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Deliberate Consumption

Lesson 14 from: Design Systems That Fuel Your Creativity

Srinivas Rao

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Lesson Info

14. Deliberate Consumption

Lesson Info

Deliberate Consumption

In this next section, what we're gonna talk about is what I called deliberate consumption. We're gonna talk about the power of collaboration to expand your creative capacity. And we're gonna talk about the role that community plays in systems for creativity. So let's start with this idea of deliberate consumption. How many of you consume a lot of content and a lot of media? How many of you remember what you consumed yesterday? Or how much of what you consumed yesterday? Or even throughout the course of the week? Do you actually remember? Not a lot, right? So we live in a media environment in which so much information is being created every single day. And as a result, we're consuming tons of information every single day. I remember I spent a day once and I had this idea of a blog post that I wanted to title The Day I Basically Spent Nothing But Time Reading Useless Crap On The Internet because every single thing I had clicked on that day was useless. And the question that I wanna pose ...

to you before we get into the how is this. Is it the information that you consume a deliberate choice? Or is it simply a reaction to whatever is put in front of you? And if most of us are honest, it's largely the latter rather than the former because we click on links that roll through our Facebook newsfeed. We click on something that somebody texts us. We open up newsletters in our inbox. And for the most part, none of these are deliberate choices. They're pretty much set to default. Nobody goes into Medium when they sign up for it, I noticed this the other day because I'd followed so many different publications because I was one of the earliest users on the platform, and I was looking at all the things that I followed and I was like, why am I still following this? This is really not of any interest to me and it's not really relevant to what I'm trying to get done. And of course, as a result, I have a flood of information. And when you have so much information that you're consuming, it's really hard to parse the signal from the noise. What's relevant and important from what's completely irrelevant and unimportant. So how do we deal with this? Well, we deal with it through what I call deliberate consumption, making consumption choices that are specifically designed to fuel your creativity and lead you to the outcomes that you wanna have in your life. So I have two approaches that I've developed to deliberate consumption. The first is what I call the process approach. And the process approach really is, the idea is to consume content in the medium in which you create. You follow a routine and you follow process every single day. So for example, for me, I read books everyday because I'm a writer. You could be a composer and you could listen to music everyday. And that's a form of deliberate consumption. You could also watch movies if you're a filmmaker or documentaries. The idea, really, more than anything, if you're a cook, you could dine at a restaurant. That is also a form of deliberate consumption. But at its core, what this idea of the process-based approach is, is to consume content in the medium in which you're creating. One of the interesting projects that I did sometime last year, was I decided to make a list of all the biographies ever written by billionaires and about billionaires. And my editor at Penguin asked, what exactly were you hoping to learn? And I said, well, isn't that kind of obvious? But that ended up being incredibly informative. I learned a lot of different things. So that way, my reading ends up not being sporadic, but it's a very deliberate choice, specifically based on subject. But more than anything, I tend to be process-driven. Because of the fact that I'm a writer, books are my primary form of media consumption and that's my process-based approach. At least two books a week, 50 pages a day, whatever it is. Okay, the other approach is what is known as the content approach. And the content approach is exactly what it sounds like. Have your consumption center around a particular theme for an extended period of time. So effectively, what you're doing is you're deliberately diversifying your consumption habits. So I'm gonna tell you two stories about this. Judd Apatow, who has written iconic comedies like Superbad, 40-Year-Old Virgin, and a bunch of other stuff. When he was a writer for his high school newspaper, he was obsessed with comedy, so much so that he had schedules created every single time there were comedians on shows like David Letterman or any of the comedians happen to be hosting shows. And as a part of writing for his high school newspaper, he interviewed numerous up-and-coming comedians, people like Jerry Seinfeld, people like... I don't remember the guy's name, Gary something-or-other. But he kept interviewing all of these comedians. Now, the result of that, of course, is the fact that Judd Apatow has been one of the funniest writers and written some of most iconic comedies of the last decade. That's deliberate consumption at work. That is deliberately choosing what you're taking in and as a result, your output changes because of the fact that you've made a deliberate choice. As opposed to what most of us do, particularly when we get on the internet, which is just to click on everything that shows up in our way. It's not a deliberate choice. We don't specifically plan the way that we're gonna consume content. We don't plan the way that we're gonna read. Another interesting approach is from a guy named Julien Smith. Julien, who wrote a thousand words a day, but the other thing that really struck me about what Julien said was that he didn't read blogs, even though he had one of the most popular blogs on the internet, and he also read books, but not the kinds of books that other people read. So he tended to read very strange books like books about obscure Japanese poetry. And the result of that is if you go to Julien's blog and you read his writing, it's a very distinctive voice in terms of how he writes. He wrote a book with Chris Brogan called The Impact Equation. It was co-written. And if you've ever read both of their writings, you can instantly spot the sections that Julien wrote because they're so different than the ones that Chris wrote. Like, you can read one paragraph and you can say, Julien wrote that, I know this for a fact from having the conversations that I've had with him. So before we go into critical collaboration, I wanna ask each of you about your consumption habits. First off, how many of you think that your consumption habits are deliberate? Cool, okay. And how many think your consumption habits are pretty much set on default? You just click on whatever shows up in your inbox or whatever rolls through your newsfeed. Okay. Obviously, this takes work, it's not easy to do. It means, you know, managing your entire information environment. This kind of takes in a lot of ways to that whole idea of designing environments. In this case, what you're doing is you're designing the environment called the information that you consume. So I wanna ask you how you would go about changing it based on what I've just told you. So Riva, let's start with you and then we'll go to Melissa. Sure, so I'd say, I'm like, kind of in the middle. Like, I have a few deliberate things I consume like different podcasts for entrepreneurs. But I would say when I get out my laptop, it's a different story. Check the email, ooh, interesting blog here. Open up that window and then oh, see something else. And so I like the idea of having a theme of something, like whether it's around some content I'm developing for that week to be actively search out blogs or articles or videos on that. Just structure. I'll give you an example. So one of the things that I was really interested in recently was the subject of our criminal justice system, having interviewed a number of people who had spent time in jail, but also, having heard a number of different stories. So for about two weeks, because I wanted to do a project where I wanted to highlight and raise awareness about the criminal justice system by interviewing people who had either been impacted by it or done work related it, I literally read every book that I could find that had been written by lawyers. One by a guy named Brian Stevenson, who is the founder of the Equal Justice Initiative. Another by Anthony Ray Hinton, who served 30 years on death row for a crime he didn't commit. And it was interesting because suddenly, because of the fact that I had deliberately consumed this content, I knew it would fundamentally change the way that I was gonna approach the interviews because I had a much different perspective. And when you do that, you're effectively fueling your creativity. If your consumption choices are a deliberate choice, your creation is gonna be very indicative of that. Melissa. Well, actually, as I'm thinking about it, I have periods where I'm extremely deliberate about my consumption, where I get really fascinated by something and I kind of shut things out and I get very specific about, I really only wanna consume things that are related to that particular topic. And then I probably get more routinized and follow more of a process approach. But what will be more helpful is the more I construct my environment and eliminate more and more newsletters and things like that and move my cellphone out of my room in the morning, very key, then I'll be less distracted and better able to do both of these things, the process approach and the content approach. And be more deliberative about how I consume content. Well, I realize something once that says, I don't think it's a coincidence that I write prescriptive non-fiction because if you looked at my entire bookshelf, it's literally prescriptive non-fiction from social science researchers, happiness researchers, and productivity experts, which pretty much explains everything that you've heard for the last three hours. Material has to go somewhere. And what you consume ends up being reflected in everything that you create. And the nice thing is that you're able to borrow ideas from other people, you're able to connect dots in ways that you couldn't connect them before when you start to be more deliberate about your consumption habits as opposed to, I'm just gonna click on every single thing that remotely interests me. And as a result, you consume a lot of things, but you don't actually gain value because if you're consuming so much and you can't parse a signal from the noise, it becomes very difficult to decipher what's worth taking action on or what's worth implementing.

Ratings and Reviews

Melissa Dinwiddie

What a fabulous class! Srini covered one actionable idea after another that can be implemented immediately to fuel creativity right out of the gate. And the beautiful thing is that each tactic builds on all the others, so every little step you take will improve your overall systems. I loved the stories from his podcast and the guest speakers, too. My only complaint was that some of the slides had a lot of text on them -- too much to read. Other than that, it was well-organized, thoughtful, and super useful. I've already recommended it to several people in passing.

Kathryn Kilner

This is a great course for anyone pursuing creative work. It is easy to get distracted in the modern world and Srinivas provides practical insights and tested systems for empowering creatives to focus and get more done. Although I've read a lot about how to optimize my habits, I was challenged in this course to think differently about how I structure my time and my work space. The changes I've made have helped me be more productive.

a Creativelive Student

I've watched many CreativeLive courses. While I find many interesting, there are only a handful that capture my attention from beginning to end. This was one of those. The speaker mentioned countless gems that were applicable not only to creativity and productivity, but to how one lives daily life. There were multiple "deep thoughts" and several practical ways to alter one's environments (including physical and mental) in order to enhance productivity and general well-being. I've already implemented a few suggestions, and am anxious to revisit my notes on this course repeatedly.

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