How many times a day do you consume content? It could be in any form — posts on Instagram, chatter on the radio, the news on the waiting room TV, do you have any idea how much information you consume a day?
Here’s another important question for you: how discerning are you about the information you consume? Are you a ‘Content Connoisseur’ — carefully curating the information and energy you allow into your headspace? Or (excuse my french) are you more of an ‘Info-tart’?
Most people would never dream of eating donuts and fries five times a day, yet they have no hesitation putting junk into their brain five — or 105,000 — times a day. Not only is this non-stop consumption eating up your precious time and zapping your energy, it’s also cluttering up your mind and causing you to walk around with a bloated parachute inside your brain.
The solution? Stop wasting your precious time and energy on mindless unhealthy content consumption that’s causing you to feel overwhelmed and overloaded. And instead use that precious time to share your gifts with the world, launch your dream business, start your non-profit, do yoga, meditate, surprise your partner for a picnic dinner date, teach your kids how to grow their own food, etc.
There’s a level of consumption that’s healthy, inspiring and entertaining. But today the average person is going way beyond this level. No one seems to be talking about this, but I’m not afraid to stick my neck out and speak the truth: it’s time for a radical new approach. It’s time for you to become a Content Connoisseur.
How to become a Content Connoisseur
This is a concept I invented to protect your precious headspace from an endless stream of clutter and stimulation. Becoming a Content Connoisseur is about preserving your mental bandwidth by being highly discerning about the information you consume, no matter what the form.
I’m not saying you need to abstain from content entirely, or that everything you consume needs to be “high brow”. (Sometimes an episode of Suits or Younger at the end of a long week can be the most relaxing way to spend a Friday night!) Instead, I’m simply advocating you become conscious about what crosses your eyes and ears.
Here’s how to upgrade your habits and become a Content Connoisseur:
- Become aware of the content you consume in any form. It’s easy to not even notice that there’s music blasting at the cafe where you’re working, or that you’re mindlessly staring at the billboard while you’re out walking the dog. Awareness is the first and most important step.
- Take steps to minimise mindless consumption. You only want to consume information when you choose to, not by default. So, for example, if you’ve been listening to music on the radio while driving, make sure you always switch it off before you turn the car off. That way, you’re not bombarded with noise as soon as you turn on the ignition the next time you’re driving somewhere. If you choose to switch it on, that’s fine. But you want to be conscious of the choice. Also don’t just have the TV or radio on for ‘background noise’. This is programming your subconscious mind, be mindful of what you consume.
- Identify your Content Blackholes. Where are you most likely to get lost in a time-suck of content consumption? You know the feeling: it’s when you decide to “quickly” check Instagram, only to lose yourself for a whole hour. Or when you decide to watch “just one” episode of a TV show, only to find yourself a few hours (and 7 episodes) later in a full-blown TV coma. Take a moment to figure out when you’re most likely to slide down that slippery slope — What time of day is it? What location are you usually in? Are there any key triggers you can identify?
- I’m a massive fan of healthy boundaries so put some into place to prevent those Content Blackholes. Determine what is and isn’t okay for you, and set a boundary accordingly. For example, ‘On weeknights, I only watch 2 episodes of TV’ or ‘I only pick up my phone after my morning routine and MIT’s (Most Important Tasks) are done’. You might need to get strict with yourself here at first, but soon it will be second nature.
- Create white space. Way too many of us fill up every single spare moment with content consumption. It’s time to break that habit and reclaim some peace for your brain by deliberately choosing to cultivate moments of white space throughout your day. The next time you’re standing in line at the checkout, or sitting waiting for an appointment, observe how strong the urge is to check your phone. Give yourself permission to just be in those moments… you’ll be amazed at the ideas and insights that spring to mind when you’re not dowsing your brain with a firehose of information all the time.
- Poop in peace. Tell me truthfully: when did you last visit the loo without your phone in hand? For way too many people, the answer is, ‘I can’t remember!’. Stop filling yourself up (with information) while you’re emptying yourself out. Gift yourself those 2 (or 20!) minutes to just sit and poop in peace.
- Eat in peace. Do you eat and watch TV or eat and scroll social media? When you are doing anything whilst you are eating your body is not fully relaxed and therefore can not digest your food properly. Put down your phone, turn off the TV and just eat in silence or have a conversation with the people at the table with you.
- Make a conscious choice about your news and media consumption. Remember it’s mostly one sided and the average person spends 2 years of their life consuming the daily news… are you comfortable with that amount? For many people, it’s important to stay up to date with the state of the world. But reading five different news websites each day, or obsessively refreshing your Twitter feed every hour for the latest updates might not be the best use of your time… only you can be the judge of this. If staying abreast of the news is important to you, I recommend putting healthy boundaries in place. For example, “I read 1 newspaper with my breakfast and that’s it.” Choose quality over quantity, and think of ways you can consolidate your consumption. One uninterrupted hour per week watching a top-notch, no biased journalist dissect the news and both sides might give you more food for thought than haphazardly scanning the headlines 3 times a day, 7 days a week. And if you find yourself getting stressed out every time you watch the news, it might be time to give yourself a break. Sometimes (most times) switching off is the best thing you can do for yourself and your mental health.
- Keep it lean with a monthly clean. Be a conscious curator of your social media feeds and email subscriptions. Only follow accounts and subscribe to content that’s adding real value and joy to your life. Follow accounts and subscribe to people that inspire, motivate and uplift you. I do a ‘clean up’ of my feed once a month to keep it lean, clean and uplifting..
- Gratefully unfollow. Whenever a post crosses your feed that makes you feel upset, angry, triggered, that’s not relevant to you, or that doesn’t align with your core values, unfollow. Be grateful that your intuition is letting you know that this content isn’t for you. And be gracious in your exit — no need to make a fuss; a quiet unfollow will do. This isn’t about sweeping your triggers under the carpet, this is about being discerning about the content you allow into your sphere. You get to choose what you allow in and out.
- NEVER consume two streams of content at once. Watching Netflix? Fine. Own your choice, enjoy your time, and remain present. Do NOT pick up your phone and start scrolling through your Insta feed at the same time. This is just adding clutter on top of clutter and it’s NOT healthy for your brain. Instead of doing two things half-assedly, pick which one you want to do and focus your attention there.
I hope these 11 tips are useful for you.
Please add any you may have in the comments below so we can create a long list together.