It goes without saying that we are bombarded with information on a daily basis. This goes especially for filmmakers since the craft involves so many different fields of thought and types of content. Most Americans consumed an average of 13 1/2 hours of content per day in 2020, and that number is expected to go up this year.
Have you ever wondered how that affects you? As it turns out, the old phrase "you are what you eat" is alarmingly relevant here. So much of those hours are consuming junk food that it affects our ability to execute on our craft. Now there's nothing wrong with a little junk food but it can get out of control if we're not mindful about it.
So how do we be mindful about it? By starting a Content Diet. This piece will explain what Contin diet is, the benefits of it and how to start it.
What is a Content Diet?
The term itself is pretty self-explanatory. It is a conscious curation of the content you consume. Content can be anything from articles, Facebook posts, podcasts, or (most relevant to Filmmakers) films.
One thing I do want to make clear is that a Content Diet is more about quality than quantity. If you spend 13 hours a day watching good films or reading helpful tutorials (or reading Tilt the Line 😃) then you're probably on the right track. But having a Content Diet is about making conscious decisions and not going down rabbit holes.
As long as you're able to maintain control and exercise will power over what you're putting into your mind so to speak, then a Content Diet has achieved its main purpose.
Benefits of a Content Diet
There are quite a few benefits of starting accounting diet. Many of them revolve around control of our time and attention. Here are three main benefits.
#1 No More Rabbit Holes
We tend to go down rabbit holes in order to learn more information to satisfy our intrigue. Everyone, Filmmaker or otherwise, wants more information becuase it often leads to better decisions. Makes sense, right?
Correct, but it is something that Social Media apps like to exploit. The more information (i.e content) they provide you, the longer you'll stay on their platform and the more ads they can sell. This leads to them showing you whatever they can in order to extend your stay, regardless of quality.
But by being intentional with a diet, we are in control of these apps and not the other way around. If you want to go down a rabbit hole and binge Stanley Kubrick films, then that is you making the choice of what you want to gain from that marathon.
#2 Healthier Output
This is a simple obvious one; healthier output. The quality of the content that we put in our brains affects our ability to create things down the line. And as filmmakers, we're always striving to be the best that we can be. Plain and simple.
#3 Better Attention and Retention
One of the casualties of this bombardment of and addiction to information is our attention spans. We're easily moved from one tweet to the next video to the next article before we realize how much time has passed.
With a Content Diet, you choose what deserves your attention and when. This affects both how much you pay attention to it but also what you remember about it. This has to do with how our brain focuses on what's in front of us (probably worth it's own post).
Bottom line: when you're intentional about what you consume, you'll enjoy it more, remember it more and learn more from it.
How to Start a Content Diet
That all sounds great, but where do you start? People have done it in a lot of ways, and it's a very personalized process. I'll share what worked for me, but feel free to augment your research and try things that make sense for you.
Audit your Inboxes
No, I don't only mean your email inboxes. In this context, an inbox is any feed where we recieve our recomendations, things to check out, things to watch, and so on. Messages, social feeds and even friend circles all qualify.
To audit these inboxes, take a look at where the junk sources are coming from, more or obstruct them, then replace them with healthy sources. Here are some examples:
- Instead of scrolling Facebook's homepage, go to specific Group pages, where the posts are more targeted and curated for quality.
- Unsubscribe from the million marketing newsletters in your email and subscribe to newsletters that provide helpful resources (like ours).
By controlling the sources of these bits of information, we control what we're most likely to want to watch or read.
Block Your Time
This is particularly difficult for Filmmakers. We're always being pulled in several directions at once and, as a result, we lose control of our time.
The way I got around it was by blocking my time. I'm already working on a post as to why this is beneficial (and actually pretty easy) for us to do, so here's the gist.
When you have something you want to do, put it into a calendar. It forces you to set a date and amount of time for that thing.
For me, I use an app called Sorted3 to lay out my entire day. Production Meetings, workouts, meals, errands, writing time, breaks...everything goes into the app. It has the time to be done and amount of time it takes to get it done in the optimal order, and I work from there.
As Filmmakers our schedules are next-level crazy, so if we need to rearrange our schedule, that's okay! But by putting it into a system that segments our attention, it helps us maintain that intentionality over time.
I already mentioned the power Social Media can have over us. As harmful as that power can be, it also has many uses that make it truly indespencible.
But what about taking breaks from it? Maybe a half a day a week where we don't open Facebook or Instagram?
Most would use this time to spend with family or friends, and I strongly encourage you to do so. But you can also use it as part of your diet.
Dare I say it, maybe we should read more books. A physical book with no internet connection, no notifications and no distractions. For those with ADD who can go into a rabbit hole at a moment's notice, going offline every once in a while may be helpful.
Ready to Start a Content Diet?
Like I mentioned in the first part of this piece, there's nothing wrong with some junk food. Heck, the next piece that's coming out is about the benefits of guilty pleasure movies. But they key woard is SOME. Some junk food.
We as Filmmakers are creating the works that will influence the next generation of creators. And if we're not puting out quality, we may never see it again. And a content diet is one of the ways we stay at the top of our game.
I hope this was helpful and that you start your content diet today!