Consuming Content is a Slow Killer

The constant desire to consume new media is something that follows me everywhere. As a web developer, it feels like a part of my job to always know how everything on the internet works. To know what the latest tool, social network, ad platform etc is and to be in tune with how it all works. On a personal level, this is one of my least favorite parts of web development. The feeling that I need to be “in the know” often leaves me feeling like I have not gained anything useful.

There seems to be an insatiable urge to view new content and I definitely fall into that pool at times. This urge can be detrimental to personal growth in my mind. This urge to consume content leaves you with no time actually learning a useful skill. That is why I am trying to cut out the fat that comes with being a web developer.

My goal is to focus on only consuming content that actually applies to what I want to better myself in. It has come as a huge stress reliever. Instead of trying to have my fingers on the pulse of everything I am keeping my fingers on the pulse of a few things. This may seem irresponsible of a web developer but I am not paid to keep up with every new thing to come on the market. I am getting paid as a developer to deliver websites that perform well for my clients 99% of the time. This reduces the scope of what I need to know and learn to get better. My clients don’t care if I know of every latest technology, they want a functioning website. The point is, we can make a choice. You can consume useless information on a daily basis, or you can consume information that benefits your work.

Consuming content comes easily. It feels as if I am doing something rather than nothing…but that’s flawed logic. In reality, consuming content all day gives me nothing to show any potential client. I find that it can be too easy to classify mindless Reddit time as something useful for my work. or inspiration. Instead, I can spend my time learning how to make my own CSS grid system. I can then use that on every project to increase my productivity.

This is a bit of a battle cry to all developers out there. There is so much content to consume. I do not think we do enough reflecting at what kind of impact it has on productivity. Does reading tweets from famous woodworkers make you a better woodworker? I am sure that actually working with wood day in and out and ignoring the content buzz will go way further. There is much the internet can teach us but there is also much the internet can do to delay our efforts. It is a careful line we need to walk. Keeping our fingers on the pulse of what is the latest and greatest can be useful but it should not be your daily focus. Your day as a developer should focus on becoming a better developer.

Combating this urge to always consume media, I am giving myself some constraints. Putting limitations on your day can bring out great results. First is what I listed above, I am no longer going to go consume information that is not useful to my profession. Second, I am writing on a daily basis reflecting on what I did and what I did to better myself. When you use this as a reflection tool, it can make you value your time spent in a different way. You may find that you did nothing and sat on Facebook all day. This tends to make your brain realize that nothing useful comes out of browsing Facebook. I don’ want to hear a word about cat videos.

At the end of the day, this is a self-control issue that a lot of us have. It is easy to fall into old patterns and do what everyone else is doing. It is much harder to shut that out and to hone your craft. The amount of content we consume on a daily basis has increased with the internet. Our eyes and brain have become used to scrolling past content endlessly. I am trying to train my brain to not expect that activity. I am trying to train my brain to expect activity that will stimulate growth and knowledge. Again, this all comes down to self-control. Some people can manage their schedules and time very well. I struggle with putting in long days without breaks for mindless internet content. There is a true benefit to simplifying your daily routine and honing your craft. We live in a time where there are so many new tech companies, social networks, and computer languages it can make your head spin. Keeping up with it is impossible.

For a moment, think about an expert you respect. Do you think they spend all day on the internet or consuming media? I bet they spend very little time consuming content. They have priorities when their time is so valuable and social media is not one of them. Being bombarded with more daily noise than ever, it can be hard to not get lost in it as time goes on. It can be difficult to stop and evaluate where you are, where you want to go, and what you are doing to get there. If you can do that, and cut out the fat to your day, I guarantee you will be in a better place.