Time Out on New Input!

July 30, 2020 3 min read


A friend recently asked on Facebook for “the most challenging and enlightening resource you have read/watched about the problem of racism in America”. This question received numerous responses within the day: half a dozen films, dozens of books, podcasts, courses, and other hubs of information resources (as well as the astute reply, “Conversation”, which is, of course, the most relational and human of “resources”).

I think that this experience was shared by most people in early June (as protests & concerns over racial injustice had reached a critical volume): so many resources, so much to learn.

But now, 2 months later… what have we done with the magnitude of worthy, fascinating, perspective-altering information & insights that have been brought to our attention? 

And this it only in the area racial injustice. In other interests & concerns: How much do we know? How much have we learned & read & listened to already?


Here’s the thing…

We have enough content to read, watch, listen to, consider, act upon… for several lifetimes. Truly!

What we rarely have is the patience, focus, and stamina to learn & absorb deeply. (Not to mention, to take action, yikes!)


We all have different levels of how much news/media/information we can absorb before our brains & emotions explode or we become numb. So, if you can read the news every day, and follow lots of changemakers, and collect more resources — without feeling inundated & overwhelmed — you do you! For myself and anyone else who feels like they need a T/O on new input, here's what I propose: a break and an audit.


First: do an audit of the resources you already have.

Make a list — or create a shelf, make a pinboard, take a note, or WHATEVER — of the books, podcasts, articles, courses, etc. that have already been on your radar. A recommendation from a trusted friend, a book on your bedside table (unread), a link in your "saved" folder... 

Key: Do not go looking for more information!  Take a look at what is already before you and dwell there. Do not sign up for more newsletters or start following new people!

This exercise — let's say a month of break — is to take a pause from new input, and focus on existing, available resources.

Take some time & dive into all that you have already collected. 


The second audit is of what you already know

What snippets, articles, or books have you read in the past that still stand out in your mind? What is a podcast that rocked you, or a conversation that changed you? Instead of starting something new, go back. Remember the bits that you've already learned. Go back to the source and re-hear it again.

In some cases, during some seasons, what we need is to learn more & hear new voices — sometimes that results in a complete shift of perspective!

But, I would argue that more often, the reality is that we simply need to dwell more, longer, and with greater depth, on what we already know.

Naturally, what may extend from that second audit is the question: what nowWhat do I do with what I know?!

Maya Angelou famously said,

“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”

I want to affirm LOUD AND CLEAR that everyone has different gifts & inclinations, different contributions for the world. I've wrestled around with this tension for years.

Some great news isin most cases, something extraordinary has come as a result of a whole lot of ordinary.


Let's give ourselves the freedom this month to actively avoid new ideas (great and insightful and deep as they may be) and dwell on everything that has confronted us already. To take stock, make decisions, and step forward as we feel compelled.

2 Responses

Stephanie Hilliard
Stephanie Hilliard

August 01, 2020

Thank you for this insight. As someone who tends to “packrat” information (although I’ve gotten much better lately), I run into this problem of saving things I’m interested in, but then not doing anything them, half reading them, or forgetting that I have them. This is good encouragement to stop, reassess, and dive into what is already available, rather than continually taking on new information.

Like many people, the slower pace and enforced isolation has caused me to do some soul searching. This is a good advice as part of that self-assessment.

Mary Cox
Mary Cox

August 01, 2020

Thank you for verbalizing so simply the very issues I have been struggling with for years. As a matter-of-fact, I had decided pre-pandemic, to embark on a period of self-discovery, which included actually finishing the several projects half done and re-reading the books that I kept after two years of de-cluttering and donating the bulk for other people to enjoy. I’ve been reacquainted with my sewing machine. I actually fixed it myself and it runs like a charm! As for the books I am rereading, well all I can say is that I think I’ve gained more this time round. And you know what? Since limiting my intake of new (I do still keep current and can’t resist the occasional new read), I find my mind and heart have more room to grow. Even the cat seems calmer. What’s more, reading your post today felt as comforting as the kantha throws that I love to wrap myself up in. Best wishes to you all.

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