Perhaps you have spent more time consuming content lately?
I know have.
And what’s more given the current situation who could blame us.
As someone who makes content for a living what I’m about to say might not be the smartest business decision, but it’s an idea that I know has truly helped me so I hope that perhaps it might do the same for someone else out there…
My intuition says that consuming less content is better for you.
I can only speak of my practical experience, but it’s all too easy these days for your life to become one continuous cycle of content consumption.
Waking up and scrolling through Instagram, watching YouTube videos while eating meals, listening to podcasts on your commute and then all day while working. Not to mention filling every brief moment of possible stillness in your life with a quick check of emails or Facebook.
It’s an easy habit to fall into and a difficult one to break.
What’s more I’ve found that when you fall into this kind of cycle you lose your ability to focus, your productivity drops and most importantly you give up those vital moments of boredom where your mind wanders and somehow comes back with your best ideas.
Of late, with work returning to somewhat of a more normal schedule perhaps like me you’re finding yourself trying to retrain your brain back into good working routines and over the last few months my own has definitely been sabotaged by my content consumption habits.
The following idea has helped me and is therefore the reason I’m sharing it, maybe it can help you too but I in no way have the audacity to say that this approach is the only or the right way.
Over the last year or so I’ve been going through periods where I try to live my life in “Output Only Mode”…
…which in its most simple description means I am only going on social media to contribute my own content to the site and not going for entertainment purposes or to consume other peoples content.
In the documentary series “The Defiant Ones”, legendary music producer and businessman Jimmy Iovine talks about the idea that in order to be successful a racehorse must wear blinkers, the horse only needs to worry about it’s own performance and looking at what other horses are doing will have a negative effect on it’s own performance, often causing it to stumble or fall.
He parallels this idea to when you are working towards to a goal in life. You must be focused only on what you are chasing as worrying about what anyone else is doing will be detrimental.
Maybe like me you often come away from social media feeling depressed and dejected, comparing your current activity to what everyone else is doing. I’m sure much of the time your own life seems much less exciting.
I’m currently trying to re-build the habit of only allowing myself on social media between 7:30 and 8PM every night and being completely candid I look forward to it all day, but in reality when I actually do log on, I’m off a couple of minutes afterwards.
I’ve seen what I needed to see, without having to be constantly checking all day.
What’s more when I deny myself that endless stream of entertainment, I sit down to deliberately consume other content, things that are more often far more valuable. Sometimes this might be a YouTube video from one of my favourite creators, or maybe the latest Netflix documentary.
Regardless of what it is, actually taking the time to solely focus on consuming this content means I enjoy it much more and take far more away from it, than if it was just background noise to help me get through another task in the day.
I greatly enjoyed reading Cal Newport’s book “Deep Work” and I’m sure much like me your approach to your own work may well change after it. Much of this blog post has been inspired by ideas and approaches Cal presents in the book, which will most definitely make you examine your own working habits and really assess whether you are truly being effective in your working life.
So consider, do you need to switch to output only mode?
And I wish you every success,