Filtering content mindfully: Starting an information diet

Mona Csada
November 8, 2021

Sometimes it feel like we'll never get away from that overwhelming sense of information overload. Between our social media feeds, email inboxes, streaming services, enticing news headlines, online ads and even old-fashioned books and magazines, we’re flooded with endless streams of content every day. Unfortunately, too many of those juicy headlines lead to mediocre content with little -- if any -- real value.

Imagine how amazing it would be to block out all but the most essential content. Making mindful content choices is one of the most effective ways to reduce stress, stop wasting time, and get more productive. In fact, filtering content mindfully is one of our 5 Fs of productivity.

One of the best ways to filter content is to start an information diet -- eliminating empty content calories and consuming only high quality information that nourishes your mind or your soul. 

Prescription for a healthy content lifestyle

A nourishing information diet includes consideration for both quantity and quality. Follow the four strategies below to create a well-balanced regimen.

1. Focus on information that supports your goals

Don’t read or watch solely to be entertained (most of the time). Engage with content primarily to enhance your skills, learn something new or get inspired. Sure, we all need a guilty pleasure binge watch every now and then, but make those the rare exception rather than the rule. 

2. Limit your social media screen time

Just say no to mindless scrolling and tapping. Reduce notifications, or turn them off altogether. Limit the number of times you open social apps -- preferably only two or three times per day.

When you are scrolling, resist clickbait temptation. The more unbelievable the headline, the more likely the content on the other end will be mediocre, disappointing, sensationalist or even #fakenews.

3. Curate your inbox: Hit that unsubscribe link

How many times have you been compelled to subscribe to a company’s emails just to get that enticing signup deal or access to that amazing ebook, webinar or research study? Well, once you’ve snagged the deal or downloaded the content, unsubscribe. 

Unless, of course, the email content actually qualifies as high quality. But be ruthless in your assessment -- remember, you only want information that will help move you towards your goals.

Guess what? There are apps for this! We especially like leavemealone, which helps you unsubscribe from dozens of e-newsletters in just a few minutes.

4. Schedule time for enjoying quality content

Block time in your calendar to read, watch or listen. If you commute, use that time. If you enjoy podcasts, you might consider listening while out walking or doing your housework. 

Building lasting habits

As most dieticians will tell you, the best diet is one you can stick with. That means a treat is ok once in a while, as long as treats aren’t the majority of your diet. 

So if streaming an episode or two of your favourite tv series each week is great fun for you, and perhaps even an activity you can share with a loved one, go ahead and do it. If cute cat videos bring you joy, watch a bunch of them when you need a lift.

Just remember to ask yourself these questions whenever you sit down to consume content: 

Why am I reading, listening to or watching this? Is it getting me closer to my goals or helping me lead a more fulfilling life? Is it the best use of my time?


For more smart productivity tips, check out our free ebook, The 5 Fs of Productivity. We guarantee your information dietician will approve.

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Mona Csada

Mona is the Director of Marketing and Communications for Virtual Gurus. She has over 20 years of experience bring brand stories to life and driving sales and marketing results for organizations large and small.

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