If you’re a sentient being with access to the daily news cycle, chances are you vacillate between outrage and despair multiple times a week. Besides being emotionally exhausting, this roller coaster is hardly conducive to getting your work done.
Embracing apathy can be tempting, especially when staying informed affects your on-the-job productivity. But you don’t have to disregard the rest of the world to continue collecting a paycheck. Here’s how you can remain civically and politically engaged while keeping on top of work.
Schedule your outrage. It’s not enough to limit your news consumption to when you’re off the clock. It’s also not realistic, given how much digital access most workers have throughout the day. Even if you’re offline a few hours, one of your colleagues is bound to bring up any earth-shattering news you missed.
You already know you’re bound to get agitated by the news of the day. Rather than let it get to you at work, schedule some time before or after hours to feel the anger and grief prompted by the news. You also may want to use that time to connect with others who share your sentiments and plot ways to help the cause.
Commit to at least one ongoing political act. It doesn’t matter how small, so long as it’s relatively frequent. It could be a morning call to Congress, a weekly donation to your political issue of choice or a monthly act of civil disobedience.
Build this act into your calendar, just as you do with your outrage. This will help you chug through work deadlines unfettered by the relentless news cycle. You still can be concerned about society without thinking too deeply on it or working to improve it every hour of the workday.
Step out of your comfort zone. Commit to broadening your socially conscious horizons at least once a quarter. Read up on a distressing issue you keep meaning to learn more about. Organize a food, clothing or fund drive among workplace colleagues. Speak out against your employer’s support of an unjust cause or political candidate. Attend your first (or second, or tenth) political vigil, rally or protest.
Take time to compose yourself as needed. Sometimes the latest natural disaster, mass shooting or unfeeling act of a political leader strikes a bit closer to home than usual. Compartmentalizing likely won’t help in this case. You’ll be lucky if you can remember what you were working on before the distressing news broke. Instead, you’ll probably find yourself staring at your computer screen for who-knows-how-long, accomplishing nothing.
That’s when it’s time to step outside your office. Talk to a close colleague. Message a loved one. Make a donation. Call your political representatives. Venture outdoors a few minutes. Smile at a baby. Pet a puppy. Do something to help someone in need. Breathe deeply. When you return to your desk, go easy on yourself and do the best you can. Remember, tomorrow is another day.