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By: Sam Rios
One of the keys to being successful in PR is knowing what is happening in the world around you. Staying up-to-date on the news and consuming relevant information are crucial to becoming a well-rounded professional in many fields.
Currently, the average person consumes more information than ever before, and the platforms that provide that information seem never-ending.
Often, our consumption is based on impulse rather than calculation. Navigating the digital world without consideration of the content’s effect leaves us vulnerable to the negative effects of unhealthy consumption.
“Often, our consumption is based on impulse rather than calculation. Navigating the digital world without consideration of the content’s effect leaves us vulnerable to the negative effects of unhealthy consumption”
Consuming content can be compared to consuming food. Both have negative and positive effects depending on the quantity and quality of what is consumed. A digital consumption plan structures and guides intake in the same way that a diet plan allows an unhealthy eater to monitor and analyze what they eat and how it affects them.
In this blog, I’ll loosely lay out steps that can be used as a guide to creating a content consumption plan.
This should feel like an intuitive process because it is. We are often aware on some level of what negatively affects us, but we cannot fully understand it until we direct undivided attention toward it.
Keep in mind that the process can differ depending on your approach. The ultimate goal is to consume content in a healthier way.
An important aspect of managing your content diet is to first become aware of the sites/ apps that you go to and for how long. Luckily, most smartphones have a means of tracking our data usage and time spent on each app.
Many of our digital impulses stem from habits that often go unquestioned. Taking notes of the sites that you frequent allows for acknowledgment of habits. Simply take note of your site visits. Create a GoogleDoc, a Google sheet, or just write it in the notes on your phone. Use whatever means that allows you to recognize the way you navigate the digital world.
Label Your Habits
The next step is to decide whether the sites are healthy are not. Much like food, the healthiness of content is not simply good or bad. One of the best ways to categorize the sites is to understand the motives bringing you to the site.
Am I seeking out general information or looking for information on a specific subject?
Do I consider this time as casual or work-related?
Am I actively engaged with the content or mindlessly scrolling through it?
Keep in mind that small bits of unhealthy content may not be bad for us. Many people enjoy relaxing via technology. But if you are consistently absorbing unhealthy information, you may be poisoning your thought process. Think about it as eating a candy bar every night before bed.
Create a Plan
The third step would be to create a content consumption plan. We do not want to eliminate all of the bad from our content diet. Besides consuming information, we use the digital world to entertain and connect. If we understand the motives bringing us to a specific site and the general healthiness of the content, we can be fully mindful of the way that it affects us.
Also, keep in mind that the plan should not go into overtly specific requirements. One of the best aspects of surfing the web for enjoyment is the way that we are pulled in a thousand directions based on our curiosity and interests.
Try not to become a tyrant over your consumption. It is still important to play with the content. The goal is to decrease suffering, not to let it arise in a new form. Move through your newly set rules based on your interests and what sparks curiosity. Ultimately, freedom can be found within the limitations you set. Hopefully, with practice, you will see your content diet as a means to fulfillment in both the digital and physical worlds.