From Input to Accomplishment – Separating “Buzz’ from “Useful Input”

Many years ago, one of the magazines (I simply don’t remember if it was Time or Newsweek) had an advertising campaign that went something like this:  “read our magazine each week, and you will be a more interesting conversationalist at parties.”  I think I agree with that.  You know…  the more you know, the more you know…  and the more people will want to talk to you. 

Well, I get the usual morning e-mails telling me what to think about.  There seem to be more by the month/week…  And I check a growing number of diverse web sites. And I even glance at the physical newspaper, which I still pay for to be delivered to our house.

Just this morning, I have read (or read about):  conspiracy theories about what happened to missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370; what happens on a regular basis on one of our aircraft carriers; an interview with Robert Duvall; misc. pieces about politics; and a fascinating article about how 4-5 year olds figure out what to do with gadgets faster than college students do.  (Read this one!).  And, many more items (how to write better; what to ask in a job interview; what David Letterman ate on his show last night with Sylvester Stallone – yep, you guessed it)…

One e-mail I receive is titled “Your morning buzz.”  (This morning’s “morning buzz” prompted this blog post).  And, it started me thinking…  I started thinking about what I read in the morning.  And, then, I started thinking about all the stuff I read.

Let’s divide life into inputs and outputs.  We’ll view inputs as the stuff we take in, and outputs as what we actually do with all those inputs.

Or, maybe think about it this way:  inputs are preparing to do things/tasks/jobs/projects, and outputs is the doing of all of these things we prepared to do…

Inputs are all those items we read or listen to or watch.  Books; articles; blog posts; tweets; TV shows; youtube videos; listening to (physically attending, or watching on-line) presentations….

Some are simply entertaining – or, simply “diversions.”   Some are, “that’s cool,” or “that’s interesting.”

But some are actually useful.  In other words, they teach me something new, or remind me of what is important to accomplish.

In fact, I think maybe we have to look for and find the useful on purpose – like hunters, looking for our prey.  (“Seek — until you find…”).

And, when we find something useful, our “what do I do with this, now that I am learning it” mode kicks into gear.  Maybe the process goes something like this:

• Zoom in with full attention.
• Then, think about what you have just taken in – ponder a bit.
• Then, ask, what will I do with this useful input?
• Then, actually do something with this useful input.

It is that last step – actually doing something with this input – that is most important.

Here’s what I think:  it really is ok to do a lot of “just getting the juices flowing” input accumulation.  But, it is better to get to the inputs that lead to the outputs that result in actual accomplishment.

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