Where Does The Time Go?
There have been a few articles and posts circulating on my Reader this last few days on the same general subject of reducing the amount of time we spend consuming content and increasing the time we spend being creative.
My Internet Marketing Mentor Ed Dale talked about it in a recent blog post where he mentioned making a switch from Consumption to Creation and acknowledged it was a deviation of the source, a tweet sent out by another marketer by the name of Darren Rowse.
Just the other day this was follwed by a short post by another of my online heros Seth Godin called In and Out in which he said ‘How much time and effort should be spent on intake……….. And how much time and effort should be invested in output ………..
I’m sure he chose to use ‘spent’ and ‘invested’ quite deliberately because generally speaking, most of the time we spend consuming content is ‘wasted’. This is particularly true of TV and Gaming but let’s be honest the world has no shortage of possibilities if we’re looking to waste time.
Now I’m a great believer in ‘all things in moderation’ and we all need to wind down and chill out now and again, that can be beneficial. The danger lies in the ease with which it’s possible to be lulled into spending hours of every day passively consuming worthless content that is forgotten instantly and adds nothing of any value to our lives. Seth highlights the fact that the availability of options online is ‘infinite’ and I’ve been guilty of falling into the trap myself. I’m lucky enough to have an iPad (By the way did you know that Apple have sold 14.8 million of them in 9 months!) and of course I ended up downloading a selection of ‘Apps’ to give me access to content. I had an RSS Reader, Twitter, Facebook, Instapaper, Safari Browser, E-Mail, a couple of online magazines, some e-books, a PDF reader, BBC News………… Each of these seemed really valuable on it’s own but combined they conspired to eat up huge amount of time. The whole point of an iPad is to make it easy and indeed pleasurable to consume online content and by the Gods it does that incredibly well. In my defence I don’t own a television and therefore felt less guilt using the iPad in this way but wasting time on an iPad rather than wasting time watching television is just as bad!
I can’t blame the iPad, it’s just a tool and I’m now beginning to use it far more productively particularly with regard to writing. The freedom it offers actually allows me to be creative in places I wouldn’t use the laptop and the recent addition of a wireless keyboard has increased it’s use.
I’ve now cut right back on content consumption, deleted apps that weren’t essential and generally become far more concious of how I’m spending my time. It might seem a little anal but tracking time has helped me identify where the time wasters were. I use RescueTime on my Mac which monitors what activities you’re doing and automagically generates a report each week. I can tell you that the first few week were a real eye opener. It’s the ‘can’t manage what you can’t measure’ rule again. Measuring my time showed me clearly where the timewasters were and allowed me to make adjustment to reduce or eliminate them.
I’ve still got a long way to go with this not least in replacing this wasteful consumption with valuable creativity but I make little adjustments most days and I’m moving in the right direction.