14 Reasons to Ignore the News and Boost Productivity

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boost productivity

These days, we’re all striving for optimal productivity. We want to work, in the words of Daft Punk, “harder, better, faster, stronger.” But how? While the web offers a plethora of adages and advice on increasing productivity, there’s one simple trick that can greatly boost your productivity. It’s simple. You only need to do one thing–ignore the news.

The news is like the cookie monster. It just doesn’t know when to stop. It has little to no self-control. News, or the farcical stories that pass today for “news”, makes an effort to kidnap every spare moment with its ubiquitous presence while holding productivity ransom. The plain vanilla, hold-the-foam truth is that most of what we categorize as “news” is nothing more than a time sink. A time sink filled with water-skiing squirrels, but a time sink nonetheless.

Why News is Hurting Your Productivity and Why You Don’t Need It

1. News is Aggressive and Rude

It’s relentless in seeking attention as it pulls at your shirtsleeves, begging to be noticed on televisions, smartphones, and radios. It whines at you from Twitter, Facebook, your inbox. Anywhere you go, the “news” is sure to follow.

2. It’s Possessive like a Selfish Lover

News refuses to relinquish attention, always asking you to click another article, read the full story, watch the exclusive video reel, just give them one more chance.

3. It Really Doesn’t Change that Much

Most news is the same rehashed drivel, a tale as old as time.

4. Most News is Trivial and Doesn’t Matter

At. All. Most news so inconsequential that it’s embarrassing. Puppies are pulled out of ice sheets, dancing pigs are rescued from the bacon machine. As far as momentous events that will affect your life, 99.9 percent of the news is irrelevant filler.

5. It’s Insanely Unreliable

New research shows that a glass of red wine before bed is good for your health. Bad for your health. Good for your heath again. Bad for your health again. Does not affect your heath at all.

6. It’s Bad for Your Brain

Feed your brain real knowledge, not crummy Chicken McNugget news (Sure, it tastes great as an indulgence, but devouring it every day will only hurt you). Don’t forget GIGO–garbage in, garbage out.

7. Most of it is Downright Depressing

Yes, terrible things happen in the world, but you already knew that. Filling your head with the negativity offered by many “news” sources will do nothing to benefit you. Having a positive outlook on life is extremely important–your attitude affects your career, life satisfaction, and even your physical health. Don’t let the news rain on your parade (the parade of life).

8. News Sites are All About the Money

News isn’t created today to enrich your life through learning or keep you up-to-date on current events. Most news sites are covered in ads, begging for clicks. Don’t fall victim.

9. It’s Not Actionable

The news can keep us awake at night as we wrestle with tragedies, such as the MH370 airplane disappearance. Unfortunately, there’s usually nothing we can do to change such situations. It’s more constructive to focus attention on the things we actually have control over.

10. A Lot of it is Inaccurate or Untrue

In an effort to deliver the latest breaking news, news sites are constantly working to push out as many articles as possible, 24/7. This extremely fast turnaround means most news articles are riddled with inaccuracies. Some contain bold-faced lies, as the need to create something “fresh” overrides the need to make something accurate.

11. No One is Judging You for Not Being Up-to-Date on Current Events

Most people are way too caught up in their own lives to care if you know who won the presidential election in Zimbabwe.

12. The News that DOES Matter will Make Itself Known

The news that truly matters will get to you eventually -a friend will tell you about it, you’ll see it in the Sunday paper, etc. Don’t stress about missing major events.

13. News is Distracting You From What Really Matters

News makes you give up spare time that you deserve to use for yourself. The sacrifices mount as you surrender a few chapters of the latest New York Times bestseller during your commute, your lunch break, your phone call with an old friend, and, of course, your productivity. The costs of following the “news” add up.

14. News Outlets are Biased and have Little Interest in ‘the Truth’

Long gone are the days when news sources were interested in “the truth.” Today’s sensationalist news coverage has more in common with entertainment than it does with actual news, and there’s no such thing as an impartial, unbiased news outlet. The news you’re presented with is the news that someone else wants you to know, not what’s really happening.

Not all news is bad, and I’m not suggesting you become disinterested in the world around you. However, your attention is a valuable asset. If staying informed on current international event matters to you, limit your news consumption to times where you’re stuck and can’t do anything else, like listening to NPR during your daily commute.

You have a choice to make. Do you want to know about every piano-playing hamster that’s ever graced the Internet? Or do you want to get stuff done–stuff that matters? If you believe productivity is important, it’s time to cut the news out of your life, once and for all. Don’t worry, you’re not missing out on much.

Changing channels photo via Shutterstock

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Larry Kim Larry Kim founded WordStream in 2007. He serves as company CTO and is the author of 4 Award-Winning Books on Software Development. Larry also blogs at the WordStream Blog and practices photography in his spare time.

6 Reactions
  1. Well said Larry. I’m all for being well informed, but most “news” today is sensationalized and not helpful for information anyway.

    • Hi Robert,
      Thanks for your comment. For clarification here, what Larry is really talking about is the importance of becoming more selective about your attention and focus. We might make the same warning about watching too much TV or too many YouTube videos. It’s a question of who commands your attention — and it really had better be you. But also, I think this is not unlike the so-called low-information diet Tim Ferriss talks about. The implication (like any other diet) is not just that you consume less, but that you consume the right things and avoid what’s bad for you.

  2. Yes irrelevant & unnecessary news needs to be avoided for not only boosting productivity level, but at the same time confidence level too.

  3. Hi Mr. Burgess. You have said a very good line, ” irrelevant & unnecessary news needs to be avoided for not only boosting productivity level, but at the same time confidence level too”. This kind of news is really bad for our brain and mind.

  4. I agree. I only check the news when it is for information purposes (a storm is coming or something that will affect me) all the other drama can go out the door. I would rather immerse myself in other forms of media.

  5. I fully agree with this. It’s one of the first things my second mentor taught me, that what is happening in the network and cable news has no true bearing on my day to day life 90% of the time, other than to make me depressed. I switched to industry news.