I have a passion for reading and researching the latest technology trends, business trends, what the competition is doing, etc.
This information can be important for trending and for context but I've found that it is more time effective for me to be spending more of my up-front time talking to clients and other stakeholders to understand their pain points first. It is in these discussions that great ideas come from.
Once I understand a pain point it sets me in motion to then figure out what the opportunity is. It is at this point when that external research that I love to do can then happen. A big benefit of this approach is that the research can be much more specific as I know the opportunity I need to figure out.