No matter what your business does or how busy you are, without a grasp of current events you risk losing touch with our fast-paced society and even your employees. You'll be less informed on topics that may help you relate to everyone else.
The challenge is finding a balance between following news -- and not letting it take over your life. According to the American Psychological Association, 56 percent of adults admit that the news causes them stress.
For business success, you want to enhance your knowledge, gain power from your reading -- and not waste critical moments on, well, waste. Too much time and energy spent on consumption takes away from doing your best at work.
Here are six strategies to optimize your news intake so you can stay informed, but also stay productive with your business:
1. Subscribe to newsletters you trust.
With so much content produced on the internet every day, it makes sorting news sources yourself a difficult process.
Instead, use newsletters to filter content. Whether you need to stay up-to-date with politics, tech, automotive -- or any other vertical -- there are people and companies curating content for you.
By optimizing your use of newsletters, you can limit distractions. It's your choice, so choose well. Can you trust that your sources are giving you relevant headlines -- ones that prevent you from spending time grazing on non-essential sites?
In my case, since part of my job at this column is keeping up to date with the latest in business/tech news, I've signed up for newsletters that deliver that relevant content to me.
2. Consume when you're less likely to get stressed.
With every would-be journalist now walking around with a recording device -- we can all quickly access daily viral, newsworthy events. We of course also get stuck on less newsworthy content like memes, gossip and entertainment news. Such distractions suck away energy that should be spent on vital business responsibilities. So, at least while you're working, use conscious thought when consuming news.
For me, reading scary headlines about the state of the world in the morning, for example, gets my day off to a shaky start. Those fears sometimes resonate all day long. I'd much rather start my day with a quiet breakfast or even meditation. I tend to check the news for the first time just before lunch or in the early afternoon.
Find times that work best for you -- when your mind can wander (after work, before dinner, during a midday break). Focus on the news right when you're reading it -- without letting it consume time when you should be working.
3. Cap yourself to a level of daily consumption.
Setting daily consumption times based on your bandwidth will prevent you from spending more time on news than you'd like.
Set timers for yourself and alter the number of minutes based on what works for your goals and your ever-changing schedule. I find that 30 minutes of news consumption during the course of a work day is my upper limit.
4. Carefully consider who you talk to about news.
Other people can dramatically affect how you internalize news. We all know that person who tends to start pointless arguments. These folks represent a giant time-suck. Be careful around them and keep conversation limited.
On the other hand, someone knowledgeable about given topics can share and explain information to you in an educated and concise way. Find people you trust who can compliment the information you consume instead of hindering your news intake.
5. Consume from diverse sources.
It's critical to absorb and incorporate ideas from a diverse set of opinions. Homogeneous newsletters and your two like-minded close friends could force you into rote thinking. That's often not good for business.
You can use news to practice critical thinking, challenge assumptions and broaden how you see current events and people. Daily challenges to your analytical thinking can help you be more productive, directly improving your business and the rest of your life.
6. Read what you find interesting.
With such a wide array of topics out there, you can learn almost anything. I recommend focusing on what you most enjoy, because in the long run it will help sharpen core skills.
In other words, don't read a 3000-word article about the latest in solar energy just because your friends say it's informative. Consume what you really want to learn about. It'll help you move in a direction of following goals that deliver the most satisfaction for you.