Consuming Better Content

Changing your content consumption habits could be part of the change you’re looking for

Straight up, I want to feel better about myself and my habits.

I have a goal to make better use of my time, especially the time I spend online, and one of my strategies for doing so is to consume better content

Consuming better content is as much about moderating what you watch as it is about actually finding higher-quality (by that I mean better-suited) content. The less real-world value the content has, the closer I rate it to “junk food”.

Similar to improving your eating habits, I don’t think many people really succeed by ditching all the junk at once and eating only boiled chicken and spinach (although I bet this is attempted quite often). I presume that most successful life changes do not come from “crash diets”, but instead hinge on gradually reducing the consumption of bad foods and replacing the “junk” with healthier choices over time.

I’m not a machine or anything (unless this is all just simulation, in which case we are all machines anyway), but I’ve been trying to make it a point to limit my “junk food” content intake and keep the stuff I engage with more on the healthy side.

According to Statista, the average social media user spends up to 147 minutes on social media, per day! How much of that do you think is a valuable use of time? (rhetorical).

Since it got cold, I wound up back in the habit of long-scrolling social media, reading articles that I don’t actually search for and that otherwise might not even interest me (using Chrome’s “discover” tool for example), and watching the world turn into a dystopia via YouTube. This seems to be what I do with my phone when I’m bored (especially while I’m “watching TV”).

I don’t know about you, but I end up feeling sort of bad for the time I spend this way – with hardly any real value gained. I prefer to invest my extra time on pet projects, hobbies and music, or learning more about running my business. The thing is, I don’t really get a lot of “free” time, so it sort of kills me to feel like I’m wasting it.

So, I started thinking about how to optimize (or even just “moderate”) my content intake – how to eat a little bit healthier, but for my brain.

And I came up with a few ideas that seem to be working for me. One of which (maybe ironically) is simply turning all content off for a period each day.

The idea of a digital detox might be easier said than done sometimes, I know. But unplugging for a bit has its benefits:

  • Reduces eye strain
  • Spend time on other hobbies
  • Can even help your mental health
  • If you have trouble sleeping, too much screen might be the reason

If you’re looking for something to do when you “unplug”, I recommend reading or going outside for a bit. Or, if you want, try the Big Activity Book for Digital Detox.

With two young kids at home, every day from about dinner until their bedtime, I try to dedicate that time to them. 

This means they get my attention and I’m not just scrolling through my phone looking for little hits of dopamine. I also feel much better bonding with my kids than not, so in every way, this chunk of time is a win for me.

Another thing that seems to work for me is recognizing the times when I am just filling the boredom gap. This is similar to what my Oma used to say when I was asking for a snack; “are you really hungry, or are you just bored”?

When I catch myself on social media without a reason I immediately re-evaluate whether I’m there to do something or not. If not, I try to set a small goal to either find something worthwhile or to finish up and close [the app] in the next minute or so. 

Part of this is because we manage social media accounts for some of our clients. For that reason, we try to make good use of any time spent on these platforms. 

Of course, the caveat here is self-discipline. 

I’ll gladly make an exception for news like one of my favorite artists putting out new music like Miami Nights 1984 – hard stop – I’ll go check that out. 

The best thing though, is just to avoid content that is “junk food” as best as I can. And also, throwing a walk or a few pages of a book into the mix somewhere, too, can add up and make a difference over time. 

Besides, coming back to the screen after a break makes you feel refreshed and prepared to do something productive once again.

Controlling your consumption habits is the key to any kind of tech diet you can think of. The more I use technology as a tool and not as an “escape”, the happier and more productive I am, and the less I actually feel like I need a break from it.

Next time you’re feeling a little overwhelmed or like you just can’t get a break, try unplugging for an hour or two. Your phone, computer, and TV will probably still be there when you get back.