As with many things, the first step is admitting defeat. There is, to a first approximation, an infinite amount of stuff to be consumed on the internet. Articles, videos, podcasts, photos, etc. The catchall term “content” is useful for a reason. It is literally impossible to read, watch, or listen to everything that gets thrown at you. Here is what you can do to get more out of your leisure time and find the best stuff.
Turn off all notifications
Then only turn back on the ones you absolutely need, like messaging apps. Instead of having apps push notifications to your devices, have your devices pull them instead at a set time interval, say, every hour.
Pick smart people to filter the internet for you
You can’t read everything, so you need to rely on sources that you can trust to find new and interesting things.
Subscrube via email to these newsletters and blogs:
- Marginal Revolution
- Matt Levine’s Money Stuff
- Slate Star Codex
- Ben Thompson’s Daily Update (Note: newsletter is for subscribers only and costs $10/month. It’s worth it.)
- Vox Sentences for a daily news brief
- Nuzzel for a daily news digest of the most shared links in your Twitter feed
- Benedict Evans for what’s happening in tech
- Pocket Hits to see what’s popular with Pocket users.
- Pome by Matthe Ogle for one poem a day
Add these feeds to your RSS reader:
Listen to some of these podcasts (in alphabetical order):
- Beer Ignorance with Cock & Croc
- The Bill Simmons Podcast
- Conversations with Tyler
- Ear Hustle
- The Ezra Klein Show
- Hidden Brain
- I Have to Ask
- The Indicator from Planet Money
- Macro Musings
- The Pitch
- Reply All
- Revisionist History
- Science Vs
- Slate Money
- Startup Podcast
- This American Life
- Today, Explained
- The Weeds
- Waking Up with Sam Harris
Use RSS feeds to follow your favorite writers. This takes a while to set up, but once you do, it’ll save you a lot of time and allow you to easily keep up with their work. Use Feedly.
What’s noticeably absent here? Social media feeds. They are the endless scroll of death. Delete the Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram, etc. apps from your phone and only check the feeds periodically when you really want a social media break.
The key, I think, is being conscious about which filters you use to find new things. In the future, it’s likely that algorithmic recommendations will do a better job of finding good content than the kludged system I describe above. But judging by the quality of my algorithmic feeds on Facebook, Twitter, and Pocket, we still have a long way to go.
In the meantime, consider using this system to keep your head above water. Happy consuming!