Experiment 27

Less frequent news

What does it involve?

Find ways to stop yourself from checking the news compulsively. Be more selective about where you read your news, and set aside time on a less requent basis to read and catch up.

From batch 5 of our weekly series of Lab Tests

Each week we release two new experiments from the Digital Habit Lab, launching on Kickstarter later this year.

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Why do it?

  • Relieve anxiety—Humans have a negativity bias, which means we will pay more attention to things which are bad. While this has evolutionary benefits, this has been exploited by news outlets who understand what sells; drama and tragedy. Each time we read the news we are opening up our stress circuits for a fresh hit.
  • Focus—Micro distractions are a major cause of ending the day feeling like you haven't achieved what you had set out to. By reducing your compulsion to regularly hit refresh on your favourite news feed you can greatly increase your capacity for focus and deep work.
  • Broaden your sources—We often end up getting stuck within a bubble in relation to the news that we consume. There are an increasing number of high quality, slow cadence news sources which not only help you check less but open you up to new perpectives.

Tips

  • Try and notice what situations or events are the biggest trigger which cause you to start checking the news compulsively.
  • Experiment with different sources of news, either digital or physically published, and observe which ones are more condusive to this type of consumption.