Triggers: How To Unclog Your Brain Drain


What can we do to control what we think about … and ultimately our world? Thoughts pop into our head because of triggers.

Your world is the outcome of what you pay attention to. — Cal Newport, from Deep Work

Information is the most common trigger. A new piece of information reaches our ears or eyes. Tidbits become thoughts. We control who and where information originates. We have levers and switches to adjust the flow.

Media and messages source most of our daily information. Watching television or online news feeds puts thoughts into our head. A well-placed advertisement triggers an emotional connection. An email, text message, or quick hallway conversation shares a tidbit. All this stuff easily and frequently results in information overload.

We need filters to process all the tidbits flying around. Reaction to a new message is a decision. Too many decisions result in decision fatigue. If you never received, or never saw the message in the first place, there’s no decision to make. You stay one step further from decision fatigue.

To cut the crap, first find your purpose. Figure out what you care about and, more importantly, what you don’t care about. I don’t mean to hand-wave. Purpose finding is not simple. Here’s two different perspectives from people much wiser than I.

Warren Buffet’s trick. Make a list of 20 goals you’d like to accomplish. Circle the top 5. Avoid the other 15 at all costs.

Derek Sivers’ way. Hell Yeah or No.

Once you know your purpose, eliminate messages and media you don’t care about. Unsubscribe from almost everything. Remove all triggers possible. Disable smartphone app notifications. Unsubscribe email newsletters. Create email folders and filtering rules to pare down your inbox. Unsubscribe from podcasts. Develop discipline to avoid floating back to those much-loved information feeds.

Your life is the outcome of what you tolerate.

If you tolerate spam, your head becomes a giant spam can.

If you tolerate friends that spew negativity, your head overflows with pessimism.

If you tolerate blurred vision, you struggle to see.



It’s your choice. Choose to tolerate GREATNESS.


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