Let’s talk about mind share. Mind share is the amount of attention and mental energy that you can devote to something on any given day. It’s also what marketers, advertisers, different interest groups and people in your life fight to gain control of day-in-day-out.
You may be asking why all these people are so interested in slices of your particular mind share. To answer that question we need to know first how mind share works.
The easiest model to explain why mind share is important, is to think of it as the sum of your resources – your attention, your focus, your concentration, your willpower. And as you know, as these resources deplete throughout the day, so does the mind share you can allocate to any one thing. In fact, if you’re thinking that mind share sounds a bit like FOCUS, then you are right – they are both things you have a limited about of every day, and they are both things that marketers and others want to hijack and monopolize – all within the confines of your own mind.
So how and why exactly do marketers fight tooth-and-nail over mind share?
Here’s an example:
Very simply, it’s a big world with a lot of competing messages going on. The more mind share an interest group can get, the more prominent its message becomes.
How the Battle is Waged
Ever notice how when you get up in the morning, you’re fully alert, very creative and can usually bring your full attention to whatever you need to?
This is because all your inner resources, creativity, focus, concentration and willpower we talked about earlier, get restored and renewed with a good night of sleep.
Over the course of the day, these resources are consumed through work, stimuli and just the act of doing things. One of the biggest drain on these resources are the conflicting messages you get from the world around you, each battling for mind share.
You have marketing messages. Consumer products. Hunger, your cell phone, Facebook, shiny new objects… all these things are actively working to first get your attention and focus, and then inject themselves into your mind and longer-term memory.
The reason for this is that mind share is the magic behind advertising and branding. When you see something a lot of times, you start to think about it and notice it more and more. And whenever you see something that is similar, your mind triggers off all the associations you have stored. This is called your Reticular Activation System (RAS).
A good and commonly used example of this is when you buy a new car – you suddenly see that new car everywhere.
This is the exact reasons why in retail stores, one of the most hotly-contested spaces is that at children’s eye-lines – companies want to conditition kids to recognize their brands from a young age… so that they keep on consuming them as they grow up and become adults with spending power.
Want to see this in action?
Here are a couple of examples that may trigger associations for you:
You’ll notice that in these examples, both brands have successfully established mind share in your mind – through the use of advertising, marketing, and through others spreading their message for them.
So what does this all lead to? What does it have to do with productivity?
What most people fail to realize is this – a lot of things compete for our attention, but only some of those things are good for us… and not all the things competing are equal.
If we understand the mechanism behind RAS – that repetitively thinking about something leads us to more and more of it, we can understand why this can be a problem, or a powerful productivity hack to use to our advantage.
For example, most people find watching television more attractive than reading a non-fiction book. This is because television has established a large mind share in most of the population. And yet we both know, targeted non-fiction reading is better for our development in the long-term.
A lot of young people will happily spend $1,000-2,000 on a night of bottle service in Las Vegas… and yet balk at the idea of paying that much for professional training to improve their career.
You can see where this is going – we all want to do things that are good for us, so we need to work on establishing mind share for the messages and things that help us, not hamper or impede us.
What You Need To Do to Protect Your Interests
Battling for control of your own mind share all begins with actively filtering what makes it into your mind. All the noise, the extraneous marketing, the things that you don’t really need and that don’t help you in the long-term all need to be filtered out.
If you want to keep your motivation, attention, willpower and other internal resources high and targeted towards things that help you, you need to block out the distractions.
This can be as simple as starting by reducing your news media consumption, and your social media usage. It can be spending less time in front of the television.
The other side of this is to get focused – to actively pick what your mind consumes, and therefore what makes it into mind share. You want to fill your mind with useful information – articles like those from this blog. Information that you read in business or non-fiction books. Ideas that you get from people who are doing exciting and charged things with their lives.
And where does this all lead to?
It leads to being focused. Being productive. Being self-disciplined. It leads to being acutely aware of what gets to lay a claim to your mind share and what does not. It leads to a life that of your own design – not one that is the bloodied battleground leftover after marketers have waged their wars.
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