I’m the type of person that craves information. In work, in life, and always I want to know what’s going on.
Information helps me feel connected and allows me to make better decisions.
I think this is why I used to crave the hit of dopamine I got when my phone lit up with a news push notification.
The sugar rush of being the first to know
Just as journalists rush to be the first to break the news, I rushed to be the first to consume it. There was a period where I was getting 100-150 (best guess) push notifications a day about the news, sports, etc. And frankly, I’m not at all a news junkie but it felt good to be an “informed citizen.”
I loved the hit of dopamine. I loved the pride that came with knowing I was well-informed. And I loved the feeling of knowing something before those around me.
But I started to realize something as time went on with my push notification slot machine.
See, I have a cushy little bean bag that holds my phone and it sits right below my computer monitors at work. It was great so I could easily see if a notification came without having to tap on my phone.
Well, it was great until it wasn’t.
Continuously breaking focus
Naturally, when a push notification came in I’d divert my attention to read it. I would break whatever state of flow I was in and I’d have a hard time getting it back. This repeated time and time again throughout the day as the pop of dopamine lit up my screen.
But then I started to realize something else. Not only was I punching my flow in the gut, but when I’d divert my attention to read the alert, I wasn’t comprehending anything it said.
My brain was trying so hard to tell me something. If only I knew what it was!
Slowly I started to pare back my notifications. Then I read Farhad Manjoo's March 2018 column in the New York Times about how he went for two months without consuming any digital news. No web articles, no push notifications, no email, no social media. He relied only on the daily print edition of the paper.
Rebuilding once-daily news consumption
Going to daily print news didn’t seem quite right for me. But I latched onto the idea of getting back on the once-daily news cycle. Now, every morning I consume news and that’s it until I repeat it the next morning.
It felt a little scary at first. I’m not only happier, I actually feel more informed than ever. I’m in control of planning conscious time to digest the news vs. trying to make sense of a disconnected piece of the story flashing in front of me when I didn’t wish for it.
I have yet to wish I learned something as it broke.
How to create this system for yourself
If any of my story sounds like you, I’d highly encourage you to explore what a once-daily news cycle would look like for you. I would include whatever kind of news (hard news, sports, celebrity gossip, etc) you consume into this architecture for yourself.
Here’s my current configuration:
- I subscribe to four well-written morning email newsletters for national news, local news, and industry-specific
- Instead of subscribing to these newsletters with my traditional inbox like Gmail, I just started using the Stoop app (no affiliation). It’s an app designed specifically for newsletters, creates a better reading experience, and allows you to escape the noise of your inbox.
- I read them spread out between my ferry ride commute and over breakfast.
Ready to downsize your relationship with work and quit burnout?
Hi, I'm Grant Gurewitz. I'm on a mission to end burnout at work. I've been in tech for 10 years (ex-Zillow, current: Qualtrics) who suffered deep burnout and came back from it with no help of the hacky advice out there.
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