Today is a historic day in the United States: the US Senate will begin an impeachment trial of a United States President for only the third time in history.
The last time this happened, it was a circus, and social media did not exist in its current form. This time the level of obsession could reach new highs (lows?).
How can you stay productive with this circus going on?
The advice I’m going to share applies to the impeachment trial and all other news. It will come in handy this year as we also navigate the circus of a presidential election as well as any other news surprises.
Here’s the solution:
Don’t watch it.
Don’t watch it live. Don’t watch replays. Don’t talk about it with people at the office or online. Limit how much you read about it.
The Cost of Knowing
We are bombarded with information and news all day. Information is easy to consume, and it easily consumes us, stealing our attention, energy, time, and focus from the things that matter most.
Consider what happens when you watch or read the news.
- You invested time in consuming it that you could have used for something else, including the rest that you think you don’t have time for.
- You give it your attention not only while reading/watching, but also after you finish, as you react to it, think about it and discuss it with others.
- You give it energy and emotion, by attaching to the outcome of what happens or what you don’t want to happen.
Doesn’t your investment of time, energy, emotion, or attention pay better dividends when invested elsewhere?
The Discernment Questions
I’ve been interested in the mechanics of journalism and news for most of my life. A part of me will always be a news junkie. When I find myself getting pulled to the news I have to pull myself back and remind myself where I want to direct my focus.
Here are a few questions I like to ask myself to pull myself back into focus on what matters:
- Do I need to know this?
- If yes, do I need to know this right now?
- Can I control anything about this situation?
- Can I influence this situation?
- How is this useful to me right now?
- Will this impact my decisions in the immediate future?
This last one is crucial for the impeachment trial. You may justify your watching as a measure of being a good, informed citizen, which is important.
Consider this: will watching the trial really impact your vote in the 2020 election?
My guess is that for most people it will not. Whatever position you have now, this process will likely intensify that for you.
If it will influence your vote, do you need to watch it live, or can you get what you need by reading a few articles and watching a highlight reel?
Only you can answer.
Remember, the information you consume consumes you. You’re not obligated to take it all in.