Stop Yourself from Becoming Content Fried and Free Your Mind to be Productive

Content fried is the point we reach when we subject ourselves to too much data. It commonly affects content curators but it can affect any of us. The “always on” Internet may be a blessing much of the time but it can also be a curse.

The term “content fried” was defined Beth Kanter, who is a trainer, researcher, speaker and motivator.

Content fried is when we’re subject to too much data. Beth Kanter coined the term and I do have the symptoms!

How Do I Know If I’m Content Fried?

Well firstly, you might want to consider if any of the obvious symptoms apply to you:

  • Are you online all the time? Is your smartphone in your hand when you’re not in front of your computer?
  • When you go offline does it cause you to feel anxiety? Like there’s something missing in your life?
  • When you’re online do you spend more than 30 minutes staring at the screen without taking any kind of break?
  • Are you always checking social media, e-mails, etc.? Even in the bathroom?
  • Are you finding it hard to concentrate on tasks? Are you easily distracted when looking online and find yourself wandering the net in order to procrastinate?
  • Reading/posting articles is driving you crazy – you’re looking at the screen and things just aren’t working for you.
  • You’ve read so much on a given topic that it’s stopped making any kind of sense at all.

The more times that you think, “yes, that’s how I feel or behave” – the more likely it is that you’ve become content fried.

How to Cope With Being Content Fried

The good news is that you don’t have to stay content fried. You can take action to address the problem and free up your mind to focus on things that are more important.

Step 1: Recognize the Problem

Author/Copyright holder: Fatima. Copyright terms and licence: CC BY-NC 2.0

You can’t address an issue that you don’t believe exists. You need to acknowledge that your data habits are causing you issues in your life. The worst cases of people who are content fried are when they’ve let the data habit get so deep that they’ve stopped interacting with people in real life – in favour of interacting only online.

Step 2: Decide Where Your Focus Belongs

If you’d like to get back on track, you also need to decide which track you want to be on. You need to decide what your goals (or objectives) and personal priorities are. It can be helpful to write them down and pin them somewhere visible so that they act as a regular reminder of what really matters.

Step 3: Be Mindful of What You’re Doing

Breaking a habit means being aware of the habit and then questioning it. When you find yourself wasting time online; stop and ask why. Then ask what you should be doing instead. Then go do it. This is the easiest way to break out of being content fried.

Step 4: Make Sure Not to Go Too Far

There are days when you’re going to need to develop your research and go from place to place to better understand information relationships. Don’t be afraid of this but do make sure it’s really necessary before you do it.

Handy Habits for Avoiding Becoming Content Fried

There are some useful ways to develop your personal habits so that they constantly make it hard to become content fried:

  • Keep your personal space ordered and organized. It’s harder to become mentally cluttered when our physical environment is not cluttered.
  • Develop a work pattern (for example 45 minutes of work and then a 15 minute break) and make sure you’re working when you say you will. If necessary, move to somewhere with no internet to do the work.
  • Develop a personal routine such as wake up, have breakfast… through to… come home, read a book, go to bed. Routines help build order and can be very comforting too.
  • Stop checking e-mails and social media all the time. Set precise times of the day to check in on these (perhaps 3 times a day) and then stick to it.
  • Learn to plan your days. Go through your day tomorrow and plan to deliver what’s important.

The Take Away

Author/Copyright holder: Jorge Franganillo. Copyright terms and licence: CC BY 2.0

Becoming content fried prevents you from achieving what you really want to do both personally and professionally. You can develop simple routines that enable you to reach your goals and without neglecting anything important in your life. If you’re struggling to create those routines – why not consider working with an Interaction Design Foundation coach to get professional assistance?


Find out what Beth has to say about content fried in detail here:

Read Beth’s tips on overcoming being content fried on her blog here:

Find out more about the Interaction Design Foundation’s coaching program here


Hero Image: Author/Copyright holder: Paul Townsend. Copyright terms and licence: CC BY-NC 2.0

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