There's bad news if you're addicted to the news. All of that late-breaking negativity is killing your productivity. I can appreciate wanting to be an informed citizen. However, the way that news is fed to us doesn't actually make us smarter, better equipped to handle our own lives or more motivated to work toward our goals.
We are actually subjecting our brains to an onslaught of information designed to "hook us in" that leaves us frazzled, stressed and unsure of what to make of anything.
Think about it for a second. Did any of those continuous political articles you scrolled through this week leave you in a better place? Did gasping along to the play-by-play details of a recent crime spree prime your brain for a long work session? In both cases, the news actually clogged the parts of your brain that could be taking in information to help you make useful decisions.
I would go as far as to say that the news is actually robbing you of your time and money. Nobody outside of the media industry earns money while reading the news.
I realize that what I'm saying here is probably inflammatory enough to get the ghost of Walter Cronkite after me. That's why I'm going to give you a solution for staying on top of the news without getting stuck before I wrap things up. First, I want to really dive into what the news is doing to our brains.
This Is Your Brain on News
The news churns out negative stories because we're hopelessly addicted to them! As part of our survival mechanism, we want to hear about all of the dangers that lurk around us in order to be prepared.
The problem is that our brains were never designed to hear about all of the bad news happening everywhere on the globe all of the time. Our brains are really bad at telling the difference between a real, immediate threat and a very distant, irrelevant threat.
We get hooked. The news agencies get rich. Nobody gets anything worthwhile done because your panic receptors are buzzing out of control. We emerge from reading or watching the news with our systems supercharged with cortisol and other stress-response chemicals.
If you have some happy go lucky kids in the house, keeping the news on all the time trains their brains to be stressed and afraid from the earliest of ages. Hearing about a tragic event thousands of miles away activates all of the same stress responses that would be going off if the perpetrator knocked on your own door.
This creates a real mess because researches are well aware of the fact that a brain that's "on stress" fails to learn properly.
For adults, a stressed brain makes it harder to learn new skills, take in information that's important for making decisions and act with a rational perspective. Not exactly the kind of state you want to be in when plotting some long-term financial and business decisions.
It's no wonder why so many people feel clouded all of the time. We've come to believe that being in a stress-responding, panicked state is just how we're supposed to feel!
Do you want to break free with me? Next, take a look at my ultra-easy news detox plan. The best part is that you're still going to be informed without being frazzled.
Headline Detox: The Easy News Withdrawal Plan
It's time to break up with the news. As I promised, you're not simply locking yourself in a closet to avoid all bad and interesting things in the world. Here's the plan to scale it back without becoming totally uninformed:
1. Block news alerts from your phone. "Just a peek" doesn't work when you're doing a news detox. Those news apps you've downloaded know exactly how to hook you by pushing notifications that are going to get you to click.
2. If you can't help yourself, uninstall news apps if necessary. You might need to actually block popular news sites that you visit if your fingers are in the habit of instinctually wandering to these pages.
3. Remember that someone will tell you if there's a big news event you need to know about. Don't let FOMO (fear of missing out) about big events keep you glued to your phone. If there's something worth knowing, you'll hear about it. Everything else is just junk that your brain has to filter out!
4. Sign up for a daily email newsletter. This is great for a few reasons. First, you get to decide when to open the email to read it. You'll know that it's waiting with all of the info you want to hear about without the pressure to constantly check back a thousand times a day. Next, you can read it slowly and completely without competing headlines and flashing buttons from apps and websites.
This is probably a good time to tell you about the Morning Brew once-a-day news email. This is a comprehensive, short daily newsletter that covers tons of interesting stuff for people who are only interested in news they can use.
Morning Brew lets you read and digest need-to-know info in a 2-minute read! As a plus, readers can participate in prize draws for big giveaways like MacBookPros. When's the last time you got a MacBookPro for reading CNN or Fox News?
Ditch All the News That's Fit to Print
If you want to be productive, you don't have to give up news completely. You just have to do news smarter. Challenge yourself to do a month-long news detox by just relying on a concise news email to see how much more you can get done!
I predict that the big headline will be that you never want to go back to the way you used to consume news again!