Use a garden hose instead of a fire hose

3 minute read

I’ve been spending some time revisiting GTD and Inbox Zero. Several of the themes are important and in particular, the idea that your time is finite is probably most important. As I get older, my time becomes even more limited. I’m not sure how to explain this, but there it is.

As this is the case, the content you consume needs to match your limits. Trying to consume more than you have time for simply frustrates you and leaves you less time to consume the content you actually enjoy.

Be passionate about your content

When you’re going to invest your time into something, make sure that it’s something you truly enjoy. Watching movies because a bunch of anonymous strangers think it’s a great movie, listening to podcasts because they’re about a subject your care about, or watching TV shows because you liked precious seasons are not rules that you must obey. Those motivations are great ways to home in on content you might like, but it doesn’t mean you will like it.

Podcasts are probably one of the best examples to examine because they’re almost entirely free, serialized, in directories with ratings, on any subject you can think of, and are obtained easily. Your first motivation is to subscribe to everything popular or concerning a subject you’re passionate about. Remember though, your tastes won’t align with everyone else and podcasts can be drivel in spite of the subject matter.

You want to be passionate about the content itself and not just because of the original motivation to check it out to begin with.

Stop worrying losing content

The fact is, that unless something was created by you (your own blog, your photos, your paintings, your own podcast), you have no reason to archive it like a librarian. That content isn’t going to disappear off the face of the earth if you don’t consume right away or hold on it “for later”.

It’s the internet age! If you aren’t holding on to it, you can rest assured some geek, somewhere, with too much time on his hands is. Not only that, he’ll be willing to post it to a half dozen places at a moment’s notice. Barring that, everything is being put on DVD (Bluray) now. Podcast authors want to feel immortal, so their back archives will be available forever.

Discard piles

You ever hear the phrase “same shit, different piles”? That’s more true than you realize. If you’re amassing piles of stuff, there’s a reason for it. You don’t like the content. You think it’s shit.

Let’s just ignore edge cases where you’re saving it for someone else or you’re catching up.

Those 15 episodes of the latest season of Law and Order are telling you that you really don’t want to watch them. Those 100 podcast episodes sitting in iTunes are telling you the same thing (and for the love of everything holy, don’t manual refresh feeds when iTunes notices you’re not listening and stops downloading on its own). Heck, that Netflix disc that’s been sitting next to your TV for weeks as you watch and return disc after disc is dying to be sent home.

You can quickly sort out some of the stuff you have the least interest in while freeing up the most bandwidth in one shot. Free yourself as well as your DVR’s hard drive. Delete the stuff collecting in a clump.

This is not a job

Consuming your content is not a job. Don’t feel obligated to consume if you aren’t getting excited. Did you subscribe to a podcast because it was about something you liked but feel dread about playing that latest episode? Are you only listening because it’s filling up your iPhone/iPod? Stop listening. You should be anticipating the next episode, not dragging through it. Your doing this for enjoyment, not out of obligation (financial or otherwise).

I don’t know if I can stress this enough. Too many people continue to take in the same crap because they feel they should or because they’ll be left out if they don’t. Neither is true. Be Thomas Jefferson about it. Throw it away. If it comes back to through someone know or something you enjoy, it was important. If it didn’t, it wasn’t important to begin with. Save your time for the fun stuff.