Do you really need to eat (read) that?

Learning well is like eating well. There are a lot of cheap, unhealthy options out there. But if you really want to do what’s best, you’ll start finding and consuming the good stuff.

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If you’re like me, you love to learn.

But with so many resources out there, it’s easy to get stuck on the information hamster wheel.

“Wait…what did I just read? Why did I read that? Why do I feel so tired and so behind all the time? Ooh, another link!”

When I was growing up our family would occasionally go to Ponderosa. It was a kid’s dining paradise: all you can eat macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes, fried chicken, nachos, ice cream, etc.

But my sister was a bit more discerning. She called it Pondergrossa which still makes me laugh to this day. And she was right. From a taste, nutrition, and and sustainability perspective, Ponderosa gets an F.

I could be wrong, but I suspect that learning well is bit like eating well. There are a lot of cheap, unhealthy options out there. But if you really want to do what’s best, you’ll start finding and consuming the good stuff.

So on that note, here’s what I think a good information diet might consist of:

1) Selectivity – What are the best resources to learn more about this subject? Who are the leading authorities? If you had to pick one book, podcast, online course, or conference what would it be and why? This is like picking a good restaurant.

2) Frugality – Have you already paid for this with your tax dollars and it’s waiting for you at your local library? Is there a friend you could borrow it from? Is there a free version online? Have you done a price comparison? This is like shopping at Aldi or signing up for a CSA program at your local farmer’s market.

3) Speed – Do you really need to read the whole thing? What if skipping to the summary was enough? How quickly can you get in and get out without wasting any time? This is like batching smoothie ingredients in freezer bags so you can just grab, blend, and go.

4) Application – So what are you going to do with what you just learned? What paradigms or priorities need to change?  Who do you need to share this with? There’s no point in eating well if you’re not living well.

Like any good diet, learning well requires planning, practice, discipline, creativity, support, encouragement, and whole host of other things. But in the end, all your hard work pays off.

Imagine your life on an information diet.

Author: Dave Mierau (Meer-oh)

Christ follower, family man, lifelong learner.

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