Here’s an interesting way of thinking about content. What if you treated the content you consumed the same way as the food you consume?
Living in an increasingly health-conscious society means we are so conscious of what we put into our bodies, but not nearly as preoccupied with what we put into our brains. We mindlessly devour reams of invaluable - or you could say - 'unhealthy' content. The news, gossip magazines, social media, spammy newsletters… to name a few.
Of course, we all have our guilty pleasures. We indulge in food now and again that isn't necessarily good for us, but it tastes good and a sensible eater would allow it in small doses. The same should go for content. For example, keeping your consumption of the news limited - enough to keep you up to date on what you need to know, but not so much that it tarnishes your view of the world.
Interestingly, Parrish says that by reading the news, we are letting someone else do the thinking for us. We are letting someone else give us their opinion and consuming it as our own.
Parrish's blog is dedicated to helping link its subscribers to content that helps them grow as a person, better their decision-making skills and broaden their understanding of the world.
The content diet - a term I coined myself after reading this article - is a mindful approach to content consumption. Similar to that of a mindful dieter; only opting for healthy, valuable, enjoyable content. A balance between reading what you want to read and want you to need to read.
But, what about retaining all this valuable information?
Parrish calls his system The Blank Sheet: "Before he begins reading a new book, he takes a blank sheet and writes down what he knows about the subject. Then, as he’s reading, he uses a different colour pen to write down new ideas and connect them to what he had originally written, hanging the new knowledge on the old knowledge."
Isn't that in itself a game-changer?
He also advocates ‘being a quitter’ - giving up on books that we find no value in.
I don't know about you, but I almost feel obligated to finish every book I start whether I'm enjoying it or not. I feel a sense of failure leaving a book unfinished. But with limited time, why put something into your brain that isn’t bringing you any enjoyment or value? Kind of feels like eating an entire un-delicious pizza. What's the point in that?
Reading is a skill that once you’ve learned, you probably don’t spend much time trying to get better at. (Not all that different from, say, breathing.) And yet, many of us don’t have to look far to see signs that there’s plenty of room for improvement. We only read at the end of the day—and only for the three minutes between cracking open a book and falling asleep. We’re halfway through about nine books. And our bookshelves are littered with titles that we remember reading but don’t exactly remember anything about.