It's all too easy to spend your time as a content consumer. Scrolling an infinitely loading Instagram/Facebook/Quora feed requires minimal effort.
Being an avid reader, I convinced myself that I was better than that. The books I read were filled with interesting facts, observations and ideas. After finishing any good book, I would invariably feel that twitch of the brain, having just embraced a perspective I hadn't considered before, or discovering the existence of an issue to which I was completely oblivious.
However, while the content laid out in front of me might have been of higher quality - ultimately I was still a consumer.
I was confusing the act of creating new space in my mind for the author's point of view with the actual act of creation.
Why is this distinction important? - Because unless you are actively reflecting and questioning, you might as well be turning yourself into a victim of propaganda - and simply be accommodating the viewpoint you heard last.
So how can one avoid this? Well, my grandfather (a professor of History) had the absolute right idea here when he encouraged 6-year-old me to write a book review every time I finished reading a book. 6-year-old-me promptly dismissed his advice - because why spend valuable time writing a book review when I could be reading more books, right? But 23-year-old-me couldn't agree with him more.
Something as small as a book review is your creation. It's YOUR perspective, a collection of YOUR thoughts. It forces you to think critically.
So I started to ask myself the question when I read something - "What did I like in this book?". And I wanted a better answer than "It kept me entertained."
And while this was certainly a good question to ask, it still had it's shortcomings in that the answers often tend to be simple points of agreement with the author. I've found a much more interesting question to be - "What could have been done better?"
tl;dr - keep aside time to reflect on what you've consumed.