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Active state passive state

About a month ago, I stopped listening to music completely and replaced it with podcasts, thinking that I would benefit from learning more during that time than I would listening to music. After all, music was merely entertainment to me, while podcasts are both informative and entertaining.

This bumped up my podcast time to over 2x each week and I ended up listening to a lot more interesting conversations than I was managing to do previously. And it was going this way up until this weekend when I found myself wanting to switch back to music for a while.

This was yet another lesson about slack in my schedule that I learnt again. By overloading on podcasts during my workouts and meal prep time, I was committing to over fourteen hours a day every day of active brain state where I was either consuming information or putting it to use (while writing and at work).

Previously, music would take me to a passive brain state where I wasn't actively paying attention to anything, allowing my brain to process what it had been receiving when it was in the active state, and to mull things over and gain fresh perspectives. But, by cutting that out of my schedule, I took away the slack for my brain and continued to keep it active all the time.

That's the equivalent of continuing a circuit at the gym with no break whatsoever. The more time I do it, the more I get tired and feel like I have to stop.

Just like recovery is essential for the muscles after a challenging workout, recovery is essential for the brain after a challenging workout of its own.

I've gone through these cycles before too where I've felt I can pack in more active time for the brain and change my schedule to that, only to realize a few weeks down that I'm unable to keep up and have to revert back to scheduling more passive state time.

I've always thought that there is a perfect balance that I can strike between the two, but have never been able to achieve that on a consistent basis. What seems perfect this week doesn't seem the same the next.

Now, I'm starting to think that I just need to embrace that variance and live with it rather than aim for consistency. When I feel like I can pack more active state, I can cut down the slack and pack more activity for my brain and when that gets too much, I can build in some slack and allow for a recovery. And repeat.

Come to think of it, this cycle of packing active and reverting to slack and packing active again has been a consistent theme. Perhaps, this is the consistency that I've been seeking. It isn't consistent on a weekly basis, but it is consistent over a longer period of time.

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