It was 9:00 p.m. on a Friday night.
As I returned home, the battery in my garage door opener ran out of juice and I was unable to park inside.
I knew I’d have to buy a nine-volt battery for the device at some point in the near future, so I decided to go to Target right away … which was convenient because I also needed trash bags, candles, and other impulse-buy items I hadn’t thought of yet.
While browsing throw blankets (Autumn has arrived in the Northern Hemisphere), I observed a Target staff member in the next aisle direct a woman to soap dispensers.
The customer looked at the options for a few seconds and then asked her guide, “But do you have anything fancy?”
After my fellow shopper rolled away her cart in disappointment, I walked over to view the soap dispenser selection.
There were several options that one might describe as “fancy,” but Target isn’t a high-end household goods store. It’s not the best place to look for a soap dispenser that is objectively “fancy.”
Then I started thinking about this situation in terms of how we search for content and subscribe to publications.
Just as high-quality content should be intentionally crafted to serve a purpose for your business …
High-quality content consumption is also intentional
So, what’s your daily routine online?
Do you study the right type of content that helps you meet your goals? Or do you keep reading publications that you think will help you, but you don’t end up acting on the advice they offer?
I’m not asking those questions to criticize your choices — we all fall down rabbit holes online and check out blog posts, videos, or inspirational quotes for writers that don’t contribute to our productivity.
But reviewing how you spend your time and energy is one of the most important things you can do. It helps you assess your current habits and change them, if necessary, to focus on more meaningful work.
Sometimes it just takes a little fine-tuning to get more out of the content you read, listen to, and watch.
Smart Habit #1: Don’t look for what you need at a place that doesn’t have it
Let’s say the consumer on a mission to purchase a fancy soap dispenser was “subscribed” to Target, just as someone could be subscribed to an email list.
While she was at Target, she could browse what the store actually offers, rather than look for something she probably wouldn’t find there.
So, to clarify and strengthen your content consumption strategy, make a list of your subscriptions with brief notes about the value you get from each.
If one consistently doesn’t meet your expectations, determine if you get different benefits from that publication or if it’s time to give it up.
Our Target shopper likely got other items she needed during her visit, but if she always went to Target looking for something “fancy” and left empty-handed, she’d likely stop going there.
Smart Habit #2: Unsubscribe from content you ignore
This step addresses all of those emails you open and delete quickly.
Yes, it only takes a couple seconds each time, but those seconds add up to minutes — and it’s beautiful when the emails never even enter your inbox.
Unsubscribe to emails or newsletters with advice you haven’t put into practice in the last six months.
Sometimes you like a certain publication and hope you’ll get something useful when it sends out updates. But if you haven’t acted on the content in an email or newsletter in the last six months, it’s probably not worth your time anymore.
By unsubscribing, you clear space to find new publications that you would actually engage with on a regular basis. More on that below.
Smart Habit #3: Let go of content you disagree with
Ah, content you love to hate.
It could be a guilty pleasure or unicorn vomit that makes you twitch.
For whatever reason, sometimes we get caught up in online drama that makes us angry or frustrated.
Remember that it doesn’t help you or anyone else if you leave a website fuming with the sentiment: “I’m right, and the other person is wrong.”
As Sonia wrote in The Magical Sixth ‘Ingredient’ that Can Take Your Content to Greatness:
“The internet is big. There are a lot of people here. And they come in all shapes and sizes. Whatever your beliefs, your values, or your peculiar interests are, you can find a group that shares them.”
Publications you don’t resonate with aren’t going to change their content. Click away from them.
Smart Habit #4: Reduce distractions
If you ever catch yourself saying:
“I’d like to do that, but I just don’t have time.”
… it’s a great opportunity for you to dissect that statement.
- Would you actually like to do that activity, or are you just saying you would because you think it’s something you should do?
- If the new opportunity does interest you, what are you doing instead?
- Can you reduce the amount of time you spend on other things?
After you get clear on what you want, it’s easier to spot the speed bumps that slow down your journey.
For instance, if you want to learn how to be a food photographer so you can start a new blog, but you “don’t have time,” could you reduce your social media time and replace it with the right education?
Distractions can be fun, and they’re sometimes necessary for stress relief or creativity boosts, but make sure they don’t keep you from accomplishing your goals.
Now, review how much time you can save with different content consumption habits. Even if you only find an extra 10 minutes in your day, you can choose to spend those 10 minutes on something new.
Perhaps reading fiction you love every day helps you do better work. Maybe it’s the 10 minutes you’ve needed to start meditating.
Research different resources during your newfound time, or simply rest and recharge.
Define (or refine) your content consumption strategy
When I went to Target, I had a clear goal: buy a nine-volt battery.
But I also took advantage of my time there and explored my surroundings to see if there was anything else I needed …
A new soap dispenser wasn’t in the cards for me that evening either, but I did end up getting a dark gray, knit throw blanket. 😉