It has only been two weeks, just two weeks and I am already tired to the point of exhaustion. I am tired of waking up to a barrage of Trump tweets. When I turn on the TV, news anchors are talking about Trump’s foreign policy disasters. I am tired of the Senate hearings, that allow Senators to grandstand on principle but vote by party. I am tired of my Facebook feed.
I once caught myself saying, “give Trump a break, he was just cracking a joke.” Herein lies the danger. In an age where everything is connected, you find he is on your phone, your tablet and your TV. Soon you began to normalize him. Speech and behavior that would have once be sensational began to be mundane. You find yourself asking, why is the media being so serious about it?
At the pace I was going I would have burnt out trying to keep up with the news, so in order to keep my sanity, I have made a game plan to keep informed but not so connected.
STEP 1: Remove all Trump Twitter Notifications
I want to know what he is thinking but waking up to Trump tweets is a horrible way to start the day. Most news outlets will cover them and I will still see his tweets in my twitter feed, I just won’t see them first thing in the morning or during work hours. It gives me back control. I hear from him only when I am prepared to, not anytime he wants me to.
STEP 2: Forgo the morning broadcast.
Usually, nothing of importance happens between 10 pm and 7 am central standard time. As a result news anchors can only go over the doom and gloom from the day before or tell me about the doom and gloom they expect that day. I don’t need a recap of the events the day before because I learned about them at 10p the night before and I don’t want to head off into a new day expecting more of the same. If it happens I will learn about it after work.
Step 3: Subscribe to a newspaper
I subscribed to the New York Times. I read “The Morning Briefing” instead of the listening to the news. It tells me what to expect during the day without the sensationalism, talking heads and commercials and it only takes about 15 minutes to read!
Step4: Subscribe to the BBC World News Podcast.
I want to know what is happening in the world beyond the borders of the US. This podcast covers all of the continents and provides insightful reporting. It publishes two podcasts a day, one in the morning and one in the evening. They are no more than 40 minutes long, making it perfect for the morning and evening commutes.
Step 5: Look at one evening news show.
This is a hard one because I like hearing everyone’s perspective but unless you are going from CNN to FOX, the perspective is the same, the only thing that changes is the anchor. There is just not enough news that happens on a national level to justify 24-hour news. Rather you find yourself watching a news loop where they repeat everything at the top of the next hour. I choose an hour each day, usually at night, to watch the news and then turn it off.
Step 6: Keep up to date on breaking news with sensible notifications
For the news that I need to know when I am not catching up on news, I use news notification services. For news happening outside of the US, I rely on the BBC’s World News notifications, for everything else I use the notifications from New York Times and the Washington Post. I like these services because they send notifications sparingly and for actual news, not entertainment. It keeps me from living in a mood of angst, constantly checking the news for the latest damage. Rather I can live my day and if something happens that I need to know about, all I have to do is look at my phone or watch.
Step 7: Read the Economist over the Weekend
This magazine has a good balance of world affairs and economics, It adds an economic dimension to what is happening in the world.
Step 8: Seek Out Friends
At one point after the election, I stopped going out with friends but now, I started having brunch on the weekends and dinner and drinks after work again. They do not agree with me all of the time but it allows me to express my thoughts instead of keeping them bottled up.
Step 9: Get involved
The quickest way toward feeling overwhelmed and burnt out is to stretch yourself too thin. We have at least 4 years, this is a marathon and not a sprint. Figure out the cause that keeps you awake at night and go to work. When I work toward a goal I don’t feel helpless but empowered
Minimizing my daily dose of Trump has given me time to think. Not listening to the same information over and over again, has given me perspective and venturing out to more traditional news coverage has allowed me to filter conjecture from fact. When taken togeather, instead of watching the news all day and feeling helpless against the onslaught of unfolding events, I now have time to think and plan my next moves as a citizen. I am more informed about all the day’s events, not just the sensational ones and I am much more informed about what is happening in the world at large. I hope that you will fill the same way too.