Want to do more in your design, freelance, or any other type of work? Or have more time to create? The secret to doing more is: consume less information. Less comes in, more comes out.
Image credit: Hygiene Matters
Some people think they need more information, more resources. ‘I need to research more, get more stuff ready to go before I start on this project,’ they say. ‘If I read one more article or book on this design topic, I’ll be set,’ they convince themselves. But that’s a trap of collecting “just in case” information.
Remember: learning is a tool, a means to an end, not the end itself.
Collecting tools isn’t actually creating or doing. Using that tool to get results is.
Knowledge without action is futile. -Abu Bakr
3 Simple Steps to Consuming Less and Getting More Done
- Decide what you want to do
- Consume just enough information to plan out and get started
- Stop consuming new information and go do it
It’s all about doing, not consuming. If you want to do, create, or experience something, you get it by going out and doing it, not by continuing to read about it.
Knowledge Without Action Is Useless
If you want to build a shed, you wouldn’t spend all your time researching and collecting power tools, different types of wood, ladders, and so forth. No, you’d find one set of plans for building that shed, follow the instructions to get the necessary tools and material, and then you start building. You do, you create. You consumed only enough information to be able to start doing what you want, and then you started doing.
Image credit: adactio
Don’t collect the “just in case” information. Decide what you want to do, consume only enough information to be able to get started, then go out and do it.
Instead of learning a bunch of “just in case” design techniques, decide on the type of work you want to do, go out and start doing it (or at least getting clients or gigs), then learn the necessary techniques along the way. Utilize consumption as a tool to gain the necessary resources to accomplish your goal. Otherwise, you’ll spend most of your time gathering knowledge without actually using it. Which is a waste of time.
Knowledge without action is useless. If you don’t use the information you consume, it just clutters your head and nothing gets done.
You Have Limited Time – Use It to Get Results
The time you spend consuming is time you’re not spending creating and doing. Yes, you need certain information. How can you start doing something if you don’t know how? Of course you should consume some information but only enough to get started.
Image credit: Perfecto Insecto
You have limited time during the day. A precious 24 hours. Take away 6-8 hours for sleeping, and that’s 16-18 hours left. Take away another few hours for eating and cleaning yourself, and that’s 14 hours. A maximum of only 14 hours a day to do what you need and want with your visual and web design work. But you no doubt have other commitments: social life, family, exercise, job or business.
That leaves you with only a few hours a day to really be able to do what you need and want. If you spend most of that time consuming information, then you have no time left to do it. So instead of constantly getting new information, consume only enough to be able to create, then go do it. Otherwise, you’ll have a bunch of information stored in your head that isn’t used. That benefits no one, including yourself (you don’t get to benefit from any results you’ve created).
A Personal Story
I used to fall into the trap of consuming “just in case” information all the time. I’d spend days and days reading articles on web design, personal development, blogging, and building a business. I tricked myself into thinking I was being productive, effectively spending my time by “arming myself with useful knowledge.”
Image credit: Shekynah
But what did I have to show for it? Nothing. Nada. Zip. I was consuming so much information that I was getting lost in my own brain. There are way too many strategies, mindsets to consider, directions to take, things to work on. It’s that whole psychological thing of when we have too many choices, we end up choosing nothing. Reading all those articles did nothing for me. I didn’t have anything to show for it, and I wasn’t getting anywhere in my life. I wasn’t applying any of the information, so it was useless.
Finally, I decided to limit my information consumption. Enough is enough. I was tired of only consuming – I wanted to do, to create something. For each aspect of my life, I limited myself to only one information source. And even then, I consumed only enough of the information to sketch out a plan and the steps I need to take to start and grow. Then, I put the information away and started doing.
And I started getting results. Fast. Much sooner than I thought I would. For example: I quickly got better at web and visual design by only learning new techniques when needed. Instead of reading books on web and visual design, I simply researched how to accomplish design tweak X or visual style Y when I was building one of my websites for my electronic music or small businesses.
I realized all that information I consumed in years past was useless.It didn’t benefit anyone, since the knowledge was in my head, not some tangible thing for others to use. And it certainly didn’t benefit me, since I was still in the same place in my life I was before consuming that information.
By consuming less information, I had more time to do more. And it was easier for me to get started since I only had one resource to use and follow. I was spending most of my time doing and creating rather than consuming, which is what gets results that benefit me as well the clients and customers.
Consume Enough to Get Started, Then Go Do It
Now, consuming un-actionable information for enjoyment is fine. But when it comes to practical information, your ultimate aim is to create or accomplish your goal. It isn’t to stuff your brain with information you’re not applying.
Image credit: justin
All un-actionable information does is crowd your head.
- Consuming information doesn’t create your creation.
- It doesn’t accomplish your goal.
- It doesn’t provide value to yourself or others.
- It just crowds your head.
You get things done by, actually doing them.
- You don’t experience the joy of designing and creativity by consuming information.
- You don’t enjoy the results of your accomplishments by consuming information.
- You don’t get paid by consuming information.
- You don’t leave a legacy by consuming information.
- You do all of these things by doing, by creating.
Decide what you want to do, consume only enough information to be able to get started, then go do it. Do more by consuming less. What do you think? Has consuming less helped you do more? Let your voice be heard in the comments.