Media options have exploded exponentially in the last ten years. There are literally millions of sources of information available to us online and offline.
Attempts to stay on top of even the smallest fraction of these produces waves of anxiety and days filled with distraction. We must take control of our media consumption, or, as with overeating, we will become unhealthy and ineffective.
It’s time to go on a media diet!
You won’t lose eight ugly pounds or become more attractive to the opposite sex, but you will find greater focus in your work and greater calm in your life. Here are the diet’s five simple steps:
MEDIA DIET STEP ONE: Make a list of what you eat
Every good diet begins with writing down what you’re eating. This diet is no different.
Make a list of all the media input you consume, online and offline. Magazines, newspapers, email newsletters, blogs, RSS feeds, podcasts, whatever. Write down everything.
I was shocked when I did this at how long a list I had and how impossible it would be to digest all that I was putting on my plate. It almost made me sick!
MEDIA DIET STEP TWO: Decide on your main meals
Now it’s time to limit yourself to three square media meals a day.
From the list of the media you consume, select a handful of reliable resources that provide the nourishment you need for personal and professional growth. These are the things you’ll read, listen to, or watch from beginning to end every day or every week.
Choose well, because a handful of options is all you get. And, again, it’s about what feeds you the most, personally and professionally.
For me that’s a daily newspaper, a magazine or two, a blog or two. That’s it.
MEDIA DIET STEP THREE: Limit your snacks
And, yes, any good diet allows for snacking. But snacking should be kept to a minimum for the media diet to work for you.
Return to the list of the media you consume and select another handful of reliable resources you’ll quickly scan for headlines and highlights.
Like most diets, this where we tend to cheat, downing gallons of ice cream late at night or bags of chips between meals. And, like most diets, this is where media consumption gets out of control, checking Facebook every 15 minutes and searching You Tube for another goofy Gangnam video.
First, because there’s no nutrition in these snacks, and, second, because it’s keeping you from focusing on what’s truly important. I snack on another magazine and newspaper, some email newsletters and a blog or two.
MEDIA DIET STEP FOUR: Eliminate everything else
Finally, get rid of everything else. Eliminate them from your menu by unsubscribing, unbookmarking, flagging as junk mail, and tossing out everything else.
MEDIA DIET STEP FIVE: Try new foods occasionally
It’s boring eating the same foods all the time, so the media diet allows for variety.
If a new resource gets your attention, give it a try. Sample it as a main meal for awhile, or enjoy it as snack food. If it’s good, add it to your list. If not, get rid of it. The price of any addition, however, is subtracting something from your list, so choose well.
It’s Not an All-You-Can-Eat Buffet
Media consumption should be viewed like eating food. We cannot, and should not, consume media like we’re at an all-you-can-eat buffet. We’ll gorge ourselves to death.
We must, however, eat the right kind of food in the right amount, both meals and snacks, to be healthy and strong.
Technology makes a great servant but a terrible master in this regard. Media distraction will define our life, and not our highest priorities, if we don’t deal with these distractions in a disciplined manner on a daily basis.