One out of every four Americans follows the news in the morning. Even more choose to follow the news throughout the day. So what value does it bring? Very little according the science. And it actually delivers some harmful unintended consequences.
The Negative Effect of News
Negative news can trigger the limbic system. The body will release cortisol as a result. Elevated cortisol levels can impair digestion, lower the immune system, and negatively impact sleep quality. Combine it with a few cups of coffee during the day, constant interruptions from email notifications, a sugary treat, and a stressful commute and you’ve built a recipe for a major health hazard. Definitely not a way to double your productivity.
Let me ask another question. What news have you read over the past two months that has caused a positive change in your behavior? If none, why continue to ingest it? In fact, by continually reading and not acting, you build an association between the two. Now when you read something important that should cause behavior change, you have less power to do it. You have associated reading with information exchange only.
News can degrade the ability to concentrate. Jumping from headline to headline and skimming articles makes it more difficult to focus and do deep work when required. Online news only exacerbates the problem. Canadian researchers showed how comprehension decreases as hyperlinks in a text increase. When confronted with a hyperlink, your mind must make a decision – to click or to keep reading. That slight interruption erodes our concentration. (Notice how I’ve removed all links within the body and placed them at the end. I certainly don’t want to make us dumber.)
So, what’s the answer?
Double Your Productivity
If you want to double your productivity, ditch the news-reading ritual and replace it with ten minutes of meditation. Train your brain to focus intently. If you make the switch, you’ll find out just how far your brain has drifted from center. If you find it difficult, don’t give up. That mere fact makes the practice of meditation all the more valuable. Start small and build up. Embrace the struggle. Consider how the challenge physically changes your brain.
For tips on how to meditate, go here.