Two Simple and Very Powerful Questions to Ask at the Start of Each Day

by David · 6 comments

1. What will I consume today?

2. What will I produce today?

These are the two questions I ask myself at the start of each day.

If you read this blog regularly then you’ll know that I’m a life-long learner dedicated to helping others become better at learning, and I have a few things I want to share about the learning process:

Learning anything involves two activities:  consumption and production.

Most people understand the concept. However, for most people it stops there; consumption with no production. Consuming information without production is like listening for your whole life and never speaking. A more extreme example would be eating and never excreting.

It’s extremely easy to consume information today with the internet because it’s so readily available and flies at us from every direction. However, there’s more as to why people stop at consumption, and that’s simply because consuming information is the easiest part of the learning process. Production is where the real work starts.

Another example would be the fact that people are often able to understand a language they’re learning far better than they can speak it. While there are other factors involved, often the reason for this is because more time has been spent consuming the language than there has been producing. This could be because of fear, lack of opportunities or possibly pure laziness. Whatever the reasons, it doesn’t change the fact that learning is an interconnected process and If you fail to consume or fail to produce then you’ll fail to learn anything entirely.

By asking yourself the questions: What will I consume today? and What will I produce today? you set a roadmap for the day to learn holistically, and at the end of the day you can reflect on how well you accomplished your goals.

Let me know in the comments: What will you consume today? What will you produce?

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  • Rajeev1

    Seriously. Why don’t you just get a job ?

  • Margaret Miz

    The underlying idea is valid, but the applying terms “consume” and “produce” to learning turns my stomach. These are economic terms relating to objects – manufacturing, sales, budgeting, and profit – not people. I am a physical therapist. it reminds me of when facilities that provided care for the developmentally disabled started calling their residents “consumers.” This was supposedly kinder than the terms previously used, such as mentally retarded and spastic. But “consumer” as we now use it implies the ability to choose between alternatives. It was a cruel joke when applied to a severely disabled child, trapped in the rigid contortion of their own body, without the ability to learn the most basic physical functions, participate in any kind of abstract learning, or communicate.

    I think it is no accident that the use of this term, as applied to these individuals, coincided with the rise of gigantic corporate rehabilition companies, which sprouted like weeds to take advantage of changes in Medicare reimbursement in the early  90’s.  Similarly, the term “productivity” became paramount in the management of rehab professionals, who had always had “compassion” at the forefront. The ability to process a lot of patients and quickly churn out paperwork
    with the correct verbiage and codes to get maximal payment eclipsed the
    ability to relieve suffering, even for non-profit organizations. When rehab therapy became very profitable, not only did greedy corporations jump to get their hands in the pot, the character of those who were attracted to these professions changed. People started to enter the profession because they could make a lot of money at it.

    Terminology and language do affect our thinking, feeling, and relationships. Productivity is a measure appropriately applied to the making of
    objects. It cannot measure subjective experience, healing, or the
    effectiveness of a human interaction. Thinking of ourselves in these terms only advances the prevailing view of ourselves as machines and of people, nature, the world as a collection of objects to be used and “consumed.” Please don’t encourage this. It is how the world got to be is the mess it is in.

    • To me, the measurement in productivity is in how much has been produced. 

      While I do agree that the terms ‘consumption’ and ‘production’ are largely used in economics; I also know that words are not exclusive to any field. I’m free to use them as I feel as long as my idea is understood. After all, communicating ideas is the purpose of language. 

      • Margaret Miz

        Point taken.

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  • phillchill

    I see your point and like your questions. Agree that we need way more learning by doing instead of just passively taking in. Have a look at this http://blog.bmwguggenheimlab.org/2011/12/good-ideas-are-not-enough-thieu-besselink-on-how-change-happens/

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