Connection today is more powerful than it has ever been before.
On a daily basis, thousands of tweets fill my stream, hundreds of posts fill my feed, countless emails fill my inbox, new TED talks are uploaded, and all my favorite blogs have new updates. While the access to and amount of information is incredible, it’s nearly impossible to keep up with it all.
But the reality is that you don’t have to be up to date with everything that is happening in order to make a dent in the world. Being well informed has little correlation with the impact they have.
It’s tempting to want to follow every single blog and news source in the world to see what other people are up to. It feels good to know what has been done and what has not. But the truth is, it’s easier to listen to something than it is to do something.
The effectiveness of the content that is consumed depends not only on the content itself, but the space and context that it is consumed. Reading a news article without actually doing anything about it makes the news merely informative entertainment.
In designer’s terms, negative space refers to the space around and between the subject of an image or design element. It’s often the white or blank space that subtly adds meaning and significance to the positive space, or the subjects in focus.
When it comes to acquiring new information, the negative space between information that you consume matters just as much as the information you consume. The negative space is what allows you to process and synthesize your own thoughts about the content you are taking in.
There’s nothing wrong with reading every single business book in the world. There’s nothing wrong with keeping yourself updated with every blog post someone puts out. But there comes a point where you can no longer be merely a consumer.
Take time after reading an article or book and ask yourself what it actually means to you. Let the new ideas spin gears in your head and inspire you to actually do something. It helps to regularly block out input from information sources, and organize your own thoughts in the negative space.