Are you still refreshing the news?

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This is my weekly installment of “writing about writing,” in which I scan the world to find websites, books and articles to help other writers. Today I discuss a blog post about why we should stop refreshing the news…

Have you heard? There’s a pandemic.

Of course, you know that fact already! So why are you checking the news every 10 minutes?

Ever since CNN was launched in 1980 (and its ‘must watch’ reputation was burnished by the Persian Gulf War in 1991) we have become addicted to watching news on the go, every moment of the day and night.

But here’s the thing about this pandemic: It’s not going to be ‘solved’ until there’s a vaccine or a treatment — and both of those events are likely at least a year away. Do you really want to watch the news every hour until then?

A recent blog post by productivity expert Chris Bailey appeared under the headline, “How to Not Keep Refreshing the News.” I’ve long appreciated Chris’s common-sense approach to staying productive and I thought he  nailed it with this post.

Among other points, Chris suggested that we start our days by doing something ‘slow,’ before we check our phones or our computers for news updates. As he puts it:

How we spend our mornings sets the tone for the entire day. By starting your day on an anxious note by checking the news, you’re more likely to check the news more often and feel anxious the remainder of the day, too. Start the day on a slow note: drink your morning coffee or tea with a good book, or with your partner or a friend over video chat if you live alone. You’ll feel a lot calmer when you start the day slowly.

So, stop refreshing your news feed so often. It won’t change the news. It won’t make the pandemic go away. But it will make you feel a whole lot better, and perhaps give you the mental space to do a bit of writing.

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