I’ve been trying to consume less in order to learn and create more. I’ve made good progress shifting from consumption to education, and here’s how I’ve done it so far.
The first step I took was to prune back who I follow on Twitter. I was following way too many accounts to keep up with, some people I didn’t even remember why I was following them. I took the time to go through my whole list and unfollowed a large majority of accounts. To take it even further, as I noticed high volume accounts in my stream, I unfollowed them. If the tweets were something I might still be interested in, I added them to my lists.
Do away with guilt reading
I decided to get rid of Instapaper. I found myself saving countless articles that I then felt like I had to read. If something was really that important, wouldn’t I think to seek it out again when I had time? I ended up coming to a happy medium where I now save anything I might want to come back to on Pinboard[^1]. I made sure to not use any “read later” tags as well to avoid just moving my “guilt reading”. If what I’ve saved is actually important or useful, I will remember and come back to it.
Remove extraneous sources of news
Next up was my news/article sources. I tackled this by unsubscribing from newsletters, pruning my RSS feeds2 & podcasts3, and removing most news apps from my phone4. It’s amazing the echo chamber we tech nerds get stuck in, and it was actually refreshing to get away from some of that. After a while, I found myself unsubscribed from all email newsletters (except for one5) and aggressively deleting podcasts/podcast episodes that were not interesting. I also trimmed my RSS feeds down to 28, many of them being low volume feeds.
More thoughtful consumption
Now that I’ve freed myself from feeling like I have to consume media, I can make thoughtful choices about what I read. I’ve been reading more books and spending more time developing skills.
I’ve also found it helpful setting myself certain times of day when I can look at certain things like Twitter, RSS, news, etc. If it’s not within one of those windows and I find myself going for my phone, I open up a book (or even a Wikipedia article6) or do some writing.
Thoughtful consumption has been working well for me, and I hope to continue and make refinements along the way.
- I use Pinswift on iOS (adds a Share Sheet button and can automatically grab a nice link description for you). ↩︎
- I use Feedwrangler and Reeder to manage my RSS. ↩︎
- Overcast is my favorite iOS podcast client. ↩︎
- NYT Now is the only one left. I have a digital subscription so I don't have to worry about the paywall when I read more articles on my iPad (usually on the weekend). ↩︎
- I still really enjoy the Quartz Daily Brief, even with the release of the Quartz app. ↩︎
- For some excellent ideas on ways to read/use Wikipedia on iOS, check out Gabe Weatherhead's excellent article. ↩︎