4 min read

Consumption vs. Creation

Why it's crucial to strike a balance between consuming and creating in our lives.
Consumption vs. Creation
Photo by Nick Fewings / Unsplash

In today's world where we are bombarded with information and constantly trying to have our attention usurped, I've realized that there is an underlying basis for how we feel daily.

Social media makes it easy to scroll, and streaming services make it even easier to watch the day away. There is nothing inherently wrong or invalid about either of these activities, but I find that for myself, it can be a time-suck. It inhibits my ability to get things done and while I may have gotten entertainment value out of scrolling social media or watching TV, it does not leave me feeling fulfilled.

This begins to broach the idea of Consumption vs Creation. This is a concept I happened upon when listening to a podcast recently, and it resonated with me, so much so that I want to expand upon the idea and share my thoughts. I'll start by outlining the differences between consumption and creation and then follow that with potential solutions to tip the scales in your favor!

Consumption

Consumption, in terms of this idea, is your in-take of content from the world around you. This could be Instagram, TikTok, Netflix, or even a good book. We are mentally consuming this content, and it is consuming our attention.

The natural byproduct of having our attention consumed is not a pretty one; it leaves us with no space to think or act upon our ambitions. When our attention is locked up on the internet or any other form of entertainment, that is attention that is being taken away from our productive self.

This is not to say consumption is a terrible thing, just that it should be enjoyed wisely and in moderation. Consumption is necessary. Where else would we find information or inspiration for ideas of our own? I find inspiration in reading other content, therefore if I cut it out entirely, I would run dry of things to think and write about. I just strive to limit intake to a certain extent.

Creation

Creation is the polar opposite of consumption; to create is to put content out into the world around you. Whether you do this in the form of writing, art, photography, etc., you are actively creating new content.

It need not even be for public consumption. Creation can be solely personal, but we should still prioritize it for multiple reasons. It can be used to express yourself, to articulate your ideas. It can help you to grow a skill set you desire to improve upon. Simply doing is the greatest way to improve a skill set, hence the reason creation is so important.

I should note that creating is not strictly limited to creative ventures. Some people are purely analytical, and while I would argue everyone should at least try their hand at some creative outlet, it isn't necessary for this idea. Creating can be anything that has tangible output; for example, going to the gym, working your job, or practicing your sport could be considered creating in this context. There is still tangible output in these scenarios and, therefore they fit under the creation side of things.

Finding Balance Between Consumption and Creation

Now that we can distinguish the difference between activities of consumption and activities of creation, let's discuss the importance of finding a balance between the two.

For everyone reading this, your balance will be different. There is no right or wrong amount of either consumption or creation, but there are general guidelines that will apply to most.

Finding your balance is essential because it is a key part of feeling fulfilled and enjoying your day-to-day life. By creating, we feel accomplished and develop our skills.

As a blanket statement, if all your time is spent consuming and you do virtually no creating, you are bound to feel unfulfilled. Creating must be part of the equation for anybody who hopes to find fulfillment in everyday life. If I spend a day where the majority of my time is spent consuming, I generally feel guilty about it later, as if I got nothing done.

I've been reading a new book called Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, and I read a passage recently that exemplifies this idea perfectly. I will be writing an entire post about the book, but here is that passage for now:

"Instead of using our physical and mental resources to experience flow, most of us spend hours each week watching celebrated athletes playing in enormous stadiums. Instead of making music, we listen to platinum records cut by millionaire musicians. Instead of making art, we go to admire paintings that brought in the highest bids at the latest auction. We do not run risks acting on our beliefs, but occupy hours each day watching actors who pretend to have adventures, engaged in mock-meaningful action."

While I think this passage overstates the downfall of consumption, the general idea aligns with mine. It is well worth the effort to create music, art, or whatever you like to do rather than solely consume it. To create is to enhance your experience in life.

Tips to Find Your Sweet Spot

So, you know what consumption and creation are, and you understand the importance of finding the right balance. A balance that allows you to draw inspiration from consumption, and then gives you the necessary amount of time to act upon it.

Now, how do you find that balance? Here are 3 things that have helped me to fine-tune my consumption and creation.

  1. Set aside time every day to create something. It doesn't have to be much, 15 or 30 minutes will suffice. Chances are, once you get started, you will end up spending much more time than that.
  2. Ask yourself whether or not the actions you are taking are intentional. How will what I'm doing enhance my life or help me achieve my goals? This will keep you on the right track and compel you to get creating.
  3. Create an environment conducive to creating. Turn your phone off, get off social media, listen to some music, or whatever works for you and allow yourself to think.

I use these to ensure I spend ample amounts of time working on my blog. They can be used for anything, so Happy Creating!

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