Have you ever had the thoughts “I have too much information and too many choices without a way to choose what’s right for me. I don’t have time to do all I need to do. I need to go on an information diet.”?

“I need to go on an information diet” is our solution to the uncomfortable experience of feeling information-bloated and time-deprived.

What happens to most of us when we’re uncomfortable ? We consider that a problem. We naturally want to get back into our comfort zone. That would be the obvious solution to our problem.

But what if that’s not the most powerful thing we can do? As with a food diet, more often than not, when we solve the weight problem the diet was supposed to address, we go right back to the behaviors that caused us to see the diet as a solution in the first place.

What if, instead of seeing the discomfort and disequilibrium around the information glut as a problem, we see it as a wake-up call to become more discerning? In other words, we see it as an opportunity to observe and to learn what information is powerful for us and which is irrelevant.

Notice your energy when you say “I have a problem.” Go ahead. Say it out loud or even just in your thoughts. Now say “I have an opportunity to learn something about myself that could make my life easier.” Do you experience a difference? The first activates a different part of the brain than the second. With the first statement you get your rational self in gear. You focus on being in problem-solving mode. With the second statement you may have an experience of spaciousness and possibility. You ‘re open and receptive. There just might be an adventure around the corner. It invites you to be alert and to observe.

Hmm. Observation as a path to wisdom. Interesting? If so, I invite you to become curious about becoming an exquisite observer of your experience of information-overload that has you propose going on an information diet. Maybe that’s a good idea. Maybe not. No need to decide. You have time.
“No, I don’t have time,” you protest. Not surprisingly, people’s number one concern—while unceasingly bombarded with information our incredible technology makes possible—is not having enough time. Yet we all have the same amount of time as everyone else. What we may have precious little practice in, however, is to discern what information to use and what information to ignore. We’re vulnerable to distraction. Unconsciously spending time on social media or reading that fascinating article of the two-headed cat they discovered in China. Oh, it’s so easy.

To discern what information to use and which to ignore becomes the same type of challenge as the decision what foods to eat and which ones to bypass or limit. Your first step with your relationship to food may be to take stock of what’s in your pantry, what you eat, how much, what quality. You look and you observe. Sometimes you’re surprised. You’d been unconsciously consuming food, not savoring it. Eating on the run in your car. Hmm. What you’re seeing could even lead you back to your assertion “I don’t have time.”

Could you get useful information if you were curious about y our assertion “I don’t have time”? Is it true, or is it a thought you have? Do you believe every thought you have? Might it be a conclusion you think is not a conclusion but the truth? Be interested if you’re insisting that yes, it’s true. End of conversation.

What discomfort are we running from anyway that we think we don’t have time? Most of us are used to going full tilt and trying to power ourselves down the road. If something doesn’t work, we just work a little harder, do more, do it better, do it faster. Would it be useful to take notice—or should the things we do again and again or those that bring us no satisfaction or short-lived satisfaction— be information for the “ignore pile”? What about the things we do that cause struggle or needless effort and don’t move us forward? Useful or “ignore pile”? Would it be useful to notice when we judge ourselves as “not good enough” unless we meet our rigid expectations for perfection? Or should this information go to the “ignore pile”?

To discern what information to use and which to relegate to the “ignore pile”. Hmm. What’s the cost if we send this information to the “ignore pile”?

Perfection and repetition of thoughts or actions that cause struggle or limited satisfaction are symptoms of driven behavior. Driven behavior wastes energy and time. Did I get any of you? If so, may I suggest that rather than assuming you have a problem with too much information and/or too little time, that you be curious about the discomfort you may be avoiding by your driven behavior?

We’re attracted to our driven behavior the same way we’re attracted to food that appeals to our taste buds. Are you more attracted to pizza than to broccoli? So to be curious about our discomfort, we need a dollop of courage and a cup of self-observation… which many of us may not stock in sufficient quantity in our skill-set pantry.

Notice if you’re protesting? Is that useful information too? How so?

To help us get started on learning or honing the skill-set of self-observation, we have many options (Remember, we’re not problem-solving. We’re making room for our natural voice of wisdom.). Here’s the first of three we’ll consider.

Go to www.rescuetime.com. This is an easily-installed automated tracking software that allows you to see what websites and applications you spend time on and how much time you spend. When you actually SEE that you spend 11 hours total on email and social media, you’ll know just what authentic action(s) you’re willing to take. I’m implying that self-observation in and of itself could be curative. No effort. No struggle. Just observation. It will activate your voice of wisdom as you begin to observe the driven behavior you may increasingly recognize in yourself.

The second thing you can do to practice self-observation may look on first blush as if it has nothing to do with an experience of information glut or the scarcity of time. I wish I could take credit for this brilliant exercise , but I heard it from my coach first and then from some Unity Church congregants next. Take on the project of giving up complaints for 21 consecutive days! You heard it correctly. Put a reminder wrist band on one wrist. Notice how well you do. If you slip, no problem. Just put the wristband on the other wrist and start again. See what you notice and what you learn. I’m doing this myself. So far so good, but I’m only on day one. It’s fascinating what I’m observing and learning.

A third thing you can to hone your self-observation skills is to ask the powerful question “Who am I longing to be at this season of my life?” On a scale of 1 to 5 (5 is most important), how important is it to you to be an effective manager? A visionary leader? A successful communicator? A loving family member or friend? A great mentor? A contributor to my community? A successful business owner? Entrepreneur? Fill in the blank. Not who should I be? No. Who I long to be! Not what do I long to do? But who am I longing to be? Be interested in your 4 and 5 scores.
When your daily activities are a demonstration of the purposes that give your life meaning, they warm your heart and nourish your spirit. You create goals that are a demonstration of those purposes. Hard work is not struggle. You effortlessly make the next play on goal. Your activities give you energy; they don’t waste it. You act in harmony with your natural wisdom which tells you you’re making the unique contribution that’s yours to make now. You might find different purposes important to you a year from now. This is just for now. Be here now!

Would it be useful to be curious about the purposes that give your life meaning now? You can’t find out by problem-solving. Nor can you find it out as a “once and for all” answer to a question asked just once. Keep asking the same question and listen to your heart’s longing. Listen to that small, still voice of wisdom that ventures out and becomes stronger when you decide that inquiring may yield information that’s worth having and gives you the means to discard information that blinds you from seeing what really matters to you. Inquiry will lead you to what you need. Perhaps you need support in setting goals that are a demonstration of one or more of your longings. Perhaps you’re excited about ways to demonstrate your intentions, and you just need some encouragement. Whatever comes out of your inquiry, you will have supported your quest to act on behalf of what truly matters to you. May wisdom grow within you one observation at a time. And may you enjoy the experience of sufficient time that wisdom makes possible.

Author's Bio: 

Ingrid Martine, MA, PCC, author of The Un-Game and mind-ZENgineering coach works with organizations and individuals to empower them to move their lives from a 7 to 10 at work, home, and play. For her FREE report, “Reap the Harvest of a Quiet Mind: Empower Self, Empower Others”, or “Management Training for Business as Unusual”, visit: http://www.ingridmartinelifecoaching.com.