A reader recently wrote me this email:
I’d be very interested in a blog piece from you on how you prioritise what content to read/watch/listen to. There’s so much out there, and it doesn’t stop. You seem to balance a very busy job with significant content consumption and some healthy time off.
Curious as to how you do it without it becoming a major distraction.
The key word for me in that email is “prioritise” because it suggests a system in which I conciously decide what content is most important to consume.
The truth is pretty much the opposite. I don’t have much process, system, and organization in my life.
What I do have is routine and I use that routine to set and keep priorities.
This blog is a big piece of that routine. I post an audio or video piece every Saturday so I want to check out audio and video that I think the AVC readership would be interested during the week so I have something to post.
Similarly, I need things to write about and reading what other people think and write about is quite helpful to me in figuring out what to write about.
I have several dozen friends who are always sending me things to read or watch or listen to. Many/most of these people do not work in tech but are hyper-curious and have great breadth of interest. They are my most valuable source of content and inspiration and I have cultivated these relationships over my entire adult life. This was not calculated or planned. It is just happened.
Most importantly, I do not allow technology to drive what content I consume. I use Twitter but drop in and out of it occasionally to get a taste. I don’t drink from it’s fire hose. I let Google Now send me alerts but I understand they are filter bubbling me and mainly use it to make sure I see certain things. I have a Facebook account but have not actively used it since they went hostile on Twitter almost ten years ago.
Maybe some day technology will be able to do for me what humans can do, but today it is the exact opposite. Technology shows me things I already know about. Humans show me things I don’t know about.
I have a very strong bias to read/watch/listen to things that I know nothing about. I can go deep if I need to but I would prefer to be a mile wide and an inch deep in terms of what I know about.
I wish I read more books. I can’t read business books. I find them dull and boring. I love novels and read them when I can but I maybe read five to ten novels a year. Books are the biggest casualty of the current demands on my time.
We also don’t watch a lot of TV in our home. I like to watch live sports and often wind down with sports before going to bed. But we don’t binge on Netflix or anything like that. This provides us a lot of time for other things.
So that’s how I approach content consumption. It works for me. I don’t know if it will work for you. This is not a recommendation as much as an answer to an interesting question from a regular reader.