Creating and consuming- a pathway to clearing the mind

Photo by Anthony Shkraba on

There is an interesting tension for me, between creating something new, and consuming something which exists. I find this in email (the emails I send, versus the emails I read), blog posts (those I write, versus those I read), and in many other areas such as todo list items, code pull requests, etc. The principle applies almost everywhere. Creation versus consumption. Are these two sides of the same coin? Are they independent, and being grouped together by sheer chance? What is the net affect of going in one direction or the other? Ultimately, the driver behind this search is searching for opportunities to quiet and clear the mind, be it of ideas for creation, or the need and desire for consumption.

I hypothesize that we exist between these two states of creation and consumption at different moments in our day. I find I like to create in the mornings, and consume in the afternoons. Often, I end up not fully being aware of this, and split my day between switching between these two paradigms throughout the day. There is surely a net affect there, even if purely from the context switching.

Taking stock of our inboxes

We live in a very busy world. As small as we’re perceiving our world to be in many ways (eg: communicating across the globe in an instant, being able to keep track of friends and family regardless of their location, getting instant insight into the worlds of others, and sharing insights from within our own world), the inherent busy-ness of our world is almost undeniable… yet we don’t always acknowledge this cost we’re incurring, in exchange for these “luxuries”.

A large part of this, for me, is this sense of having to “keep track” of multiple channels. These, in essence, all function the same way; “receive messages”, “process messages”, “send messages”. I’ve been thinking about this a lot, lately, and want to begin applying a stricter approach to how I deal with my various “inboxes”, and defining what my list of inboxes looks like.

Evaluating and optimising my time while learning

I’m someone who enjoys gathering as much information as possible on a topic, as I enjoy the context. Practically, this often translates to picking up a new podcast (for example) and starting right at the beginning (even if there are hundreds of episodes). I feel this helps to provide context for where the podcast began, how it has evolved, and the knowledge and experiences gained along the way.

Acknowledging what we already know, when making decisions

When making decisions, I’ve found it can be quite easy to get into a “bikeshedding” scenario, where the deciding parties lose track of the actual decision to be made. This can be internal, or within a group. Something I’ve found particularly useful and interesting recently is to acknowledge what we already know and how we already feel, as a way of helping the decision to progress to the next step (towards ultimately deciding).

Allowing yourself to switch gears

You’ve found a customer segment who really needs your product, developed a minimum viable version of your product and have launched to your market. Your customers are purchasing your product with roars of cheer and glee. What you do next is what you’ll be doing for the foreseeable future of your business; maintaining your product. While extremely important, maintenance of a single product can sometimes become repetitive. It can be great to switch gears from time to time.

Today, I’ll run through a few ideas on how to avoid the repetition as much as possible.

Removing limitations to achieve success

All too often we are faced with roadblocks, hurdles and limitations within everything we do. Whether it’s in our personal, work or digital lives, there are often items which stand in the way of us achieving our goals. Success, however, comes flooding through when we remove or refactor these limiting beliefs.

Today, I’d like to share the story of how I removed a limitation, and submitted my first patch to WordPress core in the process.

Structure as fuel

In many perceptions, structure is synonymous with “boundaries”, “limitations”, and “restrictions”. This is often the perception of the creative thinker. “Don’t box me in” is an often used phrase. As a product person, I feel the role of a product person within a software team is to bridge the gap between how creatives and how analytical thinkers perceive structure. I see structure as fuel.

Having a “No Meetings” zone

This week, I’ve begun doing a rotation with our support team at Automattic. Every Automattician does this as part of their on-boarding, as this helps to learn the systems, tools and users we’re interacting with every day. For me, this additionally helps to learn more about the users we’re building products for, which is a huge added bonus towards our user-centric approach to product development. Through this week, my work time demands 100% of my focus to be on the support rotation. I take this very seriously and am 110% focussed on learning as much as I can. This means, of course, postponing or moving any meetings I have on my calendar. This brought about some interesting and exciting results, which I’ll be exploring further here.