You want to improve your marketing and business acumen. You read articles, blogs and books, listen to podcasts, trawl social media and watch clever videos – yet still feel exhausted, knowing you haven’t made a dent in your reading list.
So when everywhere you look is “must-have” content, how do you work out what’s most pivotal to consume?
Here are my top tips for how to work out what to focus on to get the most out of your content (and out of yourself).
Does it energise you?
There is content that drains and content that energises.
The influences you place yourself under (by consuming their content) have a tangible impact on your outlook and wellbeing.
Of course everyone performs better when they are energised, motivated and in the zone.
Conversely, information overload, or ‘infobesity’, can cause you to become dull, think less clearly and function less effectively.
The same content may mean one thing to person A and the opposite to person B – the key is finding what’s right for you.
Sometimes a piece of content may be left of centre from your immediate line of work, but it awakens something in your brain that makes you feel alive.
This comes from opening your mind to a new world, a new concept, a whole new way of thinking. WaitButWhy.com blogs are a great example of content that’s often unrelated to what I do in my day to day work life – but the writing is so inspirational, philosophical and future-focused. It’s written in a way untypical from much of modern content we consume, that it has an effect of energising my brain in an unusual way.
Many find energy in their spiritual readings and in our modern day this is not to be undervalued, where there’s constant pressure to be up to date with the latest trends, news and tools.
Making time for content, teaching, or things that are there to energise are going to help you to get more in other areas of life.
Does it leave you feeling tired because of all the things you “don’t” do?
This is really just another way of communicating the point above – just in the negative (but hey, you may relate to it more said this way. )
Regardless of how good the “information” is, for your mental sanity content that continually overwhelms you is best avoided, particularly if you are not in a very clear and defined headspace of what you are trying to focus on and achieve.
Sometimes even the most cutting edge and powerful thoughts can be presented in a way that that makes them too intense, and give you a sense of not knowing where to start.
If you feel like you’re suffering information overload from a single source, then I advise you avoid getting caught under the trappings of it.
Otherwise, it’s going to weigh you down with a list in the back of your mind of all the things that you “should” be doing and aren’t – and that’s not going to help your productivity one bit.
Does it spark inspiration?
Podcasts are great because while reading is great, spoken word has the ability to trigger something in a different part of your brain.
The same words written on the page may have an “informing” effect, but rarely do they “inspire” in the same way.
You can read the same tips in writing, but your brain will process that differently. You gloss over it, making a mental note of that, hoping you’ll remember it, thinking you will either come back to it, perhaps you jot it in a notebook, but chances are you won’t action it.
When you listen to something valuable, it can go beyond just a point to add to your to do list. It actually deposits something inside of you. It can create inspiration, causing you to think about not just “doing” the thing in question, but dreaming about the next step and the one after that, and what “could be”. It can get you dreaming.
So the benefits of what you are consuming go far beyond “education” and lead to “inspiration” and awaken the part of you that can begin to create and imagine possibilities.
Is there one takeaway of immediate value?
If you get one actionable item out of your content then it’s good value. The key is to ensure it’s actionable. Otherwise you’ll just get more “stuff” your brain is trying to deal with and compartmentalising for later.
Not just should do – but “can do” – ie, you have the resources to do it. It’s going to make a tangible difference on your outcomes if you see a measurable impact from it.
I really like Marketing School with Erik Siu and Neil Patel because they break down the complex and highly-evolving marketing landscape into “bite-size” pieces with a clear “why” and a logical “how.
If there are defined, relevant, easily-actionable items that you want to recall for the future, I suggest you set up a tab in OneNote, Trello or Evernote, or whatever note taking solution you use (iphone Notes will do!) and jot that down, referencing where you heard it, when, by whom, and what the action step is. That way you can revisit it later when you’re in the right headspace for that item.
Does it reaffirm something that’s been front of mind?
If there’s something that’s been burning on your mind to action, to get across, to upskill in, then that’s a good way to filter out what content to focus on.
This gives you a sense of purpose in what you listen to – and moreover, intentionality of what you’re blocking in order to make space for what you need.
For example, if you decide you want to focus on Facebook Live this month, then you’ll use that as a filter to focus on relevant blogs, podcast watching video examples because you want to learn about that. You’re in that headspace. And so any action items are going to be far more relevant to you. You’ll lap it up because its in an area you want to know about anyway, and are far more likely to get value out of it – which will boost your mental and emotional state.
Will it create a shift in perspective?
You may feel stuck in a rut, and when you are, you don’t know what you don’t know.
Intentionally consuming left-of-field content can open the door to new ways of thinking and broaden your perspective.
A notable podcast for anyone feeling like they are stuck in a rut would be one Tim Ferriss did with Debbie Millman in late 2016, ‘How to design a life’. This spans beyond the parameters of entrepreneurship, marketing, growth, even wellbeing, and opens up a whole new realm of possibilities for any individual.
Learn to tap into different sources to draw from the well that is within you. It’s there – and by being thoughtful and intentional, you can develop the skill of drawing it out.
When you hear about the creativity or achievements of others, how does it make you feel?
Does someone’s creativity or achievements inspire you or discourage you? This point is primarily about podcasts and videos – where you open yourself up to being shaped by the spoken word you allow into your life.
Are they coming from a place of genuinely wanting to share their knowledge and experience with others to help them succeed, or is it shameless self-promotion talking about how good they are, and how they’ve made it?
Are they generous with their information genuinely expecting nothing in return – or is there the subtle expectation that you’ll engage their business services or follow them on social media?
Are they there to impart onto others? Or to shamelessly self-promote and have a one-way converation?
If you’re not wowed by something – and your gut will give you the heads up in about a minute or two – don’t bother listening to it any further. If you’re not captivated and drawn to it, move on. Life is too short to read drivel or listen to an uninspiring podcast!
I have my trusted sources from whom I regularly draw from and for me they are credible and useful. Thus, I will allow myself to open up to different perspectives because they have trust and a positive track record with me.
Sometimes I experiment with a new theme or topic, and discover a new presenter in a field of interest and I can tell within a few minutes if someone is egotistical, or flying by the seat of their pants, with little to no idea of what they’re talking about – and just jumping on the bandwagon just because it’s the thing to do.
Finally, do you have a balanced diet?
Many of us take some time to think about what we put into our physical bodies, through meal planning or identifying what foods we want to eat more/less of, so that we have more energy, feel better and have healthier bodies.
We decide what we want to eat, and when – how often we allow ourselves to indulge, and base it around what is realistic for our lifestyle – at home and at work.
You may decide you wish to have a generous amount of veggies, adequate protein, perhaps modifying certain food groups based on what your short, medium and long-term health goals are – including any special supplements as required. Plus those “sometimes” foods like party food, treats and desserts.
To do this involves being intentional about what we consume and when, writing it down, and creating a plan to implement it so as to create the greatest follow through, and therefore best health results.
We can apply the same principals to our diet of content. First of all we become intentional about what we want/need to consume, design a plan for how we are going to do this, and implement it by creating a pattern for what a healthy content diet looks like.
You’re not at the mercy of whatever lands in your inbox in the morning – which could take you in any direction and sap valuable time and energy away.
This way the power to control your content intake rests with YOU. You decide how much you consume and when, ensuring you get your essential nutrients, and following the principles listed in this article.
For example you may liken industry best practice, trends and education to fruit and veges (needing daily intake, varying in season and according to taste), inspiration to protein (essential each day, but not normally the highest group in quantity), occasional entertainment or trash (treat food), and sometimes laser-focused info on a particular topic in a particular season (supplement).
Your time is precious. Your energy is priceless. Spend it wisely.
If you are established in business, have a message to share, and you are ready to take your position as a trusted authority, but not sure how to start, grab my book Becoming a Respected Thought Leader: The Ultimate Guide for Experts, Entrepreneurs and Business owners.
In it you’ll learn exactly what it takes to deliver high quality, thought-provoking, action-inspiring content that will position you as the go-to expert and keep your audience coming back to you for more!