3 min

Valuing the content you consume

Ever felt like that next podcast, blog, book, YouTube video or online course is going to give you THE insight that you’ve been missing all this time, only to consume the material and still be left feeling like you’re missing it?

You’re immediately onto the next piece of content for that elusive insight. However, failing to take a moment to digest, implement or capture the things that really stood out is costly.

Take a moment to apply the content and insights you consume

When we complete something we get a small dopamine hit, it’s a reward mechanism and is the brain’s way of thanking you. Dopamine feels good and leads us to crave us the next fix. The trouble is that we’re missing out on lots of the real value if we give in to this way of working.

If we’re not consuming content for entertainment we’re often there to learn something. When we get distracted by a quest to find the next dopamine hit, it’s easy to neglect the real reason for starting that book in the first place… to get insight that’s going to help us.

Often we don’t need more content, we just need to take a moment and apply the content and insight we’re consuming.

The value isn’t in the information, it’s what you do with it

In consultancy, we’re guilty of consuming probably more content than most, but the reality that I have to constantly bring myself back to is one of value. The value of reading isn’t in the information, it’s in what we do with it and the change that we can create because of that.

I’ll admit it I’m as guilty, if not more so, as the next person… I’ve got a long list of books that I want to read. Not for enjoyment, but for the insight they contain. As soon as I seem to finish one, I can’t help but pick up the next one. The feeling of accomplishment and progress is just too compelling to resist. The problem with this is that I lose sight of the original reason for reading it. To gain insight and value from the contents.

Ok, I may skip a few important lessons as I go, but I’m not going to recall the vast majority.

It’s usually off the back of a comment or a particular challenge that I catch myself trying to recall that thing that would be really helpful, the thing is, that I know it’s in a book that’s on a shelf however many miles away from me. Not helpful. If I don’t stop as I go, I can get through a stack of books realising that I have a ticked a box, but have only really scratched the surface of the value that was there.

It takes discipline…

In my more disciplined moments, I’ll read, reflect and digest the pertinent insights whilst making them accessible for those times when I need them at my fingertips. Here’s how…

Firstly, I’ll spend a good few minutes in the contents pages, REALLY trying to get my head around the arc of the narrative. If I can get my head around this structure it makes the components much easier to recall.

Secondly, I’ll have a highlighter to hand as I’m reading. Anything that piques my interest I’ll highlight and fold the page corner. This helps on two fronts, firstly it helps me quickly spot what was of interest and secondly I’ll be able to thumb back to it quickly. I used to just fold the page corners and then try and come back to those pages. The trouble was I’d then spend an age re-reading so much because I was trying to identify the sentence.

Finally, and this is the one I struggle with most. At the end of each book, I try to go back through and digitise the useful content into a space that I can easily come back to. For me, it’s Evernote. I’ll start with the contents page and then come back to each of the folded corners. It’s not the quickest process and one that’s very easy to want to come back to. However, this final piece of the jigsaw is the one with the most value.

Having this information available, not only makes it useful now but in years to come too. Imagine having a bank of content that you can draw upon at a moments notice, the value of this would be immense. However, the reward mechanisms and dopamine incentive is often a compelling option, especially in the moment.

As Matt, the founder of Form would say… “Always play the long game”.