I can remember before my first Quantum Mechanics final I had about 14 books checked out from the library. The book we were using was okay, but because the professor didn’t do a good job of explaining the material, I needed some help. Therefore, I turned to every book on Quantum Mechanics I could find in my school’s library that was applicable to an undergraduate level. The night before the exam was just too much. I flipped through the books and stayed up most of the night when I should have been getting some sleep. However, once started on the quest, I consumed too much. As a result, I was tired and did worse than I should have on the test. This is an example of consuming too much. In addition to lack of sleep, another consequence can be having a hard time making a decision.
Then there’s the example of consuming the wrong type of information. You have to be careful of what you take in, whether that be TV/movies, music, audiobooks, podcasts, or books in print. Some things are *not* healthy for you and while you may think they have no impact, every input has the potential to cause changes in our brain structure (see neuroplasticity). Therefore, we must guard carefully what we consume.
I realized this lesson again recently when I picked up a book I had recommended to me both by friends I knew and some bloggers I follow. However, after reading through the introduction, I was immediately on my guard. I quickly skimmed through the book and realized that while the book might be highly recommended, it was filled with stuff I couldn’t agree with and couldn’t reconcile with my viewpoints. Though the book was often touted as a “productivity book,” it was really a compilation of new age concepts and philosophies openly touted as being effective and worthwhile.
Don’t misunderstand me. There is scientific evidence to support having a positive attitude and in the use of visualization techniques. Those are fine and I agree with them. However, those were relatively minor points to some of the other “teachings” found in the book, teachings that can’t hold up to a shred of logic, teachings that were obviously in conflict with other teachings within the same book (and fairly obvious since I really just skimmed the book). As a result, I put the book down. I have plenty to read that this particular book isn’t worth my time. I have quite intentionally filtered it out.
You have a limited amount of time. Don’t waste time on information that you can reasonably judge as not being of much help. It doesn’t matter who recommended it. It doesn’t matter if it’s on some bestseller list. While there’s always the danger that by not consuming that information you may miss some key point or helpful hint, that’s not very likely. A lot of folks write about a lot of things. If something is a worthwhile concept, you’ll likely pick it up consuming something that *is* worth your time. Therefore, don’t be afraid to filter out that which is of little or no help. You’ll be better for it.