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Don’t Be Paralyzed By Media Consumption in 2011

“I will be a producer, not a consumer.”

Late last year a friend shared this resolution on Facebook. It caught my attention as being a great resolution that I think every entrepreneurial blogger could do well to have.

Have you ever been paralyzed by consumption?

As I write this post, it’s 11.49 a.m. on Monday morning.

This morning, I returned to my computer after a weekend off with the intention of jumping into some solid blogging. My plan was to start early (8.00 a.m.) and whip out at least five posts this morning and to start work on a report that I’ve been planning to write in the afternoon.

That was the plan, anyway…

The reality is that I’ve been quite distracted. It started on Twitter (I should never switch on Tweet Deck that early in the day!) with a link that a friend sent me to read. That link led me to another, and another.

This morning I must have read 20 articles and blog posts, scanned 100 or so feeds in my feed reader, watched ten videos, spent a good hour scanning my Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook feeds, spent another 30 or so minutes in forums, tested out a new plugin, and … well, you get the picture.

Everything I did was related to blogging and my business. It was all interesting. Some of it was even helpful, and gave me ideas I may not have otherwise had.

However, until right now, I’ve not actually produced anything at all today. This morning has been about consumption rather than production.

Is consumption evil?

Don’t get me wrong—there are times when you need to consume.

We all know that our bodies don’t function properly if we don’t eat well. Cars don’t run well without consuming petrol. Consumption is necessary.

We all need to consume to survive in a physical sense. In the same way, as bloggers we need times when we take in the ideas of others, and are informed by what others are saying—time when we soak in the latest trends and information in our industry.

There are also times where we just need to switch off from work, and consuming something fun and mindless can be good for us, too (anyone for Angry Birds?).

However, many people live in consumption mode to the point where they don’t produce anything.

I’ve lost count of the times I’ve chatted with bloggers who have the following problems:

  • not enough time to post, but plenty of time to aimlessly surf the web for fun
  • too many distractions, whether they be Angry Birds, Farmville, Twitter, Youtube, or something else
  • feeling the need to read every other blog in their niche for fear of missing an important development.

I suspect a “consumption” mentality is one of the reasons that many of us get to the end of a year and wonder why we didn’t achieve any of the grand plans that we had.

Consume to produce

Let’s return to the example of our bodies. The main reason we consume food is to gain energy—to take action. We eat so that we’re fueled to do.

The danger with food arises when all we do is eat and eat, and we don’t actually burn off the energy the food gives us. Consumption without some kind of action to burn off what we consume leads to obesity. And my experience is that the same advice applies to running an online business.

There’s nothing wrong with consuming what the Web has to offer, but take the approach of consuming to energize your own action and production and you’ll be in a much healthier space than if you’re simply consuming for the sake of it.

I resolve to be a producer, not a consumer, in 2011

As we enter into a new year, I wonder if perhaps we need to do something concrete together to get us on a path to production in 2011.

I don’t want to get to the end of this year and look back on the year as being one where I read a lot of articles, played a lot of games, and read and made a lot of Tweets…

I want to get to the end of 2011 and be proud of the fact that I’ve:

  • created things that mattered to myself and others
  • inspired others to better themselves
  • added to conversations instead of watching others talk
  • made the world a better place in one way or another.

I resolve to be a producer, not a consumer, in 2011. How about you?

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Denise Krebs says:

    Darren, great challenge. I like the resolution your friend made and your expounding on it. However, I agree with some of the comments above–consumption is good. We need energy and revitalization by reading others’ posts and even spending some time playing with new applications. I had already made a resolution this year to not get distracted on the Internet until after my morning walk, writing my 750 words, http://750words.com (Very cool place to start your day with a brain dump. It gets you ready to produce!) and after a full day of teaching! I have become much more productive as a result. Now I have new words for my resolution: “I resolve to be a producer first, and then rejuvenate with adequate consumption.” I don’t want to suffer with Google Reader obesity.

  2. “Consumption without some kind of action to burn off what we consume leads to obesity. And my experience is that the same advice applies to running an online business.”

    Well said. I needed to hear this. Not full blown, but I’ve been walking on the tracks these past few weeks. Thanks for taking the time to “create” this post.

  3. Christine says:

    I have not been a consumer until I came upon your blog. Yours is the most interesting blog I have seen so far. I also started checking out some of the blogs of the people who are commenting, and they too are incredible. It’s 2:00 AM and I am still at it.

  4. I agree with you. I have started to think of it as an absolute evil – one which I love. So many people sharing so much good stuff. I think the secret is to select one’s “mentors” and to be disciplined in only reading their stuff. Then each day to allow a little browse time – with a time limit! Also, as you so rightly point out – prioritise – get the important stuff done, be first the producer and then the consumer so that you tomorrow may be a better producer!

  5. Colleen says:

    Hi Darren,
    that was very tastefully written and I came away with some good advice and respect for what you had to say. At first I must admit I expected it to be one of those post from a highly successful blog encouraging others to cut back on their blog consumption which often reads as “Forget the small guy I am all you need.” but I was pleasantly surprised. Thank you.

    I actually do think that I fall into this trap far too often or at least go delete delete delete but feel like I might be doing myself more of disservice than a favour. I agree that reading other blogs gives me lots of food for thought and also frequently generates a spin of post of my own. Therefore it is not always a lot of time wasting, nevertheless I do feel I need to cut back and you have made me feel better about doing so. Thank you again.

  6. TJ says:

    There are days where I get absolutely swept away in the world’s most tempting buffet of data. Thank you for this post. I will try to remind myself to keep a balance between consumption and production! I think Geraldine is right about discipline and choosing mentors. I always thought about it as my personal lack of focus. It’s pretty easy to self-sabotage on the internet, click-click and you’re instantly off-task. Best wishes from germany, tj

  7. Greg says:

    Hey Darren, I definitely agree with you on this point!

    However, my question is: Don’t we as bloggers depend on consumers reading our blogs for our livelihood? I can see how as an entrepreneur you would personally want to focus primarily on producing, or consuming to produce as you said, but wouldn’t you want to encourage everyone ELSE to consume what you’re writing?

  8. Vance Sova says:

    Hi Darren,

    If one wants to make resolutions yours and your friend’s is a great one. I will adopt it myself as a daily guide.

    We all prefer to consume it seems at the expense of producing. It just comes naturally or we were conditioned to it, which is more likely.

    It’s kind of a relief that you too can get caught up in it sometimes. It’s a relief to know that even someone as productive as you gets distracted.

    All work and no play is not healthy either. I wonder what ratio of consumption to production would be the best.

    How about one to ten?

    Cheers,
    Vance

  9. Em says:

    Hopefully not every reader will get this :)

  10. Eric Johnson says:

    This is just so true. It’s easy to get caught up in reading the news, blogs, etc. Then add your comments, argue with other posters, etc. I’m in that rut too and need to get back to producing. It’s my 2012, 2013, and 2014 resolutions….

    I might get to it this year. ;-)

    Eric

  11. Darren,
    I.ve been blogging a short time and found myself buried in information, and yet I couldn’t seem to produce much. Last week I was ready to give up the idea of producing a blog. Then I found a free ebook I had saved on my flashdrive. It is Leo Babauta’s Focus: a simplicity manifesto in the age of distraction. You can download it at http://focusmanifesto.com/

    He writes that technology has created an overwhelming distraction that we must learn to harness by developing good habits to replace the default ones we use. Then I read another author that suggested writing down your activities every 30 minutes and place a potential dollar value on each one. So I decided to tweak these ideas and create a new plan for myself.

    Starting at 5:15 am I write down the time and activity I am doing. When I switch activities I write down the new time/activity. I keep my notepad and pen right in front of me so I am reminded to write things down. At the end of the day I can see how successful I have been to substitute productive habits in the place of wasting time only consuming. The sheer act of writing down the activity makes me feel accountable and encourages me to keep focused on things that will lead to my success.

    Would anyone like to join me? I’d love to know what other things people are doing to stay focused.