Acceptance for Cognitive Value (AFCV)
The following is a modest proposal (created by inventor Russell Wright of Theme Zoom) for a new definition of cognitive value and a clarification of Value Distraction for knowledge workers. Neuroeconomics may well hold the key to future value definitions and the Neuropolicy institute at Emory University is preparing other clinical studies to make the following suggestions redundant.
Acceptance - The taking and receiving of anything in good part, and as it were a tacit agreement to a preceding act, which might have been defeated or avoided if such acceptance had not been made. - Black's Law Dictionary 4th Edition
Almost all distraction is caused by mismanaged commitments. - David Allen
See also Attention paradox
There is no such thing as information overload.
There is such thing as "potential meaning" overload. Is that email a snake that will bite me, or merely a rope, or neither? (*Note: This is what makes the development of a meaningful and user-friendly search engine retrieval algorithm so profitable for companies like Google.)
It is not that you get too many emails (as an example). It is the unconscious contract you have made with yourself that is the inspiration killer. Your brain naturally has an unconscious desire to determine the meaning of new input (even useless input) and close these open psychic loops at any cost. This eventually will overwhelm you, fry your brain and break your spirit if you "Accept for Value" or "Accept as Valuable" any seemingly innocent email, text or distraction that has been placed in front of you.
You always have a choice to "not accept" new input into your Psychic RAM.
This is called nonacceptance in legalease. If you are not around to receive the court order to show up for Jury Duty, and the post office returns the request court, they pass this mind numbing (but allegedly mandatory) duty to some other poor sucker who will "accept."
The very small actions and interruption in our daily lives are made of the same substance, and you have the same choice- one of acceptance or nonacceptance for each one of these distractions.
Have you ever opened one of your emails and just the act of opening it and starting to read it sets an alarm clock in your brain - ding, ding, ding and like a bullhorn is shouts at you "By opening and accepting and reading this email HERE IS THE OUTCOME YOU HAVE NOW COMMITTED TO ABOUT THIS! AND HERE IS THE VERY NEXT ACTION STEP YOU MUST TAKE TOWARDS CLOSURE IN ORDER TO KEEP THIS COMMITMENT!"
With the very act of opening the email you have accepted for value a presumed commitment- no matter how large or small. You then presumed a position of the email's value (low or high) and "accepted it for cognitive value." Somehow you decided that the email was worthy of cognitive engagement. Then, as if that is not brain damage enough, you must determine what to do about it and what it means inside your busy and often cluttered world.
The problem with all of this is that your brain is not good at holding commitments.
It does not function well that way.
But few people really look at how deep the rabbit hole goes, and few question their Acceptances each time they should consciously do so.
We say that you should consciously do so, even if that means you slow down for a moment in order to determine where this commitment fits into your vertical view and your Vertical thinking. It is for this reason that many "time management" systems have failed, because they try to help you "prioritize" in a horizontal way things that can only be addressed vertically. Horizontal thinking is comprised of things that are almost always urgent but not important. It is only through an audit of your "Acceptance for Cognitive Value" that you can stop having a life cluttered by urgent and important/unimportant things.
Why do you feel it necessary to honor every stupid interruption and subpoena, and pay the price with your unconscious creative energy stored in your Psychic RAM?
Usually because you do not know that you are creating unconscious contracts when you create them. That distracting email seems harmless enough.
Acceptance for Cognitive Value (AFCV) is a necessary Neologism created by Theme Zoom co-inventor Russell Wright to explain the workings of the conscious and unconscious mind (psychic RAM) in relationship to open loops and unnecessary stress. This topic specifically covers attention distribution and "split attention" because it is so common in today's high-interruption/distraction technical business environment. AFCV deals with what happens to your emotional well being when your brain tries to distribute a finite amount of attention and creative energy across hundreds of tasks, projects, daily interruptions and daily communications.
AFCV is a word created to help you begin to understand something of which you are probably only vaguely aware- that every time you allow yourself to be interrupted, and every time you decide to open an email, or answer a text -you are not only making a choice with your conscious self, but your unconscious mind thinks you have "Accepted as Valuable" and signed a committed mental contract and created an open mental loop (large or small) to respond to that item. For most people who do not understand the real cause of mental stress, every open loop must be closed at some time or you cannot be truly happy. Not completing the task will generate Personal failure either consciously or unconsciously, but usually both. There is a price to pay for accepting anything from anyone- from the most trivial of emails to the largest and most ambitious of corporate projects. This cost of this cognitive contract is paid with a precious currency called "Psychic RAM" or "creative energy." This energy is almost always stolen from a bank account of creative energy that should remain invested in (and as) your higher life purpose. (See Vertical thinking).
An unconscious agreement will 'slow down' your Psychic RAM. This ties up much of your deeper creative energy. Your life is made up of hundreds of contracts (many of them useless) that you have Accepted for Value. For most of us, a "psychic contract" is "Accepted for Value" even if you do not act upon its contents right away. This is because the unconscious mind has no sense of time- past, present, or future- it thinks it should be doing everything, all the time, right now. It will eat away at you until it is done.
Therefore even when you can merely SEE the emails stacking up in your inbox unopened and unaddressed, your stress (unconscious psychic RAM) will increase exponentially.
The very fact that these emails arrived in your inbox at all (including spam) ties up your Psychic RAM by default. Now consider the fact the email is only a single context of communication in an ever growing mobile world. Your unconscious mind has "Accepted for Value" (by default and to varying degrees) anything that comes into any of your communication contexts. This is true even if you are simply deleting spam. Many people do not understand the devastating effect this has on both their attention and their creative potential.
What we call "guilt" is simply the feeling of personal failure generated by open loops caught in Psychic RAM that have been opened with the best of intentions but never closed. See David Allen.
The road to hell is paved with good intention and high ambition. - Russell Wright
You have willingly decided to accept email from this person. Or a text from this person. Or a snail-mail letter from this person. Or a phone call from this person. It is done "willingly" because you do have a choice to use stronger filters or hire someone to answer emails for you. You also do have the choice of getting rid of email altogether, but you simply believe that you cannot. The point is that "in theory" you have a choice and "free will" to accept or reject a contract when it is forced upon you. In order to be "served" a subpoena you have to be around to "Accept it for Value." Otherwise you are considered unlocatable, see? If they do not have a snail mail address to find you, they cannot use that channel. If you do not answer your phone they cannot "serve" you that way either.
You just go served! - Rapper Pimp Daddy
Do you know what happens when they cannot find you to "Accept for Cognitive Value" a court Subpoena, or a call for mandatory Jury duty?
The world goes on without you just fine, even when you are not trapped inside of facebook or your email inbox.
You have to learn to see past the choices that you do not understand. - The Oracle, The Matrix Reloaded
When you open an email or pick up the phone or allow text messages, you have signed a psychic contract that will usually limit your ability to free up your unconscious mind for deeper more creative thought. Therefore all types of ubiquitous interruptions are like the advanced monetary science and common law legal term "Accept for Value." Also, when you are engaging any of these contexts, you have signed a contract that they are more important (by default) than anything else you should be doing right now.
More important is the fact that you "accept" and "sign" many daily interruption agreements that are just as bad as any high interest credit card offers or loan scams that you find on the internet. You do not know the extent of the psychic RAM getting used up in your brain when you open and deal with things in an "interruption" mode, because like most people, you probably do not know how your brain works.
You do not have to "accept" or "open" these emails.
For the beginner, the action of simply observing the emails in thier in-box will negatively effect their Psychic RAM.
The following suggestions deal with all types of media, not just email.
If you are a beginner you may want to:
2. Keep your filters on high.
3. Delegate and outsource
4. Figure out how to use your filters and use the heck out of them- so that you never even see half of the stuff that comes in until you think of it later. Think of low priority items as "references" and have them filter directly into your "reference" drawer. If you never think about them, you were really not that interested right?
5. Turn off your phone often. It serves you less than 5% of the time.It is a false sense of security almost always.
6. Know your team. Keep a tight group of high-leverage people around you who do not waste your time.
7. Be courteous to others. Think before you send off that email, or storm into someones office. Did you take time to "CPOD" (collect, plan, organize and do) everything you need before you created more mental clutter.
8. Be careful with job-killers. (Jokes, novelties, items of unrelated interest). Not everyone enjoys receiving these, but they will seldom tell you. You may even want to type the word "Humor" or "for fun" in the subject line so a skilled organized person can know what the material is before they open it. Highly productive people will view leisure items during set times, and at no other time.
It is an amazing idea that your brain is constantly creating a contract or "open loop" and in the process of determining and Accepting for Cognitive Value- everything around you. Your brain is trying to make meaning out of many things, most of which are meaningless.
Do not make this job any harder on yourself, your brain, and other people.
Most people are unaware that they can "choose wisely" and that they are using up limited unconscious resources, because they are addicted to "doing." They also do not know the JOY and Relaxed Control that comes from knowing that every open loop sucks a bit of thier creative force and focus. Learn to say no.
Rule 1: Don't Sweat the Small Stuff
Rule 2: It's all Small Stuff
(This is another way of saying you should look at every proposed contract, commitment and potential open loop as if it were a selfish Meme and had a life of its own. It does.
Stop doing so much stuff. Or at least stop doing stuff without a clear plan.
Learn to slow down and make "conscious" what is "unconscious" for most people in your world. For each item learn to quickly ask yourself:
"Do I absolutely have to 'Accept as Valuable' this item"?
"Will this 'next action' enhance my life and contribute to horizontal mission critical energy that will help me connect to my vertical values"?
"Do I have to Accept this as Valuable?"
"Am I engaged in the Woodsman's Paradox?"
Keep in mind you have to clarify your life values (100,00 foot view) in order to TRULY know what to accept and what to reject.
The more clear you become about your highest ambitions and life goals, the more you will tend to reject anything outside of that value system. - Russell Wright
"People who do not have their own plans are destined to be a part of someone else's". - Unknown
Beware the Efficiency dilemma.
"If you find yourself in a hole . . . stop digging." - Will Rogers