Consume Less, Create More

Consume Less, Create More - Have you ever noticed how easy it is to fall into the habit of learning and taking in information to the point where creativity gets pushed to the back burner? Well, believe me, you're not alone. I'm sharing some thoughts about how to make more room for creativity @ littlegirldesigns.com

Please note this post may include affiliate links. For more information, read my disclosure policy here.

I think the phrase, “Consume Less, Create More” is going to be my new motto. I would like to make it into a t-shirt, write it on Post-it notes, and create an automatic message that pops up on my computer screen every now and then to remind me. A little overboard? Maybe. But seriously, this has been something I’ve been thinking about a LOT lately.

Maybe you’re like me and love to learn. I seriously think if I had the money, I would be taking classes constantly. Nerd alert, I know. Don’t tell, but I was the kid who got to class early to chat with my teachers. I blame this on my parents (and grandparents and aunts and uncles) who were teachers. They’re just so much fun to talk with. But I digress.

Loving to learn has been a great benefit as I’ve been working this year to learn all I can to make Little Girl Designs a great resource. So it isn’t a bad thing. But when I noticed recently, it was becoming THE thing, I realized I had a bit of a problem.

How to Know if You’re Consuming Too Much (My Checklist)

  • You read way too many updates in your Instagram/Facebook/social media feed every. single. morning.
  • You check email more than once or twice a day.
  • You sign up for a class, do the assignments up until week three, then sign up for another class.
  • Your favorite blogger/entrepreneur/creative announces a new workshop and you sign up, even though you know you won’t even be home that day. But you figure you’ll squeeze in watching it that night or something.
  • You take pages of notes for these classes and workshops, you pin 8 million ideas, (or if you’re old-fashioned), you dog-ear lots of inspirational magazines and books.
  • You feel so inspired but there’s something that feels like stress lurking beneath the surface too . . . and you can’t quite put your finger on it.

Oh, that’s just me?

No, it’s not. You guys send me emails (or at least a few of you did) and you mentioned the same feelings of overwhelm. How you (and I) love to create but there’s just so much inspiration out there and where to start?! How you love to take courses on how to grow your blog and learn but it feels like you’ll never get the chance to truly implement because, well, did you hear about that new course that is coming out next month? It sounds ah-mazing and it’s half off for a limited time!

Argh.

Hence, the reason why the phrase, “Consume Less, Create More” has been on my mind lately. I have several projects that are on the burners right now. Things I’d love to see come into fruition in the next year. But they’re clearly not going to become anything if I just keep on reading, learning, and taking notes.

As I was writing this post, and maybe because I started having serious doubts about whether or not I was the only one who does this, I decided to Google, “consume less, create more.” My fears were immediately washed away when the results showed over 69,000,000 results. Good grief. This looks like a bit of a problem, you think?

I did click on a few of those links and a comment by Scott Dinsmore in his article about consuming less and creating more struck me. He said, “The problem is that there is no risk in consuming. There’s no fear of rejection.” Eek.

His words might seem a little strong if your frustration stems from being overwhelmed about what creative project to do next. It’s not like you finishing your kid’s scrapbook is going to change the world, right? Probably not, though you’ll likely enjoy flipping through those pages someday.

What this approach to creating more and consuming less will most likely do is give you a great sense of peace and, dare I say it, happiness. Another blogger did a happiness experiment and actually tracked how many things he was consuming on a daily basis as opposed to what he was creating. Then he wrote down how he felt. Time and again he realized that over-consumption was the cause of him feeling down. (As a side note here, if you are suffering from clinical depression, please seek help from a trusted doctor. Creating things will certainly help in your healing process but you will need additional guidance. And that’s perfectly fine!)

I’ve noticed that on the days where I’ve made stuff, even little things, I’ve been more cheery than on the days that I spent way too much time hunched over my keyboard staring at a screen of information.

Another article I came across was from The Minimalists who talked about the void we often feel in our lives and how that void isn’t what the advertisers tell us it is, namely, we need to buy their product NOW, but rather:

…the void most of us feel is a creative void—we’re so caught up in our consumeristic mindset we forget our inherent need to create. The solution, then, is to create more and consume less—if we spend more time creating, we will spend less time consuming: This is how we move the needle of contentment back to the positive. -The Minimalists

I like the mental picture of moving “the needle of contentment back to the positive,” don’t you?

Consume Less, Create More - Have you ever noticed how easy it is to fall into the habit of learning and taking in information to the point where creativity gets pushed to the back burner? Well, believe me, you're not alone. I'm sharing some thoughts about how to make more room for creativity @ littlegirldesigns.com

So, now that we’ve chatted for a while, what’s the takeaway here? How can we move from being consumers of creative ideas to creators who are making those things come to life? Well, I think in some ways, we need to be careful to not fall into the traps I wrote about regarding perfectionism, procrastination, and comparing. My mom mentioned one day how she doesn’t even know how we (my generation and the ones younger than me) can stand all of the information overload about every area in our lives. She said, rightly, that it makes it difficult to have a clear thought that one can call their own.

There are so many voices out there saying and showing how to do this and that but when it comes down to it, only you can create the life you love. There isn’t a secret system that will pull your life together with a big bow and make you super creative. You can pick up ideas here and there from others but there comes a point when you have to close the book, turn off the computer, put the phone down, and live your life.

Unfortunately, since we are surrounded by a Pinterest world online, we can get the idea that a life of “consuming less and creating more” means:

  • Updating the kitchen with new cabinetry and appliances
  • Redecorating the whole house
  • Finishing all of the scrapbooks for our kids (who already left the house, but no matter)
  • Doing every single project we’ve pinned or ripped out of magazines once and for all

But in truth, Consume Less, Create More will look different to everyone who reads this post.

It might look like:

  • Getting dinner on the table every day of the week
  • Keeping your sketchbook nearby so you can draw ideas throughout the day
  • Not signing up for another class until you implement the concepts you just learned
  • Writing for 20 minutes a day
  • Making a card and writing a few sentences of encouragement in it to a friend

Many of us don’t have all the time (or money or energy) in the world to work on huge projects, and that’s okay. I think that sometimes we feel a little sorry for ourselves that our life circumstances don’t allow for those dream projects to become realities right now (finger pointed at myself here), so instead of doing something, even if it’s small, we don’t do anything at all. Except scroll through our Instagram feed.

So here’s my challenge to myself and to you. Let’s use what we have right now to do what only we can do. Whatever that is.

We’ll still learn and enjoy that process, but we’re going to create margin in our lives to allow our own selves to think and create and make. We’ll try things and sometimes they won’t work out, but we’ll keep stepping forward.

For me, I’m limiting the amount of learning intake that I’m doing this month. I’m not going cold-turkey, but I’m dialing it back. And when I’m tempted, I have a list of things that I actually have been wanting to do that I’m working on. It takes discipline but so far, I’ve been really happy with this process.

I’ve pulled out my Creative Retreat workbook and have been filling up the pages with ideas for the future. And I’ve been making myself actually start some of those ideas (isn’t that the hardest part sometimes?!)

What are your thoughts? How could you consume less so you have more room for creativity in your life?

 

P.S. The Creative Retreat workbook shows you how to DIY your own personal retreats and keep your creative life going year-round. Click here to purchase it on Amazon wherever you live in the world. :)

Use The Creative Retreat book and fill it with your drawings and musings!

Want the Consume Less, Create More printable?

You'll get instant access to the Consume Less, Create More printable mini-poster and join an amazing group of creatives who receive weekly updates about the creative life.

We hate spam as much as you do, and you can unsubscribe anytime. Powered by ConvertKit

17 thoughts on “Consume Less, Create More

  1. Thank you so much for this lovely text Jennie, it is truly helpful. I was thinking this myself these days. I was trying my best to learn more and find as much information I can about the improvements of my blog or topics I should write about, to the point that it made the majority of my day. I had almost no time for creating. Learning is great, but as you said, everyone out there tells us how to do this and that, and it’s easy to forget what we really want to write about and how/when to write it. We are consumed by spending and trying to get everything, instead on living simply and doing what we love. Either way, we have one life and we should live it to the fullest. Hope you are having a great day!

    1. I’m so glad this post resonated with you, Vera! I’m such a big fan of learning, but oh, isn’t it true how we’re so much happier when we are truly ourselves and writing in our own voice? I saw that you’re a writer (via your blog) and hope that you’re inspired to write more and more. Have an amazing day!

  2. Another blogger posted your DO YOUR Thing post and I started reading your older posts. Your words are encouraging and a great reminder to create. If I don’t create, I won’t have anything to share. Creating makes me happy. While I love all the tools and resources available, I tend to follow my own list. Doing everyone else’s projects doesn’t meet my creative needs. Following my own journey is what matters and what will make me happiest.

    1. I love this, “following my own journey is what matters and what will make me happiest.” I couldn’t have said it better. Thank you so much!

  3. I would totally buy your tee shirt! Which kind of goes against the consuming less thing but a girl does need a shirt after all. As an avid Upcycler am l completely embrace the idea of consuming less stuff but I hadn’t really thought about all the other consuming I do mostly via the internet. It is pretty easy to get lost in this vast space of endless information and ideas. Which of course is how I ended up here today. :-) I think I came through Pintrest but for some reason I think there was also a connection to Ruth Soukup? Are you familiar with her blog? I am participating in her 31 days of spending zero challenge and am still working on the cleaning projects she assigned two weeks ago. We have one wall in our family room that is a book shelf and I have been clearing off books for the last couple of days. It’s painful how many of them are educational / training books that I never read or read halfway through. Thanks for your thoughts on consume less and create more. Both of these ideas really resonate with me but I never really linked them together before.

    1. Thanks so much for your comment, Cindy! It wasn’t until recently that I started thinking about all the ‘consumption’ I was doing on the Internet, etc. rather than just creating. I just love learning, but I’ve noticed it can also be {gulp} an excuse of sorts (for me!) Anyway, I’m so glad you stumbled across my blog today. :) And yes, I do know of Ruth Soukup and love her! :) Maybe my pin was on one of her boards on Pinterest. I love that you’re doing the spending zero challenge this month–go you! And oh my goodness, I went through our books this summer and even though I’ve done that before, it was still surprising how many were books we had from college, etc. that were ‘we’ll read this someday’ books. Oops. Anyway, thank you so much for your sweet comment. I really appreciate it! Hope you have a wonderful day. :)

  4. Oh my goodness, I can so relate to this post. I was nodding my head to every point on your checklist. I just can’t help myself though! I LOVE learning new stuff and I can definitely relate to Lauren’s comment in that I loved (and still love) the research part best!

    You’re so right, though, at some point we have to just stop and get on with our own creating. That’s the problem with being creative — we’re so enthusiastic and easily distracted/inspired by EVERYTHING… (Ahem, or is that just me?)

    1. Hi Stacey! No, you’re not the only one who is enthusiastic about being creative and inspired by Everything. Believe me! :) I think that it’s great that you love the research part of creating–that is a great gift. :) I think, depending on what you want your outcomes to be, that it’s okay to focus on one aspect of creativity (i.e. research or planning) since that is a weak area for some creatives. For me, I realized that there were some elements of fear of failing involved as well as it’s just more difficult for me to actually DO the thing rather than read about it…:) Hence, this post was a reminder for ME to slow down on the pretend work and do the brave work (which is the part I actually want to do, ironically!) Thanks so much for your comment, and I hope you have a lovely day! :)

  5. HEY! i just discovered your blog through the peony project’s blog directory. usually i just kinda pop around and respond to blog posts i like, but i’m 100% going to be following your blog. i LOVE THIS. i consume like CRAZY (hello, i have an ALMOST FINISHED blog post for tomorrow in my drafts but here i am blog hopping instead of finishing that post) and this was SPOT ON for what i needed to hear.

    you are awesome. can’t wait to keep following your blog <3

    1. Stephanie, You just made my day–seriously! :) What a kind comment to leave. Today has been one of THOSE days–both my daughter and I are sick so to see this bit of sunshine just made me smile. I really appreciate it. I hope you’re able to finish that post and send it out in the world today or tomorrow. :) I’m totally guilty of doing the same thing! Have a great weekend!

  6. This is super advice. I have been on this end of things many times. There is such pressure to keep up with every opportunity. There is no end to photography workshops, conferences, editing tools, lenses, etc… It can feel like a huge rat race to stay relevant in your field. I took a major breather over August and Sept just to come down from all the pressure to purchase to invest in myself. It just started feeling icky. I know there is wisdom in just using what I currently have to the fullest.

    1. Thanks, Kim. I agree, there is such a constant pressure to invest in oneself. I love it and believe it in it to one extent, but as I mentioned in this post, sometimes I take it too far and need a breather! Ironic, isn’t it? Thanks for stopping by and sharing your insight. Have a great rest-of-the-week…:)

  7. I’m a learning nerd too! I totally relate to your struggles. I’m going to make consume less create more my new motto.

    1. Yay! Learning nerds unite! ;) I’m glad you could relate, Anna. I have to admit, though I’ll never completely stop learning, there’s something to be said for slowing down. It’s been an interesting experiment, personally, and I’m finding that I have more time to contemplate what I’m learning instead of go-go-going to the next thing. :) Hope you have a wonderful day, and thanks for stopping by!

  8. Wow, I can relate to this SO much! In college, I always loved the research phase and would spend way too much time creating index cards in the library and not enough time actually writing the paper…and now, I can see it was a form of procrastination and perfectionism. The longer I could delay the writing process, the safer I felt. (Though of course, it only led to a stressed out panic in those final 24 hours before the paper was due.) I can do this nowadays with wanting to buy craft supplies and distracting myself with growing my stash instead of using what I have…which is MORE than enough. I love this challenge of yours…and I love that you’re putting into words what I haven’t seen many people write about. Way to go and blow my mind with your creative wisdom bombs, as usual! You rock, Jennie!

    1. Preach it, sista! I used to do the same with index cards except to study–I’d spend so much time writing everything neatly on index cards so I could study them that I’d run out of time to study. And I never had the gift of learning by osmosis (aka, by the process of writing). Ah me. Lauren, you know what is so ironic? I wrote this post and then have been tempted like crazy to sign up for more classes in the last week. haha I guess we’re all a work in progress. :) Oh, and thanks so much for your encouragement. You’re the best! :) :)

Comments are closed.