Our lives are saturated with content. We are constantly bombarded with information from social media platforms, social groups, news sources, the newest trends and influencers. There are far too many things trying to fight for our attention.
Where should busy entrepreneurs look when seeking out new sources of information? What sources should you prioritize—general news, industry-specific news, podcasts, social media influencers, video content creators or bloggers? And what about content that is not business-related? How should you optimize your intake of content related to your hobbies, recreational interest groups and entertainment events? And what about staying connected to your network, to old friends and acquaintances?
Here are my top five tips for balancing and optimizing content intake:
1. Prioritize between need and want.
In today’s fast-paced world, the temptation to spend time reading content that doesn’t directly help us achieve our goals is always there. There are many reasons why this happens. One is that we’re curious about what’s happening in the world and want to stay informed. Second, we enjoy learning new things and expanding our horizons.
Even though it’s natural to want to read about current events and scientific breakthroughs, keep in mind that a successful businessperson also needs to know a lot about their field. News articles, books, journals, blogs and other content related to your industry could help you discover new concepts. Industry-related content can also shed some light on other entrepreneurs’ experiences and enable you to learn from their mistakes.
Thus, I recommend scheduling two separate time slots—one for reading the content you need to know as a business owner and one for reading content pertaining to your other hobbies. When you schedule time for reading daily, treat it like an appointment with yourself, whether it’s five minutes or an hour. Because reading requires your full attention, you’ll also need to keep yourself free from distractions and avoid multitasking.
I recommend reading industry-related news at the same time every day. For instance, reading during or right after breakfast will reinforce the habit. Any industry-related updates could be helpful as you socialize with other people in the field or make business decisions later in the day.
Reading about your interests and hobbies should be done when you’re free from work constraints. The best time would be at the end of the day, as you’re winding down.
2. Identify your preferred style.
We can’t take in everything, so before deciding which news outlets to follow, think about the content style that appeals to you most. People have different preferences for getting their news and information; some like reading online or in print newspapers, while others would rather listen to the radio or podcasts or watch videos online. There is no one right or wrong answer here. Instead, you should learn in a way that works best for you. Once you know your preferred style, you can start picking your news sources.
One strategy is to seek fact-based publications. Look for proven authoritative writers in their fields and those who don’t express any bias. Additionally, you should only consume new content that is credible, relevant to your field and up-to-date.
3. Curate a mix of formats.
While you may prefer to read for an hour, the brain and eyes can get exhausted, minimizing your information absorption. Other avenues, like listening to the radio, a podcast or a YouTube video, can complement the knowledge gained from reading while giving your eyes a break. Try listening to a podcast on your commute or watching a short video during your lunch break or while you work out.
4. Focus on one topic of interest.
To get the most out of your reading time, zero in on something that piques your curiosity, then learn as much as you can about it. Make a concerted effort rather than a series of unrelated ones. In your allotted time, add in reading books, getting expert opinions and listening to a conversation related to that topic.
5. Socialize sans screens.
People are often the source of both new information and new opportunities. However, the only way to reach them is to engage with others. Even though many people dislike those who socialize for their own gains, consider merging activities you like with socializing.
For example, if you enjoy dancing in clubs, you can use dancing to meet new people. If you’re into arts and crafts, meet new people at art shows and fairs. While playing golf or going sailing isn’t likely to introduce you to any cryptocurrency experts per se, you may still meet some fascinating people who can teach you something new.
If you’re feeling apprehensive about meeting new people, try connecting with friends first. Even attending a couple of your friends’ events can help set you up with a potentially fruitful connection or put you in touch with others who could be of assistance.
Managing the information you want to keep tabs on can be a full-time job. As important as it is for a businessperson to keep abreast of developments in their industry, staying on top of current events and expanding one’s expertise in areas of personal interest are also priorities. These five expert tips can help you balance out and optimize how you consume content.