Confessions of a Reformed News Junkie

A career in Corporate Affairs means a career immersed in the news. For many years my corporate roles involved knowing exactly what was happening across the political and business landscape of Australia and Internationally.

It was normal to get a call first thing in the morning from any number of senior leaders and (by morning, I mean any time after 5 am was fair game) The discussions would usually revolve around what the business needed to be doing to avoid or proactively capitalise on the day’s news.

On a ‘good day,’ these calls would normally start anywhere from 7 am. So being across the news before then was critical, if not paramount to my job. A good story is everyone’s goals but more often than not in issues management, your goal is to stay out of the media. One bad story or a miss quote can impact the share price and no one wants to be responsible for that.

When I went on maternity leave, along with tending to a newborn baby at all hours of the night (of course I had to get the baby that slept no more than 2 consecutive hours and woke at 5 am on the dot), I would also read the news. It was at this time that my addiction to US politics really kicked in. I was so obsessed with the Republican Primary that I’m sure I bored everyone I knew to tears. 

Waking up and reading the news is a habit so ingrained in me that even now when I no longer work in issues management for large corporates, that I still find myself slipping into old habits and spending hours going deep on a particular issue. 

When I started working for myself I moved well away from the 24 hr news cycle and I spent more time listening to podcasts and reading non-fiction books, doing courses and exploring other interests. This helped me to develop myself my own curiosities rather than consuming what was given to me by mainstream media.

COVID 19, however, brought all that to a grinding halt. At one point I was checking the news around 3 times during the night and would have the radio on all day and watch every press conference across Australia. As a result, I can now identify every Premier and Health Minister by state and name and I can probably recognise their personal driver as well!)

I spent hours in the early morning and evenings searching the internet for more news. Unsurprisingly I now have a raft of international news subscriptions from Italy, France and New York to name just a few.

The 24 hours news cycle is not healthy. It can be anxiety-inducing and time-consuming. Unless it’s your job there are better things to fill your mind with.

Although I’m not quite ready to tick the unsubscribe box, I’m going back to the basics and filling my brain with things that make me happier, smarter and healthier.  

 Here my top tips for cutting back on the News

  • Read the news once/twice a day at set times and for no more than 30 mins
  • Listen to your favourite podcasts on topics you are interested in
  • Read more books non-fiction and fiction 
  • Have more virtual conversations with new people 
  • Do an Online Course – learn something new 

 Have you been reading more news than usual? Do you have any tips to you can add?

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Sarah Makris is a Career Success Coach focused on Personal Branding and Leadership Communications. She helps professional women fast track their career and avoid being overlooked through her Career Accelerator Coaching Experience.

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