How to plant a mental cover crop

cover crop

I didn’t have time to grow a spring garden this year. I could have just let it go as a fallow playground for weeds and cats for a few months, but instead I decided to plant a cover crop.

A cover crop is one or more plants (in this case fava beans and rye grass) with qualities that feed the soil with nitrogen while they grow, and feed it again with organic material when you plow them under. So during the spring months while I was busy with school, the soil in my garden got better on its own.

Similarly, you can’t advertise to yourself all the time. I guess you could, but it would be time-consuming and exhausting, sometimes you don’t really know what you want to work on, and other times you’re just busy with other stuff. Besides, if you do it too much you risk having your own ads become part of the mental “clutter”.

What you can do during the fallow or busy times is take advantage of the delivery channels you’ve already established to throw up very easy, low-maintenance messages that inspire or nourish you until you’re ready for the next round of progress.

Benefits of a mental cover crop

Choke out the weeds

In the course of our normal lives we get an astonishing amount of input. Much of that is very low quality, or at least low value to us (spam, infomercials, sit-coms, and attack ads come to mind). Planting intentional messages in your environment is one way to counter all that input.

Provide mental nutrients

To our brains, everything is learning. So it’s important to make sure some of the constant input in your environment is nourishing to you. Because most of TBYB!’s delivery systems are set-and-forget, they can be a very low maintenance way to fertilize your consciousness with high quality input.

Stake out sovereignty over your attention

The tsunami of persuasive messages coming at you doesn’t slow down just because you’re busy doing other things. A cover crop is one way to maintain some control over your mental space, even if you don’t have time to do a full-on ad campaign.

Here’s how to set yourself up

1. Make a folder named “Cover Crop” (or something like that). It can be a digital folder on your computer, or a real paper folder, depending on how you like to advertise. An online data collecting application like Evernote works well, too.

2. Create a blank document in your folder for collecting quotes. Again, this document can be either electronic or paper. If it’s digital, name it something like “Quotes”.

3. Whenever you read something that inspires or nourishes you, take a moment to add the text of it to your Quotes document.

4. Similarly, when you see photos that inspire or delight you, grab a copy and put it in your Cover Crop folder. See How to download and print pictures for instructions, if you don’t know how. This could include photos of people who inspire you, or who care about your progress.

Before long, you’ll have a nice collection of quotes and photos that feel nourishing to you.

How to “plant” your cover crop

If you’ve been following this blog for awhile, you may have already set up one or more delivery systems for your ads.

We’ve discussed many delivery systems for photo ads. Some of my favorites digital methods are the Google Sidebar Photos gadget, Windows Vista Slide Show gadget, my computer’s desktop background or screensaver, and my mobile phone background.

Good locations for paper ads include on the refrigerator, in front of the toilet, and in your Hipster PDA.

Systems for delivering text ads include Backpack, The Quote gadget, Windows Mobile, and Wakerupper voice messages.

Any of the above methods could be quickly adapted to use the material in your Cover Crop folder. The next time you realize you’re between goals, or are too distracted to focus on a personal marketing campaign, try fertilizing yourself with a cover crop!

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