How to Cut Down on Consumption (and Create More Instead!)

It seems that no matter how early I get out of bed and start working for the day, I never have enough hours to accomplish everything I want. Time goes by so fast, so I’m constantly on a mission to figure out how to get more productive time out of my day.

And while I’m getting better at turning social media notifications off and avoiding the alluring temptation that is Netflix, one theme has stood out to me lately: consumption vs. creation. 

With my desire to get more done and create more cool stuff, I have to ask myself: how much time am I spending consuming something someone else has made instead of actually creating my own stuff? 

Blogs and newsletters are my weakest link when it comes to consumption, and I can’t imagine I’m the only one who struggles with this. So in the last couple of weeks, I’ve been making a huge effort to cut down on how much time I spend reading other people’s writing and projects. I’ve come up with three quick questions to ask myself in order to let that blog or newsletter go for now.

Question one: Does it bring you joy?
The next time a newsletter lands in your inbox or a new blog post shows up on your feed, ask yourself if it brings you joy. 

When I started paying attention to this, I was surprised to figure out how many blogs I subscribed to that didn’t bring me joy anymore. Instead of feeling excited and curious to read the new post, what I felt was more like a sense of obligation to read it. As if it were a requirement rather than a bonus in my day. 

I noticed that this feeling was happening mostly with others bloggers and online entrepreneurs that I’ve been following for over a year. I kind of felt like since I had followed them so far on their journey already, I had to keep following them. 

But with this new mentality, not anymore! If their writing wasn’t lighting me up when I read it, I unsubscribed. It cuts down on my consumption and frees me from that unnecessary feeling of obligation. Plus, ask any serious blogger and they’ll say they prefer an audience that’s fully engaged with them anyways.

Question two: Do you need it right now?
I cannot count how many times I’ve read a blog post, newsletter, or tutorial just because I’ve thought it would maybe, possibly, potentially be helpful for me in the future. Take online courses for example. I would love to create an online course one day, probably 6-12 months down the road. So I’ve read a few blog post series now on creating a course from scratch right through to launching. 

But do I really need this information right now? Nope! I’m not currently working on an online course, so all this particular consumption is doing is taking up valuable time and brain-space for no good reason. If it’s something I’m sure I will benefit from later, then I bookmark it or put it in my Pocket so I can find it when I do need it. 

Focus only on what you need to take the next step for the project you’re working on right now.

Question three: Will it help you create something today?
I’m subscribed to 38 different blogs on Feedly, and that’s after I’ve unsubscribed from a bunch of blogs over the last two weeks. I realized that I had fallen into the habit of checking Feedly for new blog posts pretty much every time I was about to start working on a writing project. What a massive time-suck! 

If I spend an hour or two just reading other blogs, I’m losing a lot of time where I could be creating instead. So I’ve got to remember that my priority for today is to create something. If that blog post is going to help me create something new today, then I can read up without regret. If it’s going to motivate me, light me up, and help me work today, I’m all for it. If it’s teaching me a valuable skill I can put to use immediately, then that’s awesome. 

But if it’s not going to help me create something today, why am I reading it?

I’m sure you can agree that it’s way too easy to get caught up in consumption mode and think the time is valuable because you’re doing ‘research.’ Really though, experience is the best teacher so commit to learning as you go instead. Here’s the kicker: you won’t ever be proud of how much you consumed that was made by others. Go make something amazing that you can be proud of instead.