Collecting is rewarding1.
It feels productive to ingest information and unproductive to spend time digesting it. But a body that doesn't digest is malnourished and a mind that doesn't process its input is starved.
Accumulating information is tangible and potentially addictive. Each bookmark, screenshot, and wishlist item provides immediate feedback with little effort, while at the same time closing a short-term Zeigarnik loop, allowing us to mentally shelf an idea. Collecting and storing information in various places feels good because it removes the fear of losing access to it.
However, storing information only gives the illusion of progress, but those who just collect never make progress. In fact, their collection of information hinders them by overwhelming their ability to process information.
Furthermore, unprocessed information will eventually become a source of anxiety as it piles up intimidatingly high until it becomes unmanageable.
Similar to a mountain of consumer debt, the only escape seems to be bankruptcy.
Knowing of something isn't the same as knowing something because learning is the result of effort, not consumption. In order to form understanding from information, you have to extract what's inside of the things you collect.
“The habit of keeping the cycle of research, reading, and knowledge assimilation short is a powerful way to circumvent our innate addiction to gather piles of stuff.”— Christian Tietze
Collect with purpose. Slow down enough to process the information you consume. Examine information and use it as an opportunity to improve your ability to determine what’s relevant to you.
The ability to distinguish relevant from less relevant information is a skill that can only be learned by doing.
Without the ability to determine what's relevant collecting devolves into hoarding.
Until next time,
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