Sunday, February 28, 2016

Consumer to Producer Thoughts for Staring the Year in a Productive Way



Woah, it’s nearly March already! 2016 is off to a flying start and I’ve barely gotten over my Christmas hangover. The beginning of the year is the best time to step back, assess the year gone by, make resolutions, strive for new beginnings, and refocus. I’m still riding on the wave of January optimism and have so many things I want to learn in the coming months, so many blogs to read, events to attend, online courses to take, new design programs to download… I’m ready to do it all!

When I find a good source of content online I often end up following a never ending rabbit hole of articles, videos and podcasts and completely forget what I originally set out to learn. During one of my rabbit hole learning adventures I stumbled upon a series of podcasts by Sean McCabe who talks about creativity and business. One podcast episode in particular felt very close to home—specifically focusing on how to optimize your consumption time and how to be purposeful with your learning.

McCabe talks about focusing your learning and fighting the urge to consume in the moment. He recommends setting time aside to learn that new skill and not splitting your focus with your day to day tasks. He also talks about the importance of being a producer of content, not just a consumer. We truly learn the lessons of our consumption when we put them into practice. Watching TED talks, listening to podcasts, and reading blog posts, can be insightful and inspiring but the real learning happens when this knowledge is put into practice. Producing great content is hard and takes time but the only way to improve is to practice and fail… and then practice some more and fail again. Making mistakes is the key to learning a new skill and you can’t make mistakes if you’re not producing.

“Consumption is a good thing only if what you’re consuming enriches your life.”

I’ve been interested in hand lettering for a few years now and I love putting together Pinterest boards of cool hand lettering examples. If putting hand lettering Pinterest boards together was a job I’d have an amazing portfolio and a bright future ahead of me! In actuality, my real goal is having my own hand lettering work on Pinterest admired and consumed by my peers. So instead of making a resolution this year (which, let’s be honest, once we break a resolution most of us give up on it altogether) I took Sean McCabe’s advice and set a goal to produce one hand lettering piece a week. When I have 15 hand lettering examples I’ll set up a Instagram account to post them to, so watch this space!


Even this blog post is an example of learning by producing. I also want to improve the way I articulate ideas and form opinions and this is the perfect way for me to practice, this post is as much for me as it is for you. I’m sure you all have something you want to learn or improve on, so what are you waiting for my friend? Go forth and produce!