Why you need to produce more than what you consume


A couple of days ago, I stumbled upon a Reditt thread which was discussing the small lifestyle changes you’ve made to have a big impact in your life. The most popular comment on that thread was about how one person improved his life by being a Producer vs a Consumer. Here is brief excerpt of that comment –

I make sure to start every day as a producer, not a consumer. When you get up, you may start with a good routine like showering and eating, but as soon as you find yourself with some free time you probably get that urge to check Reddit, open that game you were playing, see what you’re missing on Facebook, etc. Put all of this off until “later”. Start your first free moments of the day with thoughts of what you really want to do; those long-term things you’re working on, or even the basic stuff you need to do today, like cooking, getting ready for exercise, etc. This keeps you from falling into the needy consumer mindset. That mindset where you find yourself endlessly surfing Reddit, Facebook, etc. trying to fill a void in yourself, trying to find out what you’re missing, but never feeling satisfied. When you’ve started your day with doing awesome (not necessarily difficult) things for yourself, these distractions start to feel like a waste of time. You check Facebook just to make sure you’re not missing anything important directed at you, but scrolling down and reading random stuff in your feed feels like stepping out into the Disneyland parking lot to listen to what’s playing on the car radio — a complete waste of time compared to what you’re really doing today.

Very well said. I totally agree with this philosophy. Though I try to follow this philosophy many times, I fail to follow it consistently for good length of time. But I’m not going to give up. I need to follow this discipline again more consistently. Writing this blog post can be considered as producing my own thoughts instead of just consuming a Reditt thread.

Why I believe in this philosophy?

The short answer is — producing helps us grow. If you observe your consumption activity, most of the times it’s a passive activity. When we’re watching a TV or online Video, or reading a news or blog article, for the most of the part we tend to believe in what the content producer is telling us. We rarely think on our own while we’re consuming something. So we don’t develop our own view points and our own thinking. While I agree leisure time and rest is important, and we need to consume something entertaining without thinking much. But too much of this behavior becomes a habit and eventually it makes us weak as over the period we stop thinking.

On the contrary, when you produce something, you stretch your mind. You come out of your comfort zone, stretch your own limits, and you think on your own! You develop your own view point. Every single producing exercise is a great learning experience on many different levels — sometimes tangible and sometimes intangible. But with this constant habit of producing something, you continue to grow — both personally and professionally.

If that’s the case, then is consuming totally useless?

Of course not. While I agree that being just a consumer is not a good thing, I strongly believe that consuming is just as important as producing. If there are no consumers, then there won’t be any producers, and vice-versa as well. So we need both — producers and consumers. We just need to follow a discipline to do both things with good balance. To produce some great stuff, you also need to consume new information, knowledge, and ideas. So you definitely need to consume what interests you. But you also need to put certain limit on it and make sure it doesn’t become just mindless consumption. In day to day life, I would give more emphasis on producing something meaningful, but at the same time, I would allocate some time to consume something relevant and thought provoking — ideally something which will even inspire me to produce something new.

So what should you produce more and consume less?

The first thing — you need to believe that you need invest more time on producing than that you spend on consuming. Producing could mean your day-to-day office work, home tasks, replying to important emails, writing a blog post, or even Tweeting some interesting insights of your own (not retweeting someone else’s blog post link). Even during your day-to-day work — brainstorming new ideas, architecting new design, programming some function — falls into bucket of producing Vs just attending meetings & presentations, or reading programming articles or books — falls into bucket of consuming. Similarly, just watching funny videos or someone else’s photos, watching TV serials or sports channels is most of the times mindless consumption. We just need to limit the time we spend on these consumption activities.

Final thoughts

Again, both producing and consuming activities are important, you just need to find a way to produce more stuff than what you are consuming. At the end of the day, it’s the right amount of balance will make you feel proud, enriched and excited Vs exhausted and less motivated. Hope this blog post will inspire you to produce more stuff — let it be hacking a project in the part-time, writing a blog post, painting some picture, or anything which excites you, and pushes your limits and make you think. Happy producing!


Originally published at aditya.kothadiya.com on February 8, 2012.

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