Integrating information into our lives (part one)

As I mentioned last week, integration has been on my mind—specifically, how we integrate all the information we consume into our daily lives.

The saying in one ear and out the other comes to mind when I think about the way many of us take in information. There’s so much available that it’s easy to just let our eyes and minds slide right over the surface, feeling somehow virtuous or productive simply because we’ve graced that information with our presence.

I’m speaking of myself just as much as anyone else here. But lately, this has felt dissatisfying to me. The swell of excitement that comes from reading or hearing something new is no longer enough. I don’t just want to hear or read about something—I want to live it.

After some thinking and practicing, I’ve found a way to make this more of a reality for me.

And now, in honor of my friends’ book launch today (see more toward the end of this email), I’m sharing it with you!

The process has three main parts—Gather, Connect, and Live (or GCL as I’m thinking of it in my mind)—so I’m going to share it with you in three separate emails. Let’s get started with gather today!

GCL Part 1 — GATHER


This may seem obvious, but the first step is to take in some information. But how you do so is important.

Now we could talk for a while about choosing what will have the most impact for you right now, but let’s just assume you’ve found something meaningful you’d like to consume—whether it’s a book, a podcast episode, an email, a blog post, or even information at a conference or retreat you’re attending.

Here are the keys to consuming the GCL way:

Pay attention. Full stop.
If you’re not ready to pay attention, to show up for what you want to learn, come back when you are. If you’re tired or distracted, you may be better served by a nap…a walk…a laugh with a friend…or simply a few minutes spent staring out the window.

Take notes about what strikes you.
When you’re ready to read or listen, make sure you write down phrases or ideas that truly capture your attention. I know you think you’ll remember things later—but you won’t. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve come back to notes I’ve made and felt as if I’m reading the ideas for the very first time. Our brains just can’t hold that much information.

Now this isn’t college and there won’t be a test (whew!), so don’t feel like you have to write down every word. (I’m speaking to myself as much as you here.) This is about making note of what feels truly meaningful to you, what you’d like to bring into your life or work or mindset as you move forward.

In short: Write down things that surprise you, delight you, or evoke some other reaction that you’d like to examine later. Don’t worry about the rest.

Also write down your impressions.
I’m going to repeat this because it’s important: Write down your thoughts and ideas and personal impressions as they come up. (Yes, in your notes. Right there beside words others have said or written, so you’ll remember what triggered them. I know it feels weird—for me, anyway. But I know you can do it.)

Again, it’s easy to feel you’ll just remember these things. But again, I’ll say that I often come back to these kinds of notes I’ve made and wonder whose brain they came from—I have no memory of thinking or feeling what I wrote down (…but I’ll say that I’m always grateful I did so!).

Do the exercises or worksheets or whatever is recommended.
Are you prompted to close your eyes and visualize something? Put down your pen. Close your eyes. Visualize. Then write down what it brings up.

Are you asked (probably nearly begged) to set an intention, choose a path, fill out a worksheet? Take the time. Do it.

I know—it feels more important (or productive or efficient or interesting or whatever) to press on, to soak in, to read the end, to get to the point. But the person who created this thing knows what they’re doing. They have a plan for you. Getting to the point will be more meaningful if you do what they’re asking you to do.

Make the time. You’ll get so much more out of this experience you’ve committed yourself to!

Write down thoughts that come to you later.
By now, you know what I’m going to say. You think you’ll remember…you won’t. I’ll skip the lecture.

I’ll just say that when thoughts come up in the shower or grocery store or when changing your wiggly toddler’s clothes (just kidding, it takes all your mental faculties for that one), write it down. In your phone, on a receipt, whatever you have handy—just make sure you add it to your notes. (If you need help with this, email me.) You’ll thank me when we get to the next step!

Ok, that’s it for today. I recommend trying this out on something small—an article you’ve read or been wanting to read, a chapter in a book, a podcast episode. Just choose something, take some notes, write down your impressions and thoughts you have later, and then wait (im)patiently for the next chapter to hit your inbox! Sneak peek: We’ll be talking about making connections among your ideas, and it’s gonna be good!

Until next time,
With much love,
Erica


P.S. Today is the day Being Boss: Take control of your work & live life on your own terms enters the world as a real, live, hold-in-your-hand book!

I'm so excited for my friends Emily and Kathleen for having launched this into the world, but also excited for us to learn from it. I plan to apply the exact tactics you’re reading about in this series as I read the book, and I'd love for you to do the same!

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P.P.S. Want to get the next two installments of this series in your email inbox? Sign up below! You'll get weekly-ish emails from me, as well as instant access to a library of worksheets I think you'll find really helpful.