This morning as I was doing my standard Instagram scroll, I got fed up. I love following other's on Instagram, but it's so easy to get lost in the app for hours. Before you know it, one post turns into five or one Instagram story turns into ten. I love that the internet has connected me to so many random people, but I know I could be better about the amount of consumption I do daily. Today, I wanted to sit down and make a list of things I could do to consume less and create more. I wanted to share those with you because I can't be the only one struggling with this.
If you are a millennial like me or a member of Gen-Z, you've probably grown up consuming content on the internet. I consumed content before I ever thought about creating my own on the internet, and those consumption habits are hard to break. I have a feeling that we can break those habits if we put some thought behind what we do every day, though. This blog post isn't about using the tools that Instagram or your phone has in place for limiting consumption. Those tools are cool, but I wanted to dig deeper than that on this post. So, let's get started!
Here are eight ways I am going to be more intentional with my time so I can stop consuming and have more time for content creation. I hope that you will also do these things so that you can create more in your everyday life.
1. Stop Falling Victim To The Infinite Scroll
Raise your hand if a quick trip to Instagram land in the morning has ever turned into an hour-long binge on what everyone is up to? 🙋🏽 I have had some of those mornings, afternoons, evenings, and late nights. The infinite scroll is a technique that all your favorite sites use from Instagram to Twitter to Reddit. There is always something. And to be fair, there probably is always something you haven't seen. We often follow hundreds of people, and if you follow a lot of bloggers, that's a lot of content to keep up with.
Instead of falling victim to the infinite scroll, limit it. Instead of watching all the Instagram Stories, say you'll watch the stories of five creators right now. Don't press the first story you see and let it run. Instead, be more intentional about picking the stories you want to see. Which creators do you love watching? Watch those people, because if you let Instagram pick for you, their answer will always be more stories.Be more intentional about picking the stories you want to see. Which creators do you love watching? Watch those people, because if you let Instagram pick for you, their answer will always be more stories. Click To Tweet
2. Be More Intentional About Leaving Comments Over Liking
I am so bad at actually leaving comments. Liking media is so much easier than being a part of the conversation. A double-tap is always going to be easier than reading the caption and coming up with a response. But, double-tapping isn't creating, it's consuming. When you take the time to engage and leave a comment, not only will you make someone's day, but you are also building a bond with that person.
On the creator side, leave content worth commenting on. Sometimes I'll scroll forever, mainly because the captions on some content isn't giving me much to work with. We don't need another piece of content with song lyrics. We need substance. So, create content with substance so that we can leave actionable comments. I know I have to be better about seeking out content with substance. I know there are creators out there who create content that matters.
3. Unsubscribing From Email Lists That Offer No Value
My inbox is a hot mess. Do I have 9,000 unread emails? Maybe. When I say it's a mess, I mean it's a mess. I need to do a massive unfollow spree in my inbox. I love to use Unroll.Me for this, but as you can tell, I haven't in a while.
As a content creator, it can be challenging. I think I am added to like a new email subscription each day, or at least that's what it feels like. I've been added to so many random PR lists, but not the good kind that sends me makeup, the kind where I get sent random press releases about anti-aging and political messages I don't agree with. It's exhausting getting all these emails. Then the follow-ups on follow-ups. I get tired of it all.
So, let's strive to do better about what we consume in our email inboxes. If you're like me, Inbox Zero will probably never happen, but maybe we can be more purposeful about who emails us?
4. Stop Checking Feeds And Emails Multiple Times A Day
Another thing I do way too much is checking my emails and social media feeds constantly. I honestly don't even want to think about the number of times I open Instagram or my Gmail app every day. If I knew the number, I'd probably be pretty depressed by it.
I think it's a matter of checking things when I am bored and FOMO. What if a client emails me offering me $500 for a project, and I take like three hours to respond? How would that reflect on me? Would that put me in the best light possible? Well, that's why I check my emails regularly, anyway. I don't know why I check my feed constantly, though. I guess I don't want to miss out on the latest breaking news or my favorite creator's new post? Even though they will likely be there when I check later, and if they aren't, I won't know anyway.
We can't live our life being fearful that we'll miss out on the latest social media craze. We've got to be smarter than that.
5. Using A Site Blocker More Often During The Work Week
I've had a site blocker for years, but I haven't been very proactive about using it. I've only used it a couple of times since I bought it, even though it's always staring back at me. I don't know why I don't use it much. I should be putting more effort into using it daily. During the work week, I get so caught up using random sites like Twitter or Facebook when I should be working on a client project or my content. I need to set limits, and a site blocker could help me do that.
I'm striving to utilize the tools I have at my disposal more often. I have so many productivity tools around me that I could use if I took the time to utilize them. Do you have any productivity tools that you could be using more regularly, but don't? I am striving to use my site blocker, focus music, Pomodoro timer, and planner more often.
6. Creating Space To Consume Media That's Inspiring Versus All Types Of Media
I am not going to say that all media is bad media. Some consumption can be valuable, inspiring, and helpful to your life and creator journey. We can't create all the time and never consume. A big chunk of the content we generate comes from our lived experiences. Consumption is a big part of living. So, don't feel bad about the act of consumption. Instead, think about how and what you are consuming.
Could you spend more time consuming media that matters? If so, how do you bring the media that matters to the forefront? You could:
- Use Feedly to create lists of blogs that excite and inspire you.
- Create Twitter lists to aggregate Twitter users that motivate you.
- Use a spreadsheet to collect Instagram accounts that you love so you can check them daily or weekly.
Whatever you do, consume more media that inspires you first instead of falling into the news feed trap. Facebook wants to serve you content that will keep you on the site longer, not content that inspires you to create off the platform. Think about it: your continued attention is the currency of social media. By keeping you on the site longer, these social sites make more money. They don't care what you consume, as long as it keeps your attention. So, you have to be the one that makes sure your content is inspiring, not moneymaking.
7. Brainstorming And Chasing Ideas More
We all love those days when we are struck randomly with a brand new idea. I was so excited to sit down and create this blog post after a morning scroll session got me down. I was “called” to write this post in a way, then I sat down and wrote it. Here's the problem with that: it won't always be that easy. It won't always be a random spark. Sometimes you have to chase ideas. I think as creatives, we want things to be a little too easy. It's not going to always come to you in a dream. Sometimes, you have to work for it.
Instead of saying I don't know what to write after five seconds of sitting down to blog or write an Instagram caption, get creative.
- Look up headline generators
- Use sites like AnswerThePublic
- See what's trending on social media
Keep up with these ideas on paper, in a spreadsheet, or even in the notes app on your phone. Come back to these ideas during those days when idea generation seems to be difficult.
8. Devote Time Daily To Content Creation
Content creation becomes even more challenging when you don't do it daily. I know you have a million things to do as a content creator, but devoting even 15 minutes to your craft is helpful. Write part of a blog, record a podcast segment, film the intro for your new video.
We must devote time daily to hone and focus our craft. Don't slip up because content creation is challenging. You can't get better if you let yourself go days without keeping up with practice.
Once you get your routine down, focus on expansion. Preferably we are creating more than we are consuming, but that's a hard concept for most. Take it slow and shift the balance of what you are doing daily.
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Conclusion: Understand The Difference Between Consumption And Working On Your Creative Projects
Last, but not least, before we go, I want to drive this point home: consumption is not working on your creative projects. I think these lines get blurred often because working on creative projects is so loosely defined. Like, what does a creative even do all day? There isn't a job description on how to live creatively.
Consumption and creation go hand-in-hand. You have to consume some amount to create stuff, but eventually, you have to put down your consumer hat and put on your creator one. So, think about how much more you could create if you weren't checking out the latest Instagram story. What could that do for your creative business?