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Media Consumption Diet

Published 6/2/2015

Today's episode is all about media consumption, and the importance of slowing down and being more intentional about what we consume.

This episode is sponsored by Intuit. Check out the developer sandbox and API explorer at http://intuit.me/DevTea to get started building apps for millions of small business today!

Transcript (Generated by OpenAI Whisper)
Hey everyone and welcome to Developer Tea name is Jonathan Cutrell and today I'm going to be talking to you about putting yourself on a media consumption diet. How many tabs are open on your browser? I've probably talked about this in the past because we talk about focus on this podcast quite a bit. Take a moment and look at your browser. If you are currently on your phone, how many apps have you opened in the last hour? How many articles do you think you try to read in a given day? I challenge you to track it. I challenge you to take one day or maybe two or three days and count how many articles you actually visit on that day and also count how many you actually complete. In other words, how many do you actually read all the way to the end and also how many are you actually retaining information from? Perhaps you like me coming contact with way too many articles in a given day to be able to consume them and digest them. Not only do I not have the time to consume and digest them, but a lot of the time the content that's in them is the intellectual equivalent of junk food. So today I want to talk to you about how do we fix this problem? We have so much content. We've talked about this on the show plenty of times, but we have so much content that's coming in to our eyes and into our ears and it's buzzing all around us. In fact, so much that there are multiple sites that try to give you digests of this content, that try to filter the best of the best of the best. And those are good sites, but ultimately this comes down to a personal sense of awareness and a personal choice to intentionally consume content instead of constantly consuming it passively. So why is this so important? Well, just like anything else you do with your time in a given day, it is worthwhile to explore how you spend your time. And it's also even more worthwhile when you consider the fact that what we are exposed to has an effect on the way that we act, what we are exposed to has an effect on our perspective of the world. I recently watched a fantastic talk by Avdigrim, which will be in the show notes. It was called the Soul of Software. And in that talk, Avdig talks a little bit about this idea. Specifically, he mentions a study in which people were exposed to words that were suggestive of old age, like gray or old. That same group of people was then asked to walk to a different room to answer some more questions. And they have, they had a control group that was not exposed to the words that suggested old age. And it was found that those who were exposed to the words that suggested old age actually walked slower to the second room. What does this say about our content consumption? Well, it says that even subconsciously when we are exposed to certain types of content, we have a propensity to react even in some ways that we might not be able to understand or predict. Therefore, we should be very intentional about the content that we are exposing ourselves to on a daily basis. So I'm going to give you a diet plan today. You can consider me your personal trainer. I realize this is a little bit cheesy, but every day when you consume content, just like when you consume food, you should have a plan. You should be doing it intentionally. And so hopefully this will help you remember that tomorrow before you start reading that article that somebody posted on Facebook that really has no value to your life. So step number one for this diet is to simply create your decision framework for what content you want to prioritize. In other words, does it provide the value that you want? If so, save it. Save it to read at some point. If not, have the guts to move along. Have the guts to say no. Now, just like a regular diet, of course, there are times when we watch things that are completely stupid, just because it's fun to watch. It is totally fine to have that as a part of your diet every once in a while, just like it's fine to have dessert, but don't eat dessert for every meal. Spend the bulk of your energy reading and consuming content that you want that is good for you that is valuable to you. Don't mindlessly consume content. That's the equivalent of eating chips while you're watching TV. Why are you even eating those chips because you're watching TV? It's just mindless consumption. So make sure that you create a decision framework and every time you come across a piece of media that you are considering reading through or listening to or watching, consider if it's adding value to your life and if it matches the framework that you've set out for yourself to determine what things you should be consuming. The second step is to simply determine your daily input limit or your daily input rate. Even if you have a mountain of great, really high quality content, there's only so much that you can input in a given day. So how much do you want to input in a day? You can't read everything. You certainly can't retain everything that you come across. So what does this look like in practice? Well, it might mean that you create a limit to the number of links that you put in pocket or whatever it is that you use to save links to read later. Maybe you're reading list on if you're using iOS reading list. If you set a limit to the number of links that you can save, then perhaps you will create a more consistent structure for saying no to those links that you don't need to read. We are overly optimistic about how much we will read later and we forget that we've added far more to our list of things to read later than we are actually consuming and we'll never be able to actually consume all of it. So if we only add the highest quality items and we leave the rest out, then we actually have a hope of finishing reading some of those articles. We actually have a hope of not having 500 useless tabs open in our browser on a given day. I'm going to take a quick sponsor break and then I'll come back and give you two more tips for creating a media consumption diet. You've probably heard of QuickBooks and you might even use QuickBooks every day in your small business, but did you know that QuickBooks has an API? Into it has built the API with developers in mind using standards like OpenID, OAuth and Rest API calls and with millions of businesses already using QuickBooks, you've got a customer base that's ready to use your app and you can even publish your app on apps.com into its application marketplace built specifically for QuickBooks users. And here's the best part of the QuickBooks API and apps.com. It's all free and to it doesn't take a royalty share from the applications that you publish. You can get up and running in just a few minutes using the developer sandbox and the API Explorer. Just go to developer.intuit.com today to get started. There will also be a link in the show notes to let Intuit know that you're a developer to you listener, which is a huge help to the show. Check it out in the show notes on developertea.com. We've been talking about media consumption and putting ourselves on a proverbial media consumption diet. I'm going to give you two more steps, but let's go back over the first to before we continue. First, make sure you create a decision framework for what content you want to prioritize. The second is determine how much content you can reasonably expect to read and digest and retain usable information from. Number three is make reading podcasts listening video watching and all other media consumption and intentional activity, not a constant activity. What does this mean? It means set aside time for your consumption. Don't do it constantly. Don't do it while you're at lunch and when you're hanging out with your friends and also while you're working. Don't put your podcast over to the side or your YouTube video over to the side and try to work with it in the background. It's just not going to work. Your brain cannot focus on more than one thing at a time. If you're constantly consuming, you're not actually going to get value out of the things that you're consuming. You might think that you are learning through osmosis that somehow you are exposing yourself to this content and it's just going to sink in somehow, but that simply isn't how it works. You have to focus on content in order to learn it. You can't do more than one thing at once, even though it feels like you can, you can't. So to get the most out of your reading or your podcast listening, I would recommend doing it when your brain is not actively engaged with something else. Now, the only caveat to this is that I have been able to exercise effectively, especially when I'm doing something like cardio, I have been able to exercise effectively while listening to podcasts. I found that it's a little bit more difficult to read while exercising, but I can listen to podcasts and audiobooks while I am on the treadmill or on a elliptical or something like that. I think the reason for that is simply because your body is doing something that it has already stored in muscle memory. It's not intellectually having to engage with the form. You've already memorized that form and you're just going through those actions kind of subconsciously and your conscious brain is engaged with the content that you're consuming. In some ways, you are still setting aside time to consume that content, but even better than that, I would challenge you to even better than that. Consume your podcasts, consume whatever it is that you want to read for the day in a session. Do it explicitly, set aside time to do those things, only those things and focus on them. You're going to get more out of it and you're going to be able to finish things more often. This is obvious. If you've set aside time where you aren't going to be interrupted to do something, then nothing's going to interrupt you. It's all up to you and do you have the discipline to focus on that content long enough to finish it? Now, my fourth and final tip for you on your intellectual diet journey is to set goals that require focus. And this one's the hardest of all four. Set goals that require focus. Have you ever looked at somebody who reads 50 books in a year and wondered how in the world they do it? I'll give you a hint. They read the whole book. That's it. That's the trick. They read the whole book. There's not a secret formula to this. It's not something that you're going to find in some kind of hacking article, life hack article. It's very simple. We have to take the time to focus on the content that we are reading. And that means removing distractions, set goals like I'm going to finish this book this month that require you to focus. And when you sit down to read or consume any kind of media, you will focus on that book. And that's a good thing. Because as you train your brain to focus on a book, you are training your brain to be able to focus in general. You can actually focus on a book. Then you can actually focus on the work that you're doing. When you sit down to code, you can actually focus on a conversation with another human being. Train your brain to focus by setting goals that require you to focus, especially when you are consuming media. Thank you so much for listening to this episode of Develop Ratee. I want to hear about your media consumption diet. I want to hear about how you have figured out to read more and retain more while also having more focus. If you have a tip or if you have a story about how you have learned to focus and how you've learned to cut out the noise, please reach out to me on Twitter at at Developer Teaor you can email me at developertea@gmail.com. Don't forget to check the show notes on DeveloperTea.com where you'll find a link to vote for Developer Teain the 16th annual net awards. Developer Tea was nominated for podcast of the year. If you like to go straight to voting, you could go to bit Lee slash vote T that's b i t dot L Y slash vote T all lower case. Thank you so much for listening and until next time, enjoy your tea.