By avoiding the process of creating and staying in consumption mode, you’re denying the world your gifts.
Today is the day you admit you’re in consumption mode. Today is the day you flip the switch to creation mode. Today is the day you draw a line in the sand and say, “I’m done consuming!”
We’ve all been stuck in consumption mode.
Reading another inspiring article (the irony is not lost on me here). Scrolling through countless social media feeds. Watching too much Netflix (ugh, yes there is such a thing). These distractions give us small dopamine responses, which is why we get addicted to them.
But you know what will give you an even better dopamine response? Getting out of consumption mode and creating stuff that brings value to you and other people.
We have all been stuck in consumption mode. All of us. And honestly, it’s a mode in life that comes and goes every single day. It’s not something you’re going to turn off forever (unless you move to an island that doesn’t have Internet).
I know I catch myself wondering into consumption mode when I’m trying to:
- Write an article (like this one)
- Work on an outline for a new project
- Answer customer support emails
I avoid doing those types of tasks because they don’t bring me immediate gratification. As human beings we are wired for immediate gratification. Shiny object – wee! New opportunity – ahh! Fun new thing to explore – yes! But you have to learn to turn off the distractions.
I don’t have a fancy one-size-fits-all formula for flipping the switch on consumption mode to “OFF.” What I do have is a ton of experience getting a lot of things done. Like, way more than most people. I’m not saying that to be cocky, I’m saying that because I’m proud that I’ve learned how to flip the creation mode switch to “ON.”
Five steps you can take today to go from consumption mode to creation mode (the place where awesome stuff happens!)
Step #1 to getting out of consumption mode: Close your email inbox!
This one thing is so unbelievably helpful when you want to switch from consumption mode to creation mode. Our email inboxes are like the needy girl/boyfriend who won’t EVER leave you alone. Always pestering you with their problems and then randomly surprising and delighting you with something amazing.
While reading this article I bet you got an email. Whether it notified you on your phone, popped up on your desktop, or showed a new notification in Gmail.
Shut your inbox up for a few hours at a time. Close it down. Life will go on and your email will be waiting for you. This comic by Oatmeal is spot-on:
(Ugh, I know telling you to read comics is a big distraction. So… read one or two and then get out!)
Step #2 Build your creation zone
I wrote this article from the bar-top in my kitchen. I wasn’t sitting at my desk. I wasn’t sitting on my couch. I happened to notice a ton of natural light on this day and I gravitated toward it. I felt motivated and let that motivation carry me into creation mode.
Whenever I’m writing, I have Spotify on in the background. I almost always write to one of three artists: Pretty Lights, Helios, or the Tron:Legacy Soundtrack. It’s music that isn’t distracting and doesn’t make me want to sing or dance. I love singing and dancing, but not when I’m trying to get in my creation zone (unless my creation zone is interpretive dance…). Maybe you need singing/dancing music for whatever you’re creating? That’s totally fine.
Another note about writing: I close every app and write in Bear Writer. It’s a beautifully simple writing app. I can’t format a single thing or get distracted with tools and widgets. I can only write. I love it.
Whether it’s where you work, what you listen to while you work, the tools that you use to create, find your optimal creation zone. Go to that place when you need to create.
Step #3 For the love of all things holy, turn off your notifications or hide your phone.
If you thought your email inbox was needy, your phone and all it’s blinking notifications takes needy-ness to another level.
I get it. Some people simply cannot turn off notifications for Facebook, Twitter, Email, etc. That’s fine. You’re controlled by your phone. The least you can do is put your phone out of sight and earshot while creating. Don’t worry, all those precious notifications will be there for you when you go back to it.
I’ve removed all the social apps from my phone and turned off all notifications. I don’t feel like I miss out on anything. I control my usage of these platforms, I don’t let them control me! If you’re feeling bold, go one step further and do a social media detox.
Step #4 Close the tabs
I shouldn’t have to mention closing the social media website tabs. That’s a given. But I firmly believe if you want to be in creation mode you can’t have a bunch of consumption opportunities staring you in the face. Try just minimizing your web browser. Try it. Hide the tabs from your eyeballs.
If you’re a hotshot, close your browser and all its tabs! Holy crap, that’s scary right? Don’t worry, those are just things on the Internet that will be available for you to find again.
Step #5 Do a social media detox
I cannot stress enough the power and importance of breaks from social media. Back in 2014 I did my first 30-day social media detox and wrote a daily journal about it (the journal was written offline and then published when the detox was finished). I’d highly recommend reading about taking your own break from social media.
Stepping away from the scrolling and swiping of Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc, gave me unbelievable clarity and helped me regain control of my obsessive use of addictive social media platforms.
Nowadays I take two months off of social media each year (July and December). I come back fully recharged and ready to dive into creation mode. Not to mention all the extra creation time I gain during those months not using social media to create stuff!
That’s all you need to do to create more and consume less.
Do those things. It’s four things. If you can’t try all four, then there’s no hope for you. I’m not saying that to be dramatic—well, yes I am. If you can’t get out of your own way, you’ll never get out of consumption mode.
So many opportunities will show up for you in life if you’re creating stuff. Almost zero opportunities show up if you’re just consuming everyone else’s stuff.
James Clear put it perfectly:
“Our lives were meant to be spent making our contribution to the world, not merely consuming the world that others create.”
You just finished consuming an article. I’m acutely aware of the irony. But now that you’ve read this, stop consuming any other content for awhile. Find your creation zone. Go to it. Stay there for awhile. Create something. Even if it sucks and it never sees the light of day.
Keep creating and allowing more time for creation than consumption.