How much time do you spend consuming content everyday? How many platforms do you get your news from? My guess is that it is more than one and that most people reading this spend a great deal of time throughout their day consuming media and news in various forms. TV, newspapers, websites, Twitter, Snapchat, and Facebook, all draws on our daily attention and all filled with an ever expanding amount of content produced daily if not hourly. In this digital age there is an endless stream of information made available across hundreds of platforms and an expectation that we are continuously connected to what is going on around us. Fear of missing out has as much to do with the fear of being out of the loop as it does with missing experiences. So how do you keep up with the constant bustle? Is it possible to keep up?
Plenty of apps and websites have popped up over the past few years to address this content overload; platforms that promise to curate and deliver the best content so you don’t have to spend hours reading articles and scrolling through Twitter. Daily newsletter TheSkimm has amassed millions of subscribers (including me) by delivering top news stories in an easy to read, concise format that leaves you with the big facts and little of the surrounding noise. Then you have the aggregators, platforms like Paper.li, DrumUp, Feedly, and RSS feeds programmed to deliver the content most important to you. While these tools may reduce the time spent scrolling through the various outlets and provide direction in what to read first, they still may not address the overall amount of content if you are interested in multiple genres of news. Further, if you use more than one tool, you may be inundated with more stories than you can read in a day.
I personally scroll through at least four major publications throughout the day, in addition to social networks. My morning ritual involves a cup of tea, a major news outlet, and several digital news publications varying in their specific topics. By 8am I have at least two email newsletters in my inbox that I quickly skim to see if anything catches my attention. Depending on time, I will either read the articles or tell myself I will get to them later. At times later means several days or not at all. Even with the helpful tools, I often feel like I could spend most of my day consuming news and still miss something. Part of this is attributable to the industry I work in. Digital media and the associated technology changes so quickly that the hot story one day can drastically change overnight. While I like to think I do well in keeping up with the news, I know there are things I miss. Given that I spend my entire day looking at screens for work, there are plenty of times that reading news online is that last thing that I want to do. Even with tools that give me highlights or tell me what stories are trending, there are not enough hours in the day for me to consume all of the information that is relevant to my industry, let alone the addition of world news.
For many, especially those in business fields, it is not just the pressure to keep up, but to add to the conversation. You must read an article and then share it on your chosen platform with thoughtful insights and opinions. Becoming a thought leader is no longer a bonus in many fields, but rather a career requirement. Whether it is a Tweet, a LinkedIn share, or a fully developed article or blog post, contributing to the mass of content signifies that you are knowledgable about the current landscape and how it affects your industry. Those contributions become another draw on your time and energy, leaving you even less time to consume the next day’s news.
Some users have decided on a single platform, choosing to consume only what is presented on their favorite platform. Others dedicate a given amount of time to consuming as much information as they can. I fall in the latter group, though at times that feels like a detriment to my productivity. For me, and I’m sure for many like me, finding the balance between staying informed and not allowing the constant stream of information to overrun the day is an ongoing experiment. I have not yet found that perfect balance, but for my own sanity I hope I do soon.
How do you consume your news? Have you figured out the balance?