Are you a "doomscroller" - someone who consumes excessive amounts of news? I am. I feel it's important to stay informed, especially with all that is going on in the world.
But... and it's a big but... too much news can be overwhelming and divert us from positive action. In January, Chris Bailey, author of Hyperfocus, illustrated this at one of our events with some powerful research.
Chris isn't advising that we ignore the news altogether but, as with anything in life, understand how it affects you and moderate how you consume it. As he points out, our mind "perceives [the news] as a threat and anxiety is a response to the perception of threat." This fascinating BBC article from 2020 reveals how it can "meddle with our lives in surprising ways." It can not only undermine our mental health but even our physical health. Most of us will have increased how much news we consume over the past couple of years and you would have to be very robust not to be deeply troubled by recent events. It's likely to be having some kind of impact on how we feel.
So think about this when you are consuming the news... Are you looking in the right place? Are you filling in the gaps with facts or just more uncertainty? Is learning the same thing on repeat helpful? Follow some of Chris's tips to find some calm amid the chaos:
- Schedule when you check the news or social media and do so for a limited time - make it intentional.
- Don't read it first thing, allow yourself some calm time, do some focused work and only after that should you schedule time for distraction.
- Pop your phone into grayscale mode. This is a great way to prevent both the temptations of the infinite scroll on social media and "doomscrolling" through live news feeds.
- Turn off news and social media notifications to avoid being distracted during your focused time.
It's easy to feel helpless at times like these so focus on what you can do. It's not quite 'Keep calm and carry on," currently that feels a tad glib. Instead, find calm and focus, stay informed in a healthy way and be in "control the controllables". It will take effort and intent but, as Chris's excellent session highlighted, productivity is intricately intertwined with mental health.
After all, we can't help others if we don't help ourselves first.
Check out Chris Bailey's website for more transformational tips on how to live a more productive life.