A relaxed brain is a productive brain

When I write about my life system I speak about it like it’s static and never changes. The truth is that details are always evolving and changing. There’s always parts of your system that can be tweaked, removed or added.
I try my best to not have any wasted moments. I read in the bathroom, I start drafts while waiting for the microwave, and I plan out videos when making coffee.
I also listened to podcasts when going to sleep. This was not just for learning, but I told myself it helped me relax and go to sleep better. Listening to audio books or podcasts is something that I’ve always done. It goes so far back that the first audio books I listened to where on cassette tapes!

Input != Output

But as I ramped up my consumption to be able to have material to work with I felt my brain begin to croak. I had voices in my ears going to work, then I read on my phone on my breaks, went home with voices in my ears, took care of my children, read while they went to bed and then wrote when they were asleep. Then I was supposed to go to sleep as well, but why waste that time?
Well because your brain need to do nothing to actually process all that information[^1]. If you don’t give your brain any free time it’ll have less time to sort through all your input. Sure, it can do some processing when you sleep, but I have two toddler with low sleep need and a penchant for night wakings. I need all the downtime I can fit in.

A quiet mind

So I decided to stop. I even took it one step further and put my phone away before I even went to sleep. The first night the strangest thing happened. It felt like I was making popcorn in my brain. And not in a good way. I didn’t have ideas or inspiration as much as I was bombarded with images and thoughts.
The following nights were more pleasant. I even felt like I had some control over my thoughts. I started getting ideas and the urge to take my phone out and write them down was intense. But I persevered and actually just let the ideas go.
I hope that this realization, with my added habit of using a paper notebook as an inbox rather than taking my phone out can help bring my screen time down even more. I’m not a screenophobe nor a luddite, far from it. I playfully call my podcast free bedtime “defrag time” so technology is omnipresent in our household.
But the feeling of my brain truly relaxing was so overwhelming that I hope that less screen time will equal better ideas and more output. Since stopping my bad habit I’ve been able to add three posts in my blog queue and I uploaded a video a day early so could have a Sunday off (that I spent writing this post.)

[^1]: Smith, K. Neuroscience: Idle minds. Nature 489, 356–358 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1038/489356a

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