how to decide if content is worth your time

We’ve all been there.

You want to pursue a new goal or interest, but you’re not sure where to start. So you google or use some other means to do a general internet search. And stuff comes up. Lots of stuff. What’s more, once you sign up for this amazing newsletter here, or sit for an hour listening to that promising new podcast, you have even more stuff to go through! Pretty soon, one thing leading to another, you’ve gone down a rabbit hole that has you sobbing each day trying to read through dozens of articles/keep track of multiple webinars/and watch or listen to all the latest from at least 50 different sources.

You’re overwhelmed. You’re confused. You have too much content to consume, and stressful as that is, it’s more fun than putting in actual work! And that’s not even mentioning that over half of these charitable educators want your money.

I’ve been there… at least a dozen times. And it needs to stop.

Here are five questions to ask yourself before consuming your next piece of content:

1. Does it pertain to one of your top three priorities?

I have many interests — nutrition, politics, history, sleeping. But at the beginning of the year, I decided what I wanted to focus on was a) growing my blog, b) writing, and c) starting a successful business. That means I need to consider all content that isn’t relevant to one of these three topics non-essential.

If you’re calling it free time or fun, by all means, read/watch/listen to whatever you want. But if it’s time to work or be productive, ask yourself if what you are about to do is relevant to your true priorities.

2. Is it from a source you enjoy and/or trust?

It’s super easy to begin a blog, create a course, start your own email list, or post content to YouTube, Medium, etc. If you’re writing on here, you probably started because someone told you to just do it, and you’d eventually earn a loyal tribe of readers. No need to already be an expert — after all, you become by doing. Right?

That’s good advice, but always keep in mind the consumer perspective. Just because somebody talks the talk and walks the walk — or even sells their services — doesn’t automatically mean what they’re offering has value. You might also find excellent content that simply isn’t presented in a way that works for you or that you like. It’s okay to be cautious and selective!

3. Does it contain information that is immediately actionable?

If you can’t or won’t apply what you learn within a week, it’s probably not worth your time. You can bookmark and pin things “for later” as often as you like, but few of us find the time to revisit them. Unless you have a working system, if it’s not worth your time now, it probably won’t be in the near future.

4. Is there a way to get the same or similar information that is quicker or easier?

I always prefer to read information over watching it, as it’s faster for me and easier to process. I’ve found that most people who offer webinars/videos are giving away free ebooks with the same information. And as we all know: most of the information out there nowadays is not new, but simply reconfigured.

If one source isn’t working for you, give it up and find something else.

5. Does it cost money to get the “real deal”?

Spoiler alert: it almost always does. That doesn’t mean that the “free previews” aren’t valuable — in fact, I wrote an article earlier this year encouraging people to take advantage of these. But if you know it’s going to cost money and you can’t afford it/aren’t willing to pay, sometimes it’s better to cut the source off altogether. While some sources only occasionally sales pitch and offer a great deal of valuable free content, you’ll find others who initially seem generous, but later spam you with email after email trying to get a sale.

Takeaway

There’s a ton of great, useful content out there on the internet, but there’s also a lot that’s not. To get the most out of your time, ask yourself:

  1. Is it relevant?
  2. Is it from a good source?
  3. Is the info immediately actionable?
  4. Can I get this information elsewhere more quickly or easily?
  5. Are they after my money?

Hopefully, this screening system will free up more of your time for quality input and, more importantly, productive output!


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Anne Marie is a writer and entrepreneur. She lives with her husband and daughter in PA. You can find her at her online home, www.inspiration-kindled.com, or follow her on twitter @InspireEach_Day.