A note from Rach Smith's digital garden

Creating vs. Consuming

Added: February 4, 2022

Tags: wellbeing productivity

One of the things I tend to overthink about is whether I’m getting the consuming vs. creating balance right.

Why do I even care about how much I create vs. how much I consume?

One of my core values is creativity, and I consider being creative a part of my identity. It is important to me that I’m not spending all of my time just consuming people’s content via reading, listening and watching and I am instead using my brain and imagination to create something of my own.

The desire to create has served me well, but beating myself up over it isn’t helpful

This habit of obsessing whether I create enough is another facet of my experience with time anxiety. It’s true that I don’t get to make art, write, and spend time just jamming on my ideas like I used to in the pre-kid days. But comparing my current self to previous versions of myself is just unfair and unreasonable.

I got to brain-dumping about what bothers me and came up with some new soundtracks1 to tell myself instead.

I do have time to create when I stop trying to make that time perfect

The story that I don’t have time to create isn’t entirely true. I do get little pockets of time most days. 20 minutes here and there, where I could be creating instead of consuming. I don’t pull out the laptop to code or write instead of opening Instagram because I tell myself I need longer uninterrupted chunks of time to do anything decent. This may be so, but 20 minutes of attention would yield more output than 0.

20 minutes, 5 days a week, for a 30 day month is 6.6 hours of creative time. I could make something cool with that.

I create all the time, even if that isn’t in the form of making art

Despite what my mind tells me, I actually create for most of the day every day. I create at my day job for CodePen. I create meals for my family. I create good times for my children at home, in the car, out at the park and beach. I create a calm and peaceful home. I co-create plans for our future with Andy.

If I don’t have time to create, I can be intentional about the quality of the content I’m consuming

My goal is to consume content that is high quality: that is educational or seriously entertaining. I would ideally limit medium quality content and avoid bottom-of-the-barrel content.

An example of medium quality content is listening to finance or productivity podcasts that tell me things I already know. Sure it feels good to bask in the warm glow of confirmation bias and feel so clever, but it’s not helping me grow, and it’s not particularly joyful or entertaining.

Bottom of the barrel content is the comment threads in the ‘Sunshine Coast Mums’ Facebook group (why?! why do I read them?!) or the extremely shit reels that the Instagram algorithm pushes at me. Just no.


  1. ‘Soundtracks’ is a term used by Jon Acuff in his book of the same name. They’re the stories and beliefs you tell yourself, and he suggests you create new ones to change your perspective.


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