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Is Your Mind Eating Junk?

Just like burgers or ice cream is termed junk for the body, reality TV, celebrity gossip, Twitter/Instagram gists are all junk for the mind.



24 hours a day is no longer enough. Time is beginning to have wings and sometimes we wonder where it is rushing off to. It was 12 noon 5 minutes ago, it’s 6 pm now and we haven’t done anything. Sometimes, we want the clock to tick slowly as we snail through the day. I’m guilty of this: wanting more time. 24 hours seems like it’s never enough and I am in awe of highly productive people, you know, those who can do a million and one things within this time frame. In a conversation with Jeremy, I asked how he manages to stay highly productive, juggling 2-3 positions at the same time, writing, editing, teaching and directing – I mean, isn’t it a lot to handle?

It is, he says, but there’s time to do it all. What happens is that most people tend to fritter their days away, half-conscious of their activities, and then wonder where time is rushing to. This means that people remain semi-oblivious to the preciousness of time, subconsciously doing unproductive things – like fiddling with phones, watching TV, rather than tracking their actions to ensure they yield produce. This does not mean that people are lazy or unwilling to work or succeed, it is simply a lack of consciousness on their part. Jeremy says he barely watches TV, not because TV is bad, but for him, it is not a productive use of his time. So what he does is create a TV time where he gets to watch stuff with his family. It’s like a treat sort of. That way, he gets to really appreciate that moment. Jeremy believes when we deliberately allocate time for certain things, we get to look forward to, use and cherish those moments more. When, out of 24 hours, you assign 2 hours for entertainment, you get to enjoy and appreciate those 2 hours more. You’re also doing that particular action consciously and purposefully – if you please.

I am inclined to agree. I’ll also add that it makes all the difference between your mind eating junk and proper food. You can liken it to starting a fitness journey and planning your food ahead as opposed to grabbing whatever you can find when the hunger pangs arrive. 


There’s a straight line between what our minds eat, how we spend our time, and how productive we become. Here is how many of us spend our day: wake up; pick up the phone and check what’s happening on Twitter; switch to Instagram; go back on Twitter; check LinkedIn, check websites to see what’s happening around the world. Before we know it, we are soaked into the world of www.coms and hours pass before we become conscious of time and we snap out of it – every damn day. This content may keep us entertained, but our minds are literally eating junk on most days.

Just like burgers or ice cream is termed junk for the body, reality TV, celebrity gossip, Twitter/Instagram gists are all junk for the mind. They’re mental fast food – low quality, highly processed and hastily churned out. Hours of soap operas, social media, and binge-watching are mental junk foods. You know how you buy your iced cream occasionally knowing fully well it is not healthy for your body? Consume junk media that way: once in a while. Don’t let it become your main mental food. Else you find your concentration level begins to dip, you find it difficult to read long-form essays, you stop reading books or watching documentaries, you find yourself reaching for your phone in-between work, and you begin to know too many irrelevant things – that celebrity who had plastic surgery or this couple fighting on Twitter or this oversabi person on Instagram. You also find out your mind is overstimulated, on the go at all times, looking for something quick and easy to grab along the way.

You can find your way back. Fitness experts will tell you, when you decide to make healthy food choices, to take certain baby steps, like replacing soda with unprocessed fruit juice, replacing chips with nuts, eating fruits when you feel like snacking, and so on. In an essay I read some time ago, the author (pardon me, I cannot remember the title nor the author) said, “If I do decide to watch something, I put on a good movie or documentary, and then I followed a handful of creators on YouTube who make high-quality content.” This is a great way to start, if you’re tempted to binge-watch something, try a documentary, or a YouTube show – or any show that adds value to your mind. That way, what you watch leaves your brain in a much better shape.

Another way to think of it is more mental junk meals lead to more unproductive time. Jeremy says I should think of time in accumulated form. If you wake up by 6 am, pick up for phone, and consume what is mostly-irrelevant news for 2-3 hours (since work officially starts at 9 am), you’d have subconsciously wasted 21 hours of your (morning) time in a week, 84 hours in a month, 1008 in a year. Imagine if you do the same in the afternoon and/or evening before going to bed, you’d be losing thousands of hours doing – nothing productive! 1 hour here or 2 hours there look insignificant but become consequential when summed up. Thinking of it this way helps you put a few things into perspective. You realise time doesn’t have wings, we have not just learned to catch up with it.


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