Advice: Creation Optimization

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I don’t know about you, but my everyday life is a mess of cultural consumption. I wake up and almost immediately spend time on the internet getting caught up on what happened while I was asleep. On my way to work I read and listen to music simultaneously. When I arrive at work it means more internet time to catch up on what I missed during my commute. At lunch time, the internet is booted up for even more catch up. When I get home in the evening, I’m usually racing to watch television shows that I generally stay caught up with, reading through blogs from the day, and catching up with friends on social media sites. My entire day means consumption, so when do I have time to create?

This topic comes to you courtesy of a blog post by David Tate, where he outlined his own day of crazy consumption. For most of us, I think this is typical. In this digital age, we all feel compelled to keep up with things and we often bite off more than we can chew. I currently subscribe to a whopping eighty blogs, I follow 200 different users on Tumblr, and my brother and I watch at least five different YouTube video bloggers each day of the week. That doesn’t even include emails that I need to respond to each day. This is an insane amount of information — who could keep up will all of this? It certainly seems insurmountable, yet we all subject ourselves to this incoming stream of information and content.

Eventually, we have to break away and decide that it’s time for us to create something of our own. In his blog post, Tate talks about over-consumption cultivating a filtering skill that allows you to quickly decide whether something is worth your time. The internet is full of fast-paced decisions about contents’ quality, so Tate advises us to use that cultivated filter to create better content of our own. In his blog post, Tate offers up what he thinks creating does for us and how we can become better creators. Click the cut to see what Tate is talking about.

Here is what Tate says creating things does for us:

  • Let’s you filter to something you like: You can create things that please you and you only.
  • Frees you: Helps you let go of the downsides of quick judgment of others since it allows you to appreciate the absolute difficulty in making original things.
  • Makes you happy: creating is something that is core to human beings. Just watch a child drawing pictures.
  • Plays to strengths not weaknesses: Most people consume things to fix weaknesses like reading about how to better spend your money if you are bad with money. When you create it flips around and you tend to draw, write, or make movies about things you are passionate about.
  • Changes the way you think: I can’t say it better than why:

And  here are the tips Tate offers for how to optimize your creation output:

  • Cease input – turn your cellphone off, stop reading every stupid blog post about productivity, just stop.
  • Get off the popular train – teach yourself not to judge based on anything other than your own view. Stop listening to the mainstream radio or to popular music channels. Try college radio. Browse an actual bookstore for books rather than the Suggested for You or Popular sections of some website. Stop only reading popular blogs.
  • Have a system for capturing ideas – no matter where you are – a paper notebook, your phone, whatever. You think it you capture it. When you have an idea, any type, any quality, record it without judgment. Separate idea generation and filtering into two phases.
  • Put some structure around making things – give yourself some time to write, to record, to photograph, to think. Schedule a lunch break to just sit and think.
  • Change your mind about your mind – overcome common mental barriers to making things.

So why not take a day away from the internet, away from your pressing emails, and away from that guy or girl who keeps texting you. Just take a day for yourself and your creations. Write, dance, sing, compose music, paint…whatever your artistic expression is, spend more time doing that and see if your creation overcomes your consumption.

— Jet Fuel Editor, Mary Egan

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