3 ways to balance consumption and creation
Consumption isn't entirely bad, but an unhealthy amount is. Moderation is key.
This November, I'm challenging myself to write every day. You can read them all under the "Shorts" category, where each post should be around 500–1k words. Think of them as "less polished" than my usual longer blog posts. This is Day 11.
Consumption is what we consume, and it can be the consumption of food, social media or other forms of content. In this case, we'll be discussing media consumption. Creation is what we create, whether it's writing, building, or making something. We must consume to create so that we can gather inspiration and references. So, consumption isn't entirely bad. However, an unhealthy balance is not good either. I find that if I don't strike a good balance between consumption and creation, I feel listless as if something is missing. Or perhaps I just needed a break. Here are three ways to balance the two.
It's not fun, but time-blocking does wonders. Remember how we used to follow timetables in school that we had to stick to? Time-blocking is like that, but you're in control over what you put in your schedule. It helps to remove a layer of decision making from your day so that all you have to do is stick to your schedule as closely as you can. Remember to allow some flexibility because sometimes things might not go your way (and that's okay). I started time-blocking on my calendar early this year, and I can honestly say it's been a game-changer for me. Aside from time-blocking work and meetings, I recently started including a block for consumption too. Treat it like a task too, rather than doing it whenever you're available. You're less likely to forget. Similarly, you can also add it to your to-do list. It may seem strange to add "Read (article name)" to your list, but it puts everything into perspective for the day and balance them with our to-consume tasks. Plus, it's a great productivity hack.
What are you consuming? Are they contributing to your goals? Evaluate them, and try to be selective too. How much are you consuming? If you're going down rabbit hole after rabbit hole on a certain topic for inspiration (or even necessity) but you're mindful of it, I think that's still okay as long as you're aware of it. But think again if you're consuming to procrastinate or numb certain emotions. When you have enough, remember to take breaks. If you start to feel lethargic as a result of information overload, then it's probably time to take a break or time to start creating from what you've consumed. Usually, when I'm tired, my autopilot instinct is scrolling mindlessly on social media. That's when I know I need a break. Using social media is fine, but if you're misusing it, you can easily get sucked into it. Tip: Curate your feed to only follow the people that you can learn from. Consume with the right intent. Being honest with yourself is also equally important, but do so in a non-judgemental manner if you do catch yourself over-consuming. Be curious and reflective — What makes this content so interesting? Or is there something underlying that I'm avoiding? Am I only distracting myself from something else?
Experiment to find out what works and what doesn't. If it doesn't, refine your strategy again. If you find that it isn't working out for you after a while, try something different. But keep experimenting until you find something that sticks. Only by experimenting and trying different things will you figure out what's the best routine for you to get a balance of consumption and creation. For example, creating a routine by dividing one of them in the day and the other at night. Or alternate days to create and consume. Personally, I didn't find alternating my consumption and creation in days helped, but at least I tried anyway.
We consume a lot, but most of our consumption is low in quality. Being intentional can be hard sometimes, especially after a long day, so be kind to yourself if you don't happen to follow through. It happens. Moderation is key, so whenever you can, try to lead with intent and have a healthier balance of consumption and creation!