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The Low-Information Diet

03 January, 2008 - 1 min read

Learning to ignore things is one of the great paths to inner peace. -Robert J. Sawyer, Calculating God

Over the holidays I used the time off to finally read the excellent book by tech entrepreneur Timothy Ferris entitled The 4-Hour Workweek. Among his many techniques for increasing effectiveness and lifestyle design, Tim prescribes a “Low-Information Diet”. Being away from the lab was a perfect opportunity to test out an immediate one-week media fast. The rules are pretty simple:

No newspapers, magazines, or nonmusic radio No news at all No television No reading except one hour of fiction No Web surfing

This really exposed a bad habit of mine, unnecessary reading. My attention is almost constantly consumed by Google Reader as I unenthusiastically scour blogs, news, forums, and journals for several hours per day rendering me much less effective for the most important tasks. Following the rules above for over a week I feel rejuvenated. There’s a 9-day information gap in my Google Reader stats that I am quite proud of