I often say the best bloggers are the best readers – you need to consume mass amounts of information to understand and write with authority. But with unlimited content at our fingertips, it’s easy to get so overloaded with junk information that you never stop to create your own content.
Over the years as a reporter and social media consultant I’ve pursued and developed different strategies to manage my content consumption in order to become a more mindful, focused and productive content creator.
It’s been at the forefront of my mind recently as I’ve been teaching a series of blogging workshops and personally juggling a heavy travel and work load. I thought I would write a series of blog posts outlining a few of my strategies.
Tip No. 1: Start the Day Creating Content, Not Consuming
Everyone writes differently, but most great writers and teachers will tell you that the morning is the best time to write and making it a daily habit is critical to success.
This is even more crucial in the modern information age when it’s as easy as picking up your smartphone to start consuming junk information the second you wake up. I’ll be the first to admit it’s a daily struggle for me to postpone checking my iPhone for the latest email, Facebook or Twitter updates before I even get out of bed.
Clay Johnson, author of “The Information Diet, A Case for Conscious Consumption,” an outstanding critique of modern media consumption, says the most important advice he can give anyone is to start the day with a producer mindset, not a consumer mindset:
If you begin your day checking the news, checking your email, and checking your notifications, you’ve launched yourself into a day of grazing a mindless consumption.
Starting your day as a producer means that your information consumption has meaning: the rest of the day means consuming information that is relevant to what it is that you’re producing.
Johnson’s advice is to write 500 words before you eat breakfast, check your email, head to the gym or do anything else. This not an easy task. Ernest Hemingway lived by the same goal, and writers such as Jack London and Stephen King claimed to write several times that much seven days a week.
You don’t have to be an aspiring novelist for this practice to make sense. Waking up as a producer rather than a consumer of content will have a positive impact on your media consumption habits for the rest of the day, Johnson argues. Rather than mindlessly surfing the web and grazing Facebook status updates, you’ll start the day focused on getting the content you need to produce.
Curbing my junk media consumption is a major goal of mine, but there is one thing I like to do before writing in the morning. My day begins first with the practice of meditation, which I think has even more of a positive impact on my wellbeing and productivity throughout the rest of the day. And that will be the subject of my next post on Mindful Blogging.
How about you? What’s your ideal morning routine to start the day right?