Fifty years ago, most people were ignorant about healthy dietary choices. It was an impossible task, for the average Joe, to discern between proteins and fats, complex and simple carbohydrates. But fast forward a couple of decades and nutrition principles are obvious even to children. The same cycle, apparently, is about to repeat. The vertical, however, is different this time around and we have a metaphorical source of food to deal with. Welcome to the information era, where we consume content!
With vast libraries of content being created daily, our lives are densely filled with opportunities to consume information on every corner. Each device and platform is geared towards content consumption, and there is a garden variety of options to explore.
And while knowledge is the key to personal improvement, it becomes increasingly hard to resist the temptation of click bait titles, YouTube videos and news shared on Facebook ad infinitum. It takes both discipline and strategy, to finally approach content as we approach food – a fuel that is necessary, but also toxic if taken upon momentary whims.
What is the risk of impulsive content consumption?
Platforms nowadays are designed to capture your attention. The line from checking your notifications to mindless scrolling can be rather thin, and it is easier than ever to be lost in a sea of content.
Without discipline and the willpower to resist, your time will be kidnaped, and your attention manipulated in service of ad revenue, engagement, or simply wasted as a collateral damage.
You will become reactive, without focus, surrendering completely the control over your most precious commodity – time.
Here is how to consume content the smart way
I will share a list of principles and strategies, developed through years of trial and error on how to consume content. As you will notice, most of them revolve around a single concept – intention.
My wife is a psychotherapist, and I’m an avid meditator, so intentional living is one of our biggest priorities. To achieve intentional living, however, is to resist every impulse, and act only upon pre-meditated choice. Consuming information, as you might imagine, is one heck of a temptation. So here is one way to approach it…
Consume only saved content
The interesting podcast, the useful article, and the entertaining video are all going to remain on the internet. Why hurry to consume something when you can postpone the experience for tomorrow, when impulsive behavior is out of the equation?
Each platform has a bookmarking capability, and saving content will finally put you in control. Before you hit the save button, you will have to make a decision – an intentional decision.
You can label, organize, and highlight your saved content, creating a personal library. This is also an opportunity to differentiate between entertainment and learning. One study published in The Journal of Depression and Anxiety has found that mindless scrolling through Social Media is not only a waste of time, but an actually harmful activity.
Let’s say that you want to lose inches off your waist or learn how to eat healthy. If you save a piece of content and read it the following day, your commitment will be much greater than consuming it right away.
If possible, use a different device
The more intentional you make this entire process, the better. So, instead of consuming content on your work laptop, or your mobile, buy a cheap tablet and use it only for content consumption.
Remember how we go to the kitchen in order to eat dinner? Well, the same applies here – you need a ritual.
What are the benefits of this approach?
First of all, you are the one controlling the wheel. No more click-bait, no more fear of missing out, and no more following rabbit holes on YouTube.
You will also be able to measure your content consumption. Once you come back home from work, you can open your bookmark list, be that on Facebook, YouTube, or your browser, and select one, two or three pieces of content.
At the end of the week, some of your saved pieces will remain unopened. This is how you measure the minutes and hours that would have otherwise been wasted.
So let’s wrap this up. Saving content, labeling it, and consuming it on a different device will help you remain in control of your time. You will become less reactive, and you’ll enjoy your content even more. Intentional activities are always more rewarding.
Slavko Desik is the editor-in-chief at Lifestyle Updated. He writes about personal development, home fitness, and smart living. Working together with his wife, who is a psychotherapist, his mission is to highlight the healthy ways of living a balanced and fulfilling live.
Erin shows overscheduled, overwhelmed women how to do less so that they can achieve more. Traditional productivity books—written by men—barely touch the tangle of cultural pressures that women feel when facing down a to-do list. How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.