Human Interaction Is The Antidote To The Endless, Awful News Cycle

When we rounded up our staff's Weekly Upgrades last Saturday, our editors were experimenting with new creative routines, re-examining their retirement plans, clearing social media clutter, and making time for mental health.

This week, we're simplifying the ways we get our morning caffeine, learning when to take a break from the news cycle, and starting small with new habits.

What upgrades did you make this week? Let us know in the comments.

Give up tea for 'bad coffee' and a simpler routine

Each morning I used to make coffee for my wife and tea for me, juggling an array of pour-over accoutrements. I finally gave in and switched from tea to coffee, so now I just use a drab little Black and Decker coffeemaker, and it's so much easier. Turns out "bad coffee" is good enough for us.

Nick Douglas, Staff Writer

Prioritise face-to-face interaction over your news feed

I spent a few evenings catching up with friends, which was the best thing I could have done during what's seemed like a never-ending onslaught of terrible news. If there's one thing we all need more of, it's good conversation with good people over good food.

Alicia Adamcyzk, Staff Writer

Build a major habit with tiny changes

Getting back in the habit of daily reading is hard when your morning commute involves being packed in a train like a sardine. Instead of carrying a giant tome about Casanova, I decided to adapt to my environment, and bring what would lend itself to train reading. That meant finding and organising every interesting - and tiny - book I have. Right now, I'm quite comfortably devouring a book about zazen. Next up? A guide about pencil sharpening. Sure, I'm not devouring the books at the top of my "to read" pile, but at least I'm building the muscle.

Patrick Austin, Staff Writer

Make your own indulgent ingredient

I made this toasted cream, which really is as good as it sounds. It works well in sweet and savoury applications, and makes whatever you add it to a little richer and deeper. I'm particularly excited about the butterscotch-like quality it gives to cocktails.

Claire Lower, Food & Beverage Editor

New job, new commute

I started a new job this week, and my life has been drastically improved by my new commute. It only shaved off 10-15 minutes from my train ride, but it feels like a whole new world, with more time at home to get ready, and easier to get to work earlier. (Also the people I work with seem to be talented and nice and smart and friendly... but definitely the new commute is the highlight.)

Joel Kahn, Senior Video Producer

Stem the tide of cord clutter

There are five people living in my house. We all have devices we charge sometimes, and I was getting sick of Nintendo charging cables wrapping around the toaster. (For some reason, the prime charging spots all seemed to be in the kitchen.)

So I made a charging station. Our TV is mounted on the wall, which means our entertainment cabinet (where the sound system and other electronics live) has nothing on top of it besides a bunch of dusty old DVDs. (Sadly, my husband would not let me get rid of any of the DVDs, insisting that every single one of them sparks joy, but I found them some alternate shelves.) I plugged in a new power strip behind the cabinet, brought all of the family's chargers to the new spot, and even installed some cute cable holders to organise them all. Now, everybody always knows where their gadgets are, and the toaster is freed from its wirey prison.

Beth Skwarecki, Health Editor

Fake the effects of natural light

I've waffled on this purchase for a while, but I finally sprung for a Philips Wake-Up Light (it was 30 per cent off on Amazon, plus they were offering a $US25 off coupon), and I already love it. I still need an alarm or noise to fully wake me up (I've set this one to a radio alarm to wake me up with WQXR), but with light slowly ramping up in the 20-30 minutes before my wake-up time, I find that the alarm is much less jarring, and I start the day in a better mood.

This also means I don't need to keep my phone on my bedside table any more, so I may make the leap to having the phone-free bedroom everyone says is so much better for your sleep and well being.

Virginia K. Smith, Managing Editor

Re-learn the importance of listening

I had my teeth cleaned. Having smooth, shiny teeth is a nice upgrade, but what I'm always really impressed by is how many details my hygienist remembers about my life. She recalled my gym schedule, my neighbourhood, my kid's birthday month, my favourite bread, and the exact trajectory of my career over the past few years. It's good to know that she's actually listening during small talk (a skill I want to be better at!), and that she can understand me while my mouth is pried open and I'm getting the gunk scraped off my molars.

Michelle Woo, Parenting Editor


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