems preposterous to you in your routine office job working with the team who might not dig you baling, uh, 20 minutes for every hour, but it’s something to think about an associate or apply in some level way, shape or form to your own peak cognitive tasks.
Brad: 07:51 Okay. Back to the article. So the author Michael Simmons describes the problem as the four horsemen of the info apocalypse. Okay. And details, these problems that emerge from the information age and our hyperconnectivity. Are you familiar with the four horsemen of the apocalypse as detailed by Dr John Gottman when it comes to relationships? I talked about that a little bit in a breather show about relationships and we’ll get deep into that concept in future shows. Uh, but his four horsemen of the apocalypse for a relationship is, uh, let’s see, is it anger, criticism, stonewalling, and finally contempt, which John Gottman describes as the number one relationship killer. Uh, practically speaking that would be eye rolling. Wow. Trip out on that. Cause we see a lot of eye rolling in daily life and we think it’s harmless. Huh? When we’re at parties and gathering and someone says a funny story and rolls their eyes about, you know how my husband, he’s always late and he thinks he’s on time and the person rolls their eyes.
Brad: 08:58 Ouch. Yeah. So watch out for contempt and eye rolling. Okay. That’s the relationship apocalypse per John Gottman. And now the info apocalypse. Reason number one, content shock and what this is as it sounds exponentially increasing volumes of content intersecting with our limited human capacity to consume it. And the big problem with content shock is we miss the truly life changing stuff, the breakthrough knowledge opportunities because it’s buried underneath everything else. Uh, my favorite quick example, you go on youtube and you type greatest dunk ever or something like that and you see some kids, uh, on their nerf basket in their bedroom. I know that if youtube were around when we were in middle school, we would have been bombarding that thing with a captivating titles like greatest dunk ever and ranking right up there with LeBron James bringing down the house in the large arena anyway. So content shock .
Brad: 10:03 Number two, echo chambers. And what this describes is the splintering of larger groups into smaller ones with more and more sophistication or narrowing of our areas of interest and likeness. And we have more opportunity to do that than ever before, don’t we? Cause we have podcasts with distinct niche programming and we have people that connect through social media into narrow and specific groups such as the speed golf discussion group on Facebook. Shout out the Keto reset group on Facebook, the Primal endurance group. We finally surround ourselves with so many likeminded people that we have a bit of bias going on. And we also get cliquey and we get close minded and narrow minded rather than openminded so it can turn into a this negative energy where you demonize other groups in order to elevate and also distinguish your group. So those are called echo chambers.
Brad: 11:07 Third One, constant distraction. Refer to the earlier breather show where I talked about the devious methods that the internet giants used to reel us in and grab our attention and drag us further down the hole, the bottomless pit with the clickbait and whatnot. Quoting from the article now, uh, marketers, software developers and hackers are gaining unprecedented access to data on human behavior and they use this information to master the science of capturing people’s attention and addicting them to their product. To the tune of billions of dollars spent on pulling your eyeballs away from whatever it is you were doing or really wanted to do when you engaged with the internet or with the APP and getting you to go down the advertising dollar rabbit hole where time equals money. The more time you spend clicking along, they’re getting what they designed and set out to do. And meanwhile, they’re pulling you away from your area of Focus, uh, ruining your attention span, messing with your head re wiring your brain.
Brad: 12:21 As we see from recent headlines about kids’ brains actually being changed and changed in function due to the growing up in the digital age and the constant hyperconnectivity overstimulation. So quoting again, our physical and virtual environments are surrounded by more and more content, whether editorial, advertising, or fake news. This content is marketed specifically to our own inclinations. Gee, have you noticed that, that the ads kind of match your area of interest when you’re using email or surfing the internet? Ah, this proves to be a powerful distraction. That’s number three, constant distraction. Number four, FOMO. (Fear of missing out). We have more and more choices than ever, but it becomes overwhelming and many studies link excess choice to more stress and less happiness paradoxically because you’d think if you went to the car dealer and you had more choice and more colors and more options, wouldn’t it be so fun and exciting and adventurous to dig further and get exactly what you want with the leather seats and the extra cup holders had, does anyone offer extra cup holders?
Brad: 13:34 That’d be cool. Anyway. Uh, what happens is you leave, even after you make your decision, you still suffer from FOMO and buyer’s remorse and all those things constantly second guessing your choices. So, uh, that was number four. So these four challenges, content shock, echo chambers, constant distractions and FOMO. Make it so quoting from the article that the average person who is not deliberate will tend toward a media diet of junk food. They’ll engage with what’s presented in front of their face. They’ll click on distractions and they’ll never feel quite sure what’s best. Ah, the Internet is starting to look more and more like an information desert. You know the food desert is a term for a grocery store in a low socioeconomic area that doesn’t even carry fruits or vegetables. So they call it a food desert. All you see is convenience, doors and all that.
Brad: 14:31 And so now this guy’s calling the internet of a junk food information desert because it’s not really what you want to engage with and you’re spent an hour and are you any better off? Have you experienced any breakthrough knowledge? No. And guess what? It’s going to get worse and worse. Nine years from now, the scientific knowledge on the planet earth will double from today’s sum total of all scientific knowledge discovered to date. So here’s the solution. If you’re going on medium and reading the article, you can field his pitch for his class. But let’s get into it. And what we want to do is change our approach to media from reactive to proactive. We cannot have faith that if we passively engage with the Internet, we’re going to get good stuff. Okay? So here’s how you do it. There’s three steps according to the author. Number one, ask this magic question.
Brad: 15:31 Does this content provide me with breakthrough knowledge that’s going to change my life, that has the potential to change my life? Or is it just incremental knowledge confirming what we already know to be true? And remember from a number two problem number two, echo chambers that you’re confirming what you know to be true in side your tiny little bubble of likeminded enthusiasts such as let’s say, people volleying back and forth on the speed golf discussion group about how great speed golf is and how stupid it is to take so long to play golf with all those clubs and silly golf carts driving around. Okay. So, uh, the author sites, a cool example here of asking the magic question, uh, an example of something that changed his thinking, changed his life was watching an interview with Elon Musk. There he is again, no more teasing this time.
Brad: 16:25 Uh, but Elon Musk said one of the most important things to do is to actively seek out critical feedback and realizing that something that proves you wrong is way more important and valuable than things that confirm, uh, that you’re right. Okay. For example, I’m making this example of taken a golf lesson. I recently had a putting lesson from my man, Christopher Smith over the Internet, sending him a video, uh, thinking I was a nice, graceful, smooth putter. And he said, no, no, take a longer backswing because you’re a little herky jerky there. So I learned far more than I could myself watching the video myself confirming that, yeah, that’s me wearing the bright colored shoes and there’s my putting stroke. Isn’t it nice ? Get it. Okay. So seek out, break through knowledge, ask yourself that important question as you, uh, engage with technology with a content. Number two is mental models.
Brad: 17:30 And this is a concept of taking, distilling a vast amount of information into these, uh, universal rules. Okay. And then making a mental model accordingly. Here’s what I mean by example. The 80 20 rule, which states that 20% of the work that you do delivers 80% of the results. That’s one definition. A lot of people use 80, 20 for different purposes. But in this case, the 80 20 rule applies to the most efficient work that you do. Uh, another one that might fall into this mental model is the statistic I believe cited by Seth Goden recently on one of his blog posts that in a large organization, half of the work is done by the square root of the total number of employee.. trip out. Half of the work is done by a very small number of employees. If you’re thinking of a company with 100 employees in there, half of the work is done by the 10 superstars that are cranking out the most work.
Brad: 18:37 I mentioned this stat to a friend of mine who works in a large bureaucracy and he said, oh my gosh, that is so spot on. I’m like, no way, man. That’s crazy. Okay, here’s another mental model. A opportunity costs. You know, the concept of opportunity cost, which applies to just about everything that you do and opportunity cost is simply the cost of not doing something else. So if you blow five grand on a cruise, that means you cannot paint your house. The opportunity cost of the cruise is not painting your house. Uh, not putting a down payment on a car, not buying some more stock in Google or apple, that kind of thing. And you think about opportunity costs of everything that you do with your time. If you go to a movie in the afternoon, you can’t rake the leaves in your yard and you can apply this concept of opportunity cost to everything that you do.
Brad: 19:35 So when you’re kicking into gear with these mental models all the time, all kinds of good things happen. The author gives a few examples. You can review your past mistakes with a different perspective and gain new insights applying these mental models, such as the 80, 20 rule. Gosh, I wasted a lot of time on that project and it didn’t even make any money. And I did that again the following year. Right? You’re applying mental models. Uh, it also helps you, it frees you up to try unusual or creative things instead of constantly being stuck in rigid thought patterns and you get more epiphany’s because you plug in to these mental models and make these fast intuitive connections from one body of information. One concept to another, which, uh, I’ve read that this is one of the highest forms are the greatest representation of intelligence is that ability to, uh, take chunks of information and make intuitive leaps.
Brad: 20:32 So you need mental models to do that. Number one, reviewing, ask the magic question. Does this exposure provide the opportunity for breakthrough knowledge? Number two, put mental models into play. And number three, learn how to learn who, yes, reviewing. Remember the scientific method, that concept of a that we had in middle school science about how to actually do a science experiment. So the scientific method is this process of asking a question that you want the answer to. Doing some research, constructing a hypothesis, and then conducting the experiment and reviewing the data. Uh, remember my son’s project in middle school, uh, was something like, if I play calm music, will it help me sink more free throws when help improve my free throw percentage? And the, uh, the science teacher came back with a veto and said, no, that’s not a, that’s not a word. The scientific experiment.
Brad: 21:30 And I’m like, the hell it isn’t, that’s a fantastic idea for a scientific experiment. Go tell this fool that you’re going to be shooting free throws. I don’t think it worked. Anyway. Uh, another thing about learning how to learn, besides applying the scientific method, understand the value of diverse knowledge rather than having a narrow focus. This will help you better make breakthroughs and get better at applying those mental models when you have passions for music and exercise and fitness and reading and computer programming. And as you might guess, this demands the aggressive application of mental models to understand the new concepts. I remember when I was working, uh, as the employee wellness coordinator at a software company. So I’d meet one on one with people and talk to them about their fitness goals. And I was talking to this heavy duty software engineer, extremely bright young fellow, and I was talking about designing a training program where you did break through workouts that were difficult and challenging enough to stimulate a fitness breakthrough rather than doing the same old thing every day, rather than jogging three miles every single day.
Brad: 22:37 Hey, jog a couple miles a few days and then go out and run seven miles and then take the next couple of days off or just walk around the block and he’s like, oh, I understand. That’s like the photo electric effect. I’m like, what the heck is that? Had to go look it up on the Internet where, uh, the concept is that a single powerful light, let’s say of a thousand watts will actually outperform 10 smaller lights of a hundred watts due to some application of physics. I’m like, that’s exactly right. He absolutely understood what I was talking about with a mental model and an intuitive leap over to a scientific concept. Uh, finally understand the effects of confirmation bias. So realize that you’re in that bubble. Ah, I remember talking about the.com crash, uh, around the year 2000, and how I stayed in some, uh, stocks that were highly overvalued until they crashed. And I said to my friend, man, the next time there’s a bubble, I’m not going to be so greedy. I’m going to sell out early and just, you know, uh, be, be content with that. And he goes, well, by definition, the next time there’s a bubble, you won’t know there’s a bubble. Oh, yeah, that’s right.
Brad: 23:55 Okay. So those are some strategies. Be Picky, be ruthless with your discipline and your editing of all the content that you’re exposed to. My favorite example here is the billboard on the roadside. No one asked me if I wanted to look at that billboard, but I was somewhat compelled or forced to look at it because it was in my field of vision. But I don’t care about the new cars at the Hyundai dealership, a up ahead at the next exit. So that’s a highly offensive, uh, an affront to my limited, uh, opportunity for attention span and knowledge acquisition. So don’t look at billboards and then take that analogy to everything that you’re exposed to on the screen. When you’re a click away from something that amuses you briefly because it’s clickbait, leave it alone and stay ruthlessly focused on what you came there to do in the first place.
Brad: 24:48 Hey, and that includes entertainment. If you want to dedicate a 30 minute block of time to look in on youtube for the greatest goals ever scored by messy, you can enjoy yourself. It might not fall into that category of breakthrough knowledge and that’s okay. But make sure you’re in the command station. You’re in the driver’s seat and don’t wake up two hours later. Don’t come to two hours later. Uh, having gone off the rails far away from messies greatest goals and into stuff that diverted you from your plans after your half hour of entertainment was up. Thank you for listening. Good luck out there against the mighty forces of FOMO and FOKU. Hey, if you have a couple of seconds, please leave a rating and a review on iTunes or wherever else you consume podcasts. I really appreciate you spreading the word about the get over yourself podcast. Have a great day. This is Brad Kearns.