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PRODUCTIVITY

This Simple Productivity Hack Will Double Your Output

One simple, painless way to squeeze more out of your day.

These days, we're all striving for optimal productivity. We want to work, in the words of Daft Punk, "harder, better, faster, stronger." But how? While the web offers a plethora of adages and advice on increasing productivity, there's one simple trick that can greatly boost your productivity. It's simple. You only need to do one thing--ignore the news.

The news is like the cookie monster. It just doesn't know when to stop. It has little to no self-control. News, or the farcical stories that pass today for "news", makes an effort to kidnap every spare moment with its ubiquitous presence while holding productivity ransom. The plain vanilla, hold-the-foam truth is that most of what we categorize as "news" is nothing more than a time sink. A time sink filled with water-skiing squirrels, but a time sink nonetheless.

Why News is Hurting Your Productivity and Why You Don't Need It

-          News is aggressive and rude. It's relentless in seeking attention as it pulls at your shirtsleeves, begging to be noticed on televisions, smartphones, and radios. It whines at you from Twitter, Facebook, your inbox. Anywhere you go, the "news" is sure to follow.

-          It's possessive like a selfish lover. News refuses to relinquish attention, always asking you to click another article, read the full story, watch the exclusive video reel, just give them one more chance.

-          It really doesn't change that much. Most news is the same rehashed drivel, tale as old as time.

-          Most news is trivial and doesn't matter. At. All. Most news so inconsequential that it's embarrassing. Puppies are pulled out of ice sheets, dancing pigs are rescued from the bacon machine. As far as momentous events that will affect your life, 99.9% of the news is irrelevant filler.

-          It's insanely unreliable. New research shows that a glass of red wine before bed is good for your health. Bad for your health. Good for your heath again. Bad for your health again. Does not affect your heath at all.

-          It's bad for your brain. Feed your brain real knowledge, not crummy Chicken McNugget news (Sure, it tastes great as an indulgence, but devouring it every day will only hurt you). Don't forget GIGO--garbage in, garbage out.

-          Most of it is downright depressing. Yes, terrible things happen in the world, but you already knew that. Filling your head with the negativity offered by many "news" sources will do nothing to benefit you. Having a positive outlook on life is extremely important--your attitude affects your career, life satisfaction, and even your physical health. Don't let the news rain on your parade (the parade of life).

-          News sites are all about the money. News isn't created today to enrich your life through learning or keep you up-to-date on current events. Most news sites are covered in ads, begging for clicks. Don't fall victim.

-          It's not actionable. The news can keep us awake at night as we wrestle with tragedies, such as the MH370 airplane disappearance. Unfortunately, there's usually nothing we can do to change such situations. It's more constructive to focus attention on the things we actually have control over.

-          A lot of it is inaccurate or untrue. In an effort to deliver the latest breaking news, news sites are constantly working to push out as many articles as possible, 24/7. This extremely fast turnaround means most news articles are riddled with inaccuracies. Some contain bold-faced lies, as the need to create something "fresh" overrides the need to make something accurate.

-          No one is judging you for not being up-to-date on current events. Most people are way too caught up in their own lives to care if you know who won the presidential election in Zimbabwe.

-          The news that DOES matter will make itself known. The news that truly matters will get to you eventually -a friend will tell you about it, you'll see it in the Sunday paper, etc. Don't stress about missing major events.

-          News is distracting you from what really matters. News makes you give up spare time that you deserve to use for yourself. The sacrafices mount as you surrender a few chapters of the latest New York Times bestseller during your commute, your lunch break, your phone call with an old friend, and, of course, your productivity. The costs of following the "news" add up.

Not all news is bad, and I'm not suggesting you become disinterested in the world around you. However, your attention is a valuable asset. If staying informed on current international event matters to you, limit your news consumption to times where you're stuck and can't do anything else, like listening to NPR during your daily commute.

You have a choice to make. Do you want to know about every piano-playing hamster that's ever graced the Internet? Or do you want to get stuff done--stuff that matters? If you believe productivity is important, it's time to cut the news out of your life, once and for all. Don't worry, you're not missing out on much.

 

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Last updated: Jul 28, 2014

LARRY KIM | Columnist

Larry Kim is the founder and CTO of WordStream, provider of the 20-Minute PPC Work Week and the free AdWords Grader. You can subscribe here to Larry’s business growth tips by email.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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