The Election and Productivity

I was a couple of months late in turning in The Collapsing Empire; I originally planned to have it to Tor before Worldcon this year (which was mid-August) and ended up sending it to my editor literally the day I left for New York Comic Con, which was the first week of October. Some of that had to do with fine-tuning and changing bits of the story to make them more effective, plus travel and life in general.

But a whole lot more had to do with the 2016 presidential election. There were entire weeks where I got up each day, fully intending to go straight into writing on the book, and instead ended up checking Politico, the Washington Post, Five Thirty Eight and a whole other host of political sites, and got myself wound up enough that it was a miracle if I got any writing done at all, much less hit my daily quota. Now, I’ve written books during presidential elections before, and I’m easily very diverted by them. But my level of distraction has never been this bad before.

At New York Comic Con, I confided to another author about my book being late because of the election, and her reaction was basically to say YES SO VERY MUCH THIS and then we were joined by an editor, who was all OH MY GOD BASICALLY ALL MY AUTHORS ARE SAYING THIS, and then suddenly I didn’t know whether to feel better or worse. On one hand, it was a bit of a relief to know I wasn’t the only author whose schedule was bunged up by the election; on the other, what a mess this election has been if whole swaths of writers have been knocked off course by it. I could go into why this is, but I think you all already know my opinion about this election so we can take it as read for now.

My question to you is: Is it just us? Or have you found that you (or others you know about) have been knocked out of your usual level of work productivity because of this election as well? Has obsessively refreshing poll trackers and political feeds and Twitter kept you from the timely performance of your duties, or, if you still manage to get stuff done on time, is it still a challenge to keep your mind on task? More than usual?

Let me know. I’m actually really interested.

 

270 thoughts on “The Election and Productivity

  1. Yes, this. So much this. All kinds of creativity & work have been thoroughly disrupted for me — writing, sewing, getting the bills paid, just about anything that takes concentration or, you know, coherent thought to get done.

    Thank you for articulating it so (terrifyingly) well!

  2. Yeah, this has been much more of a time sink than usual, because it combines a genuine concern about Very Serious Risks with all the usual appeal of watching a train wreck.

  3. Not just you. I work at a public library and we have a partnership with Business Health Services and they have offered to do sessions for us to help talk about stress brought on by the current political climate.

    And I am amazed I have not bitten my tongue off yet because, working at a public service desk, I get to hear all kinds of comments about all the people out there and this election just feels worse than before.

  4. Yes. I still get stuff done (I’m a theoretical physicist by trade), but all my energy and focus has gone to achieving the bare minimum. No side projects, not much poking about for fun. Things that I used to work on occasionally, I haven’t touched in months.

    My colleagues have been feeling it too. We all appear to have the same problem: The election just doesn’t leave us anything to spare.

  5. Oh, gods yes. My therapy notes are taking a week to write, I missed my extended tax deadline, and my brain flutters away every time I try to do anything taxing. I feel like I’m under siege. I have had serious PTSD nightmares on a regular basis since the 2nd debate and watching Trump’s *seriously* abusive behavior on the stage that woke up the long dormant fear of my (now deceased) ex who abused me for six years, ending about 26 years ago. I am *obsessively* refreshing 538 to see the newest numbers, and the only things giving me any relief are playing video games and sleeping. I can’t even read or knit, both of which usually help.

  6. Yes, a thousand times yes. I think part of it is the sheer popcorn-munching “NOW what?” nature of the whole endeavor, and part of it is worry based on a million fearful “what if” scenarios. I have found myself, like you, pinging between all the news sites in an effort to grapple with what this election has revealed about my country.

  7. Nope, not just you. I’ve found specifically that any computer work that I’ve had to do (which is 100% of my actual full-time job as a project manager and about 10% of managing the household) has been less productive due to obsessive election new binging. It’s a little hard to put numbers around, but I would say that between co-worker conversations and reading reactions to Trump’s latest offensive bullshit, I’ve lost/wasted maybe 3-4 hours per week.

    That said, I think that I’ve found more excuses to get away from the computer at home, and the honey-do list has gotten whittled down significantly (partial list from this summer: rebuilt a piano, replaced a fence, remodeled the basement, painted the kitchen). That may be me working off nervous energy when he was polling closer to HRC, but now I am nervous about voter complacency. Man, putting all that down make it clear that the thought of a Trump presidency must concern me even more than I thought.

  8. I’m an accountant by trade. While I’m horrified and sickened by Trump and this whole election cycle, I don’t think my work productivity has suffered any more than it usually does from the shiny, shiny internet.

  9. Thank you for writing this, John! I thought I was the only one dealing with “Election Distraction.” (Is that a term now? Should it become one?) I am right there with you. So many times I have sat down excited and ready to write and gotten nothing done.

    My wife is an oil painter, and I will often hang out with her community and her friends. We spent some time with them over the weekend, and I heard similar echoes. Everyone is losing themselves in the coverage and finding their work suffering. I think a lot of creators are feeling anxiety around this election and it’s throwing us all off.

    Personally, I can’t wait for November 9th.

  10. Thanks to my Pocket bookmarks app, which I downloaded for my phone and tablet last January, I can tell you that my reading/obsessing levels have been off the charts tbis election cycle. So much so that I am thinking of writing a book, called Trump and the mis-use of emotional intelligence. The count is currently 700+ articles on Trump, 150+ on Hillary, and 100+ on all other candidates, with a focus on Bernie Sanders. All this in 10 months. Whew!

  11. Grad student and also writer here–yyyup. As a queer woman, the background fear level of my days has significantly risen with Tr*mp rhetoric on the rise (been catcalled more, trapped in conversations with strange men more), which makes me that much more exhausted when I get home and try to write. I think for me, writing and politics draw from the same energy streams–the explaining and elaborating of a life, since politics very literally affect how I live my life–so the politics writing is draining everything from the creative writing.

    I’m also on a Facebook group of 5,000 Wellesley alumnae who support HRC, which, while admittedly a self-selecting group, has tons of stories like this, too.

  12. No, it’s been terrible for me as well. I’ve spent the next couple days after each debate watching Colbert, Samantha Bee, et al, which of course leads down a lengthy rabbit-hole of related YouTube videos.

  13. I’m a uni student — I was getting to distracted and worried I had to literally deactivate my facebook, twitter, and tumblr, and block certain political news sites from my computer. Although now that I’ve done that, I think my productivity has gone up from normal, because I no longer have regular social-media distractions. But I’m still worried.

  14. I work as a distraction from anxiety. Due to the election, my house is VERY clean, I’ve written a lot on a children’s book I am doing, I’ve knitted almost an entire Slytherin scarf (because it’s in the round and for someone tall, it’s damn near as much of a slog as a Doctor Who scarf) and I’ve written more articles this month for my professional and social blogs than I ever have.

    The election has me jumpy as hell, as does the possible aftermath.

  15. Oh my goodness yes. And I can’t even vote in the election (but do live in the USA, as a “permanent resident aleen”). I agree with Christopher above, there is a sense of dread and uncertainty that arises from my non-citizen, but legal immigrant, status.

    Consider that I, a hetero white male married to a US citizen and with a US born child, am feeling just a little concerned about my status in this country. Consider that this country may, next time around, go further down the path of Trumpism. I hate to think how other perfectly legal immigrant families are feeling right now, and what impact this uncertainty is having on their daily lives.

  16. I’ve definitely had that happen, although between the election and Real Life™ it’s hard to determine the real cause. Facebook, Twitter, and watching the SNL debate parodies eat my time like crazy.

  17. Not especially, but then my political tracking is basically limited to here, Twitter, and Making Light (which has been really quite of late), and tangents thereto. Which is to say, I am by no means anything approaching a wonk.

    Additionally, what little election tracking can be done via video cuts into my artistic productivity not at all, because I’ve always got something going on in the background while I paint or whatever.

    But then, my political engagement isn’t even within orders of magnitude of yours.

    Just think of it as fodder for future books! Yeah, that’s the ticket!

  18. I don’t work, and I have been having a hard time with depression right now. I don’t blame the election for this, but I am sure it makes it worse. I don’t watch tv, because it sucks me in. I should probably avoid social media for the same reason now. I do think it adds stress, which is not a good thing.

  19. As an author, I’ve also had to double think myself before posting on social media – am I alienating potential readers? Will I upset by editors and publishers by linking my name to political views? Can I express how repulsed I am? Many writers are not in the position where they can freely express their personal views. It’s certainly been stressful in that regard, in addition to the general depression over the uninformed nature of much of the electorate,

  20. Actually I think I’ve been more productive as I’ve been doing work to desperately avoid any political stories instead of my usual procrastination-by-browsing.

  21. Not my while at-work work productivity. But my after hours work productivity (I work a lot of 10-12 hour days right now). And my non-work productivity is gone.

  22. I have a presentation to make at the beginning of January; my written paper needs to go to the commentator at the beginning of December, I have 1 page left of my allotted space (10 minutes = 5 pages = panic! because I need more pages!), and I haven’t written anything since July. So, yeah, it’s not just you.

  23. I mean, I’m pretty distractable in general (I’m sitting in my office right now), but I think the election has made it worse. At this point in my career I’m very nearly a professional meeting-goer, and over the last few months it’s been a constant battle to not be refreshing twitter constantly instead of actually paying attention and participating. It’s hard to compare to 2012, but I don’t think I was anywhere near this engaged. To be fair, I also had less going on in life and work 4 years ago by a long shot.

  24. Public defender here and the fact that I am typing an answer to this question while at my desk in my office on a workday probably answers this question, doesn’t it?

    Election has definitely had a net negative impact on my productivity and generally just emotional well-being.

  25. OMG, so much this. I’m between jobs at the moment, and the plan was to spend this time on personal projects. There have been some extenuating circumstances — like a couple really bad colds in a row — but I have to admit obsessively reloading political news has done some severe damage to my productivity on personal projects and studies. So ready for it to be over.

  26. On the one hand, I work on a team that supports cnn.com, so following the election could arguably be claimed as being productive.

    On the other hand, that’d be a load of hogwash, as I’m no journalist; my job is to keep the services going (The News Must Flow). Of late, productivity for me consists of making progress on backend improvements to make sure that the news continues to flow on what promises to be the biggest election night in the site’s 20-year history. And my parts of that progress have almost certainly gone noticeably slower than they would have if at least one of the candidates were a different person.

  27. Good heavens. Based on the (13!) comments that got posted while I wrote mine, I innevitably conclude that I’m exceptionally clueless. Well, maybe in this particular instance, that’s a good thing—?

  28. Yes, I’ve been very distracted by it all as well, but not necessarily because I’ve been obsessively checking things on the Internet. While that has happened to some extent, it’s more a combination of other things: having little to no emotional energy after being upset by the election to devote to creative work (especially since I have a day job and young children as well as a writing career), giving more of my free time to Pinterest and reruns of Downton Abbey because they don’t depress me, etc. etc. I’ve been distracting myself with low-mental-energy-commitment things because the election has distracted me from my real work, making me sad and frustrated. Unfortunately, as probably all of us are aware, the vitriol and yuck that is the fallout of this election cycle is not going to go away on November 9th.

    It’s like being in debt. At some point, you recognize where you are and take steps to climb back out. Maybe it will take a while, but eventually, if you keep at it, you’ll get to where you’d rather be. I’m going to go vote today (the day early voting starts where I live) and then do my best to put this whole creepshow behind me.

    I decided to quit watching The Walking Dead last night, too, about three seconds after the episode ended. I’ve reached the point where I’m just done with this ish. And now, hopefully, my novel edits will get done.

    We shall see.

  29. Productivity . . . hm. Hard to say, since the months from August to November aren’t usually particularly productive for me and I’ve been getting hit with extra responsibilities at work in general (due to medical emergencies among my colleagues). But I would agree that the election has been a far greater attention-focus for me this cycle; normally, once I’ve decided who to vote for, I keep only a casual eye on day-to-day politics. This year? Aiee, no. So it’s a time sink at the least, has cut massively into my sleep schedule, and probably done Bad Things to my professional obligations as well . . . I will be so glad when it is over, providing, well, you know. The Wrong Person doesn’t get elected, in which case I will likely have a nervous breakdown that will last at least past the Inauguration.

  30. Ever since Twumpy first started threatening or verbally assaulting people at his rallies, and started to show himself as the pseudo-fascist he is, back in February, I’ve gotten very little done; too much of my time has been spent online, posting commentary, blasting trolls, creating memes and distributing them, arguing against a Trump dictatorship, and being the general muckraker I am. My actual work has suffered, my writing has taken a back burner, my family doesn’t see me as much, my wife is almost sick of my obsession with Donald, and I am grateful that there is only two more weeks of this.

  31. I still can get things done. Going into the office is likely helping a great deal, since obsessing over Nate Silver isn’t really cool to my lovely coworkers who are counting on me. I have had evenings, though, where I went to check Facebook after work and the next thing I know it’s 11pm and I still haven’t eaten dinner because of all the political links I’ve followed.

    It’s also worth noting that I’m busier because I’ve become active in this campaign in a way I haven’t in previous ones. It’s so high stakes, I feel I need to do things about it. Post and such. I’ve been doorknocking in New Hampshire, which takes some wrangling. And now that I’m known as the friend who volunteers, others ask me how as well. It’s worth it, but I’ll be really glad when it’s over in a few weeks.

  32. Since April, I’ve written one novella, two novelettes, and a couple of short stories — say 60,000+ words of fiction, finished and sent off to play in the marketplace, and I’m working on a short piece now. But as the months have worn on, I’ve found myself spending the mornings (though I rise late) and parts of the afternoons reading newspapers on-line and visiting YouTube for clips of cable news and late night shows, mesmerized by the rise of the Antichrist.

    And I’m not even American.

    Ever since Ailes and Bannon showed up in August, I’ve been leaning toward the hope that it’s all just a scheme for Trump to set up his own TV/live-streaming news channel and eat Rupert Murdoch’s lunch. Lately, that looks more and more likely — much better than the insurrection I feared he would foment once he lost.

  33. Heavens, yes! As an indie writer, I set my own deadlines and I am missing them left and right. I don’t know what it is about this election — I don’t think it’s just anxiety of fear of what a President Trump would be like, although that’s a lot of it. It’s also the notion of fighting the good fight in a way that hasn’t felt so immediate since the heyday of the early post-9/11 days, with the warbloggers and all, combined with this election’s reality-show dynamic. It’s like an especially compelling episode of SURVIVOR that never ends. And heck, maybe we’re all more civically minded right now because of HAMILTON?

    But yes, this election is monstrously distracting and debilitating for me, as far as getting actual work done goea.

  34. I am retired so I have plenty of time for politics. However, when I worked I was a much more productive person than the one I am now: angry white dude screaming at the television and the mojority of other angry white dudes (who are the source of my own anger). Sadly, when it’s over, and Trump is just a bad patch of American history, his legions of AWDs will still be out there, and they’ll still be white, and they’ll still be dudes, but they’ll probably be way angrier. It will be interesting to see what they do without their feckless, orange leader, TrumpTV or not (he loses his muscle when he’s no longer a presidential candidate).

  35. It’s not just you at all. I had to reschedule my dissertation defense because I was behind on my final drafts. Following election coverage was my biggest distraction, and it wasn’t just the time thievery so much as getting all worked up emotionally and being uninterested in combing through footnotes looking for commas out of place.

    My adviser was not pleased, but she was just as distracted judging from her FB feed.

    On the up side, I did eventually defend, so you may refer to me as Dr. MuseumMatt.

  36. Gods yes: my productivity has plummeted over the last month. It got to the point where my anxiety about the election was fighting with my anxiety over my decreased performance threatening my job. After debate 2 the fears of imminent fascism declined somewhat and I’m actually able to concentrate a bit better, but the constant slow-motion Trump train-wreck continues to distract. I’m relieved that Trump’s going down, hopeful that he’ll (deservedly!) destroy the GOP and mildly optimistic for a Democratic Senate and (please!) Congress. That said, just seeing the number of fellow Americans out there who proudly laud Trump no matter what is as incredibly depressing as watching the racists crawl out of the woodwork during Obama’s presidency. Not only do we now know how much more prevalent racism is than originally anticipated, we now know how stupid and disgusting so much of the right wing really is. The only mitigation is that their Trump signs and comments make them easy to identify and ostracize. Trump may take down the GOP, but the cost has been the normalization of the alt-right and the coarsening of political discourse to heretofore unimaginable levels. As I read the litany of Internet Tough Guys ™ promising revolution if their orange idol loses, I find myself hoping that they DO grab their guns and attempt to attack the establishment on November 9th if only because then they can be shot and/or jailed for life and thus removed from society. I’m a good lefty liberal and I’m all for accommodating different viewpoints, but man – some of these people need to be shipped off to a 3rd-world authoritarian hellhole so they can get exactly what they want.

  37. I reached a point in September where I basically had to ban myself from watching cable news or visiting political sites except for once a day. Not only was it interfering with work, it was seriously screwing up my overall well-being. I still try to limit my intake of political news.

  38. Oh, hell no, it’s not just writers, John- pretty much everyone I know has commented and/or complained about the extent to which election-related focus has drawn on their resources. If it’s not grant reviewers making embarrassed-sounding requests for more time to get through the piles of proposals they’re supposed to be commenting on, it’s a friend who works for a landscape business begging off a social engagement because her evenings have gotten so gummed up with watching debates, news coverage, and sitting at the computer reading articles and tracking polls, she’s behind on prepping stuff for the school play she promised to help with.

    It’s my 87-year-old mother grousing she hasn’t had enough time to prepare for the workshop she promised to facilitate at the community center, because she’s been spending every free moment with the election news coverage in the papers and on teevee.

    It’s a client shoving a deadline back because they couldn’t get me the copy required for their job on time, partly because they ended up doing many extra hours of volunteer work, door-knocking and data-entering.

    So, yeah, what that tells me is that it’s not just work-at-home types getting sidetracked, it’s not just online-oriented people peering into screens, it’s not just tracking the coverage that’s hijacking time and demanding the focus.

    You’re not alone, indeed.

    This is a consequential election. I’m hoping people realize how close we came to the bus veering over the edge altogether, and maybe decide that in the future, a little pre-emptive investment in participatory democracy throughout the year would be worthwhile.

    ::looks at that last sentence again…:: Naaaaaaaaaaaaah, never happen.

    But it HAS been an anomalous year.

  39. At work it hasn’t been that bad, but at night when I should be sleeping and news keeps dropping is when I notice it the most. The night after the Inside Access tape dropped was wild, I couldn’t sleep.

  40. After reading the comments above, I want to add this: for those old enough to remember, the past few months have been like a longer-running version of the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, when everything just stopped for a week while we all waited to see if we were going to die.

  41. I’ve been self-underemployed in my non-author life, so it’s both harder to gauge how distracted I’ve been and less damaging than it could be. I’ve managed to stay on track with editing the next book and planning for the one after that–mostly. My level of angst may explain how much I’ve been second-guessing various book concepts.

    I’ve had the same concern Van expressed: will airing political views in Twitter alienate potential readers?

  42. I’d have to say no, at least as far as the day job goes; when I’m at work, I’m at work. Since I’m a public employee, we are ordered to stay away from political topics anyway, and there are just enough of my coworkers that don’t agree with me that I don’t dare bring it up; I have to work with these people after the election. I already think less of them; I’m trying not to give them the opportunity to think less of me so I bite my tongue, when necessary.

    It’s easier for me to stay focused at work as I don’t use Twitter and don’t haunt the political sites; I leave that to my husband. Yes, I think it has affected *his* writing schedule, for the same reasons you’ve stated.

    Beyond the productivity question: what this cycle has done for me is give me a permanent stomach cramp and a low-grade stress level that won’t go away (I’ve had three migraines in the last week). All of our conversations as a couple, and most of those with our friends, devolve into political discussions/rants/snark/wailing, to the point where our (few) non-political friends have asked us to lay off and change the subject. Most of our video viewing is political, and the only way to get through all of that with my sanity intact is a steady supply of hard cider and knitting furiously while spitting snark at the TV. It’s not been pretty.

    Oregon is a vote-by-mail state, so our ballots arrived on Friday, we voted Saturday AM, and my husband dropped them off at the library ballot box later that day. Done and done.

  43. It has been impossible to ignore the horrible, disturbing, yet fascinating (like a train wreck) election process this time around.
    It is all-pervasive, like a bad fart in a small room. There is nowhere to hide unless you completely disengage from the world until it’s over.
    The jaw dropping stupidity and malice is sloshing over our feet wherever we go.

  44. Didnt affect me at all. There was never a chance I was going to vote for Trump, so I ignored most everything about the election. Turned down the radio when stories came on, muted the TV or changed channels, avoided most internet discussion about it. Oh, sure, occasionally I’d check, especially when something blew up like the Trump-Billy Bush tape… but the effect was negligible.

    I do wonder why you didn’t do what you’ve done before and literally pull the plug on your internet each morning until you got stuff done?

  45. Oh yeah. Not just you. I’m still hitting my trade-pub deadlines pretty well, because my dread of failure is worse than about anything else, but my work on my own projects for self-pub is crashing and burning.

  46. Craig G Ruaux: I hate to think how other perfectly legal immigrant families are feeling right now

    I saw a pair of women of color in the store the other day, during a fairly warm afternoon, walking around with fur-trimmed hoods of their jackets up. Looking closely, I think I spotted hijabs under their hoods. o.0

    I gather that Muslim is a very uncomfortable thing to be, just now.

  47. It’s not just you. And the overall stress levels have increased generically across — well, everyone, from what I can see. Both major sides are terrified of the other, and some of the minor sides are feeling frustrated and desperate.
    I have an Election Countdown app. I look at it periodically…

  48. My productivity is down and my urge to ‘create’ has decreased. My current book is about thirty percent behind where it should be, and the stress of the election has everything to do with it. Like others have mentioned, T^^p’s horrifying behavior has triggered some terrible memories and it is exhausting having to deal with those, AGAIN, on top of everything else.

  49. Yes. I’ve got, like, three competing deadlines all squishing me at once in the next couple of weeks, entirely because my productivity has been way down for a while now due to political anxiety/obsession.

  50. The election hasn’t affected my work that much, but it has taken a number on my leisure time. Instead of listening to music or old time radio shows I end up listening to talk radio… trying to get a handle on why so many of my fellow Americans seem determined to jump off a cliff and hope there are rocks at the bottom. Gah I’ll be glad when this vote is taken and done with.

  51. Absolutely! I’m a librarian and I moved across the country to start a new job in April, and I’ve been slow getting up to speed with things because I either stay up late reading/watching the news or I’m just flat-out reading news on the job (I can’t keep myself away from Twitter!). I already know I’m not going to get a single bit of work done on Election Day. I may as well just take the day off!

  52. To Adele Gleason: My sympathies. Sometimes simple things can weigh us down. Take heart in two things: First, you just comforted me. Second, it is nice to have televisions and the internet and Whatever. Good things make the bad feelings more endurable. I try to keep the input positive, also. My favorite thing to do is smile and laugh. Silliness helps me a great deal. The election definitely does not help with that (but treating it inanely does), but there is some solace that three branches of government balance out overall. Please get better soon.

    To Mr. Scalzi’s question: Not really. I do what many others here do: take the info that comes across during daily life and see if it is reliable. That’s about it. Actually, there are two things that interrupt my writing: First, reading. I like that quite a lot. Is it okay to view reading as part of research for writing? Does that include reading your blog? If it is, then maybe that can be given a pass. Second, myself. I bewilder me. The things I can be distracted by are legion.

  53. Van and karenawyle, being political in social media doesn’t hurt your career, unless you out yourself as a Nazi or something. Even then, most readers won’t hear about it.

    Go ahead and be political. It’s part of being human, and basically nothing will come of it.

  54. Yeah, me too. I have a 1yo and I basically work while she’s napping, so I kind of have to be on my game to get any real work done, and while I kept it together last week, the week before was ridiculous.

  55. I have found my regular work is distracted by politics, but not my writing work, as my writing work is my escape, my fun time. What’s made THAT fall behind is constant health issues in the family and other minor disasters, since I only have an average of 4 hours a week to work on writing.

  56. I’m basically a nasty whirlwind of pussy rage obsessively checking the polls and watching Hillary do the shimmy as we plot the smashing of the patriarchy. Everything else is on hold until November 9th.

  57. I have definitely spent more time reading and obsessing about the election rather than working on my PhD thesis (due to my committee in 3 weeks) than is probably productive. I’m not going to miss any deadlines, but it definitely has distracted me from finishing work.

  58. This election has definitely impacted my productivity, to the point of pinging Google News about every other hour at work, something i am normally loathe to do (once a day used to suffice). But this election especially has been such a multi-ring circus, combined with ongoing train wreck that (a) I’m afraid to miss something and (b) i can’t look away when that something eventually happens. It winds up like being on crack — the more crazy stuff happens, the more you need another dose of “oh, my gawd, he said what?!?!!?”

    Anyway, the election can’t happen too soon, though i know the rest of that week will be blown due to celebrations / charges of cheating / counter charges / etc. Hopefully things start to settle by the following week, when we can tune back in to see the Senate (and possibly House?) immolate it / them selves.

    Democracy is supposed to be messy, but oy….

  59. It’s been like that all year for me. First I published a book on climate change, then I started grappling with the anxiety disorder associated with pushing that through without considering the personal emotional consequences. Then it was this current political mess. I’ve spent more time working through meditation than I have being productive, because there’s only so much emotional trauma anyone can take. (side note: has anyone read Trauma Stewardship? That’s next on my list).

    I suspect that, in the slightly longer run, there’s a chance that we’ll look back on this with a “what were we thinking” attitude, simply because Clinton will turn out to be competent, the Koch brothers and a few other reactionary billionaires will die, and with their fortunes locked in succession wars, the crap they’ve funded will go into abeyance, and we’ll have a few years to deal with climate issues before the next crop of well-funded obstructionist primordia erupt, sporulate, and we’ve got them to deal with. Again. But that’s because I’m cautiously optimistic right now. In the longer run (possibly after Clinton steps down), we’re going to have the worst population migration crisis in history, right as everyone’s xenophobia kicks into high gear. But that will take just a bit more sea level rise and a few more droughts…

  60. I’m pretty good at shutting it down/off, but, holy cow, my colleagues are obsessed. I work at a community college, and the people darting from one office to another to read a post or show a video or just sit in fear together is astounding. We’re usually a relatively solitary bunch, but this election is drawing people who don’t normally socialize with each other together amazingly, at the cost of getting classes planned and papers graded, for sure.

  61. I’m alternately longing for this shitshow to be over and wondering what I’m going to do when I won’t feel the need to refresh Twitter every five minutes. Hopefully something real, like going back to creating something beautiful instead of obsessing over how so many people could have been sucked into the Orange Hellbeast Horror House.

  62. Yes, it’s been hugely distracting. Half the time I’m not sure whether I’m looking for news, or just some sort of existential reassurance. I kind of feel like Election Day will play out like the the end of The Grudge (or The Cave, or any of a number of other horror films that follow this pattern), where’s this this moment of relief that we’ve finally escaped/defeated the Great Evil followed by the horrifying realization that instead we’ve brought it out into the daylight world with us.

  63. I haven’t let it affect my work too much. I’m too busy at work to check that stuff. I also know that no matter how much I read or watch, it’s not going to affect the outcome, so I try to step away when I can. I also have two people at work I like working with who differ politically from me so I can’t talk about it here. One is voting for Trump because she feels screwed by Obamacare and that’s her only issue. The other one doesn’t like Trump but hates Hillary with an unreasonable passion and I’m not going to discuss it with her. So I have to keep it out of my work sphere. I do check 538 periodically (though now I’m more interested in the senate projections) and watched all three debates along with live tweeters.

    Although I will say I work in an elementary school and in the past I wouldn’t give the students a clue as to how I was voting. But this year if they ask, I tell them the truth. I don’t rail against Trump. I just say I won’t be voting for him, I don’t respect him and I don’t think he’d do a good job. I say I think that Hillary will. I haven’t had any bring up any other issues with me so that’s good.

  64. I’m English, so American politics doesn’t usually affect me directly, but I still find myself slightly obsessing over the election nonetheless. Add to that the fact that I am also obsessing over another, rather more British issue – Brexit. So I’m reading voraciously about that too. I don’t know how much it does distract me beyond the norm, but it’s certainly taking up a lot of my distracted time!

  65. Yes, absolutely. I was already a bit of a twitter junkie, and had to essentially unfollow everyone for a while just to get my head back on straight. And I’m a manager of database developers and a developer myself, so I totally understand the need to have your head in the game and be able to focus.

  66. My anxiety level has been way up due to election coverage and social media discussions of election. I find myself spending too much time getting sucked into it all and then, argh! I shut down the electronics in disgust. My balm: I went on two different trips to see fall colors and take pictures. It was refreshing to be without cell coverage. Of course, I come home and I’m right back to it. It’s like a car wreck on the road that you know you should not look at, but you do. And then you’re sorry.

  67. Yes, definitely! I’m a university English professor, and I have not been able to tear myself away from the train wreck. I’m behind on grading; I’m behind on writing; and I’m behind on just various life-stuff (getting bids for a new roof, etc). I will be so glad when the election is over and some semblance of normalcy can return–but I’m afraid that even with a Hillary win, America is forever changed (and not in a good way) by this election.

  68. Yes, it’s been a huge time and brain-capacity suck since February. It’s taken from the day-job, night-job, and cut the output on the creativity stuff. So many things I wanted to get finished this summer, including launching a t-shirt store. Some of those would have probably been selling pretty nice about now. Hopefully at the end of Nov 8 we can have our brains and energy back. November 9th is the light at the end of this particular tunnel. I just hope it’s not a dragon waiting to eat us all.

  69. Librarians are being hit with this pretty hard. I spend most of my time at the main desk looking up articles about the election, even though I know it’s slowly turning my hair white.

  70. Absolutely. I’ve been so distracted (thanks to political sites and FB commentary) that I’ve actually been concerned at some periods about my job performance – and that’s never been a concern before (read that as you will..) This has been both dreadfully engaging and (for those of us familiar with Wm. Shirer) exceedingly disturbing. It’s like we humans have a sort of periodic madness that strikes on a more or less century cycle.

  71. Yes Very Much This.

    I’ve never been distracted by presidential politics. I voted my conscience, my family and friends did the same, and we all lived with the result.

    This year, however, I feel if Trump were elected, my way of life (and also that of my family and friends) would be threatened in a way they had never been before. So I have to pay attention like I never have before.

    And that means it’s been difficult to follow through on projects at work, and it’s been stressful at home as we watched the train wrecks in the Republican primaries and the dumpster fires in the presidential debates.

    Hillary’s playing him like a fiddle, though, and it’s a relief to wake up today to the news that he’s 12 points behind in the polls. Now all we need to do is to make it stick, and stick hard.

  72. OMG, yes. And it’s taken many forms of reduced productivity.

    When I unfriended someone on Facebook recently, it was as much because I wanted to remove the temptation to read their posts and feel the urge to reply, spending hours and hours of mental energy on it, only to delete everything I’d written (if I’d written something) as it was because the opposition to my personal ideals was making me physically ill. The temptation is still there, but thankfully out of my hands.

    Much about this election has made me physically ill and that may be having an effect as much as the mental distraction is. My blood pressure is up and actually affecting how much physical energy I have. Anxiety is up just enough to make my sleep patterns not as good as before – just enough that so that getting into a creative frame of mind is so much more difficult – and it makes me more prone to distraction.

    My productivity is way down from last year at this time and even way down from the spring of this year. From projects for work to personal creative projects, writing, reading, studying, exercising, GARDENING for chrisssakes, I feel like I’ve slipped on everything lately. The election is front and center and omnipresent in my mind lately, and the number one thing each day that distracts me from doing what I should be doing at any given moment.

    There were a few days recently when I seemed to find my focus, creativity and productivity again. I was on vacation, and spent a few days in the middle of it in a lovely place tucked into the side of a mountain. Quiet, removed, and effective at getting me to completely turn off the election enough that I slept, I read (an entire book!), I wrote, I made little doodle, I experimented with photography, and I felt great. I was tempted to barricaded myself in and not go home.

  73. Yup.

    The last time politics made me anxious and nauseous, I was in my teens, and Watergate was breaking. This time is worse.

    Much worse.

  74. It has been a serious distraction. On the positive side, all the research I’ve done to rebut fallacies seen on social media has made me a better informed person (as if I wasn’t already) with a much more complete set of data source bookmarks and reaction gif memes.

  75. Holy cow…you know, I hadn’t thought about it until your post, but OMG yes! Not only for me on my own writing, but my wife, who is a transgender immigrant (with just a green card) is freaking the heck out and it’s been hard for her keeping from being non-functional with fear and depression. Both of us has to step back from social media in order to get stuff done. (I block Facebook during the day, and she doesn’t do any social media at work.) And as a pastor, I’ve also noticed the spiritual toll it’s been taking on folks, and I’m hoping that after the election some things will settle down.

  76. I think that I’ve been able to tuck myself away from the news for long stretches of the day, because of podcasts, mainly. I’ve also been working with my therapist to get myself away from the evils of anxiety and I’ve been able to use some of those tactics pretty effectively to protect myself. I very easily get oversaturated on news content, so learning to step away and focus on something else has been pretty easy, so while I dread the thought of Trump as President, it’s not as bad as it could be for me.

  77. It’s so distressing that Trump has even been considered a serious candidate that I’m constantly checking my Google Now feed to see if he’s made any new stupid or damning statements, and when he does, I check FiveThirtyEight.com in hopes of seeing his estimated chances of winning dwindle some more.

    I need to look up your schadenfreude pie recipe for November 8th. I feel at least a little sorry for most people who fall short of their ambitions, but not Trump. I hope he’s miserable when he loses. He won’t be, though. He’ll happily claim he’s the victim of some plot and make himself the figurehead of some new movement. I hope he will be held accountable for inciting violence if some of his acolytes act on their threats of bloody revolution after the election.

  78. The problem with democracy is that for it to function best, every voter must be as well informed as the most experienced politician, which means it requires voters have a full time job learning about the issues, but then all that effort gives you is just 1/100 millionth of a voice.

    Or to put it another way, in the ideal case, 100 million voters would have a full time job understanding the issues well enough to know the one perfect person whose full time job it is to take care of those issues.

    The retaking of mosul? The disaster in Allepo? Russia? China? Phillpines? Brexit? How can someone know which candidate has the best solutions for these problems, unless the voter understands them as good as the candidate?

    Voters cant do that. So they rely on shortcuts. Like who has the best hair. Who did or did not scream a weird sounding raaawwwrrrr! And we have parties who winnow the candiddates for us.

  79. Oh oy.

    Last year, I started writing. Just fanfic, but it was joyous, fulfilling, and invigorating. Some three hundred thousand words later, the realization that Trump was probably going to be the nominee jolted me into getting back on Twitter and Quora. And then the existential dread just ate into my life, and my writing just…stopped. How could I be creative when The Future Of My Country was at stake?

    I will be so damned tired when Nov. 9 dawns. Hopefully, I will be relieved and happy, too. The thought that there are people who actually want to vote for someone who can’t even speak in coherent sentences, and who want to jail journalists and send Muslims, Mexicans, and “libtards” into exile just flabbergasts and terrifies me.

  80. YES. The election has been hell on my productivity. Not only because it’s distracting to constantly check the updates and argue with people, but it’s actually making me feel so depressed and anxious that I can’t focus, whether I’m ignoring the news updates or not. As a LGBT person this election has been a hit to my morale like no other one I’ve been through. My mood has just completely tanked the past few months and my motivation to work along with it.

  81. I haven’t really seen it so much in my work activity, but then my profession is in an area where I really have to get head-down into the process I’m working on, and I’ve got decades of experience blocking out extraneous stuff around me.

    This year’s political process has really taken a huge toll on my creative activities, though. I have been largely unable to express my creativity since about mid-summer, and as much as I try to force myself to get back to my favorite creative activity, I simply cannot bring myself to do so.

    Really, really looking forward to the end of this saga. I just hope that it actually WILL end, which seems to be in some doubt.

  82. Me too! Did you know that if you access Talking Points Memo more that 600 times in a month, it will put up a nag screen asking you for money?

    I went camping this weekend in Hocking Hills, and was without cell service until Sunday afternoon. It was great to be away from the election for two days. However, it all came back to me while driving past miles and miles of Trump/Pence lawn signs on the way home. The funny thing was that once we crossed back into Kentucky, the yard signs disappeared.

    (By the way, one of the the main attractions at Hocking Hills State Park is Old Man’s Cave. That always reminds me of something.)

  83. My wife does craft jewelry and art and totally feels like the market has been depressed this year due to the election. There’s a feeling that people are in a ‘hoarding’ mode and not spending money outside essentials just in case.

    Several vendors she’s talked to have a similar point of view. This covers a pretty healthy chunk of the political spectrum. It’s just general nervousness to buy stuff.

  84. I’ve experienced Election Derailment in two areas of my life: housekeeping and as-yet-unpublished writer. I haven’t written a lick since mid-August, and my house…I’m debating whether to clean it or just donate the interior to the Soil Bank.
    Trump actually reminds me of the Civil Rights era. I was enraged by those white supremacists as a teenager, and he enrages me in just the same way, to the same degree.
    Once I understood that Trump has no viable path to 270 electoral votes, I lost interest in the Presidential contest. I gave myself a pass on having to look at or listen to that orange a$$hole ever again.

  85. The only reason I have finished my current project is that there is no possibility of plea bargaining the late delivery of a Halloween costume to a pre-school child!

  86. Yes, absolutely. Sidetracked, stressed, and sadly unable to leave the thing alone and let it run its course. All other issues (and there are many) aside, we have a foreign power reaching into our election and trying to stir the pot, if not more. Said power has clearly settled on a stooge, and said stooge is invincibly ignorant of the ramifications. Can’t turn away. Want it over and done with.

  87. yes, definitely, although I hadn’t managed to quite put my finger on it until you mentioned it in those terms. It’s hit both my writing (I write early in the morning and I’ve been watching election videos instead) and my coding (the day job is software and there’s been too much TPM and 538.com surfing going on). I’ve hit day job targets adequately, but it’s been a stretch when it shouldn’t have been and have underperformed in other areas.

    It has been very stressful, and things have only really come stable again in the time since the second debate when the outcome has seemed more resolved.

    I’m really glad things have not been closer.

  88. Definitely have noticed an impact; I’m more distracted by the political stuff than in years past. I did just join twitter this year, and I’m wondering if that is part of it, or if it’s just the trainwreck of Trump’s candidacy that is making it worse than prior years.

  89. Gonna join the me-too chorus on this one.

    I suspect that we’re similar in this regard, John, that we sorta get sucked in by most backstage, horse-race stories. Politico is not that far from Variety in that regard. And as with previous elections, there is a certain moral tension that creates a feedback loop as the entertainment value of politics-as-sports takes on some real stakes.

    But this election – man. When it was Romney/Obama there were real stakes to me, obviously. The fate of the ACA, the tipping point of marriage rights in the country – these were things I was genuinely worried about. There were stakes in Bush/Kerry to, a real sense that there were central moral causes at the center of the thing.

    This one, when I breathe and try to take stock and get my head clear – I’m not worried about the fate of Americans in the sense of making sure that people I love and care are treated as well as possible by the policies of the government, instead, I’m worried about America the country. The stakes feel scary higher than they’ve ever been.

    And the horse race stuff is more popcorny than ever! On top of that, where we once had a single bright light of Jon Stewart, there are now a thousand points of light in the comedy commentariat. This is both a way more frightening and way more entertaining election than ever before.

    Consider – I just spent 10 minutes of a meeting I should be attending to reading replies here and writing my own…

  90. It’s nice to know I’m not the only one getting the bare minimums done. I wonder how much the general productivity level of the country will rise once the election and post-election nonsense (because I do believe there will be Trumpist nonsense) is over? My personal opinion is that political distractions won’t die down until Thanksgiving.

  91. Another, Hell yes! While I was always a news junkie compared to the rest of my family, it was under control and was slaked by listening to NPR on the drives back and forth. Now I’m listening to election podcasts, checking my glass slabs (big and small) from when I get up until I get ready for bed to see if there is a sense of sanity prevailing or if we are getting ready for Civil War II. The worse the slinging, the worse I’ve been feeling.

    The single thing that helped the most over the last week was SNL’s Black Jeopardy sketch because it was a great reminder that we all want almost the same thing. Respect from our government and respect from each other.

    15 days and counting.

  92. Hard for me to say. My real loss of productivity has been due to exacerbated depression after a recent family loss I’m still coming to terms with, and so I may be paying more attention politically as escapism. Don’t know if I would’ve watched the debate otherwise. But maybe I would’ve lost just as much time to all this, just with more guilt if it weren’t self-care of a sort.

  93. Exactly so, distracting and anxiety inducing. But all that has subsided a bit (not entirely) since the third debate. Well, the anxiety started ebbing after Pussygate but I was still afflicted with the obsession to see how it was affecting the polls and the evangelicals and the Republican endorsers and apologists. Not too surprisingly, it didn’t affect all that many evangelicals. I never held much hope that they would turn out to have a moral backbone, although some did. It is gratifying in a way to see that the likes of Paul Ryan and other holier-than-thou GOP leaders would refuse to unendorse. Gratifying because it confirmed my suspicion that their righteousness was a fraud from the get-go. And also gratifying because it will stick to them like stink on shit. This does not wash off. See you at the polls.

  94. I basically wake up and immediately check Politico to make sure I didn’t miss anything. This turns into a spiral of clicking on about 10 links and sending them to new tabs so I can read them over the next few hours. So…yes, this election has made work a bit harder…

  95. Oddly, I’ve been less distracted by the post-primary section of this election cycle than I normally am. The last couple of elections, I was consumed by reading the various polls, but now… meh. It now appears to be less of a contest than a mere waiting period to see what happens in the aftermath.

  96. Dear John,

    Personally? No. It hasn’t impacted my productivity in the least. But I reached my saturation point on this rancorous nonstop campaign some time before either party’s convention, and since then have been able to ignore about 75% of the insanity.

    But saturation and election fatigue, oh yeah. Vivian brought me back a T-shirt from the Franklin Institute that reads: “Election 2016 : Time to Move To Mars” because, really it’s all just too much.

    And it’s only three weeks until the 2020 campaign starts! Auuggghh.

    Demographically, I am sure I am an outlier on the distraction factor. All my sweeties are obsessed with the election. Can’t blame them; I just maxxed out early.

    pax / Ctein

  97. I spent way too much time following the election — and I’m a political junkie. Fortunately, though, my work gig currently involves building a website to support campaign consultants. And it’s amazing how much material you can read while doing compile/debug cycles… :)

  98. Hell, I don’t even live in the USA and I find myself compulsively checking RCP Polls agregate and FiveThirtyEight!

  99. My wife has been seriously side-swiped by the elections. Much of her facebook time is spent on various Trump/Clinton net-phernalia. She’s been pretty absorbed with it all and many of our discussions revolve around the latest in that regard.

    After the first debate I basically ‘switched’ it all off. Hearing Trump speak as a political candidate in a debate setting was confirmation that the man was legitimately hamstrung by his own immaturity and arrogance. I figured the only thing that might make him a serious opponent to Hillary was if he would shut up and do nothing but read the teleprompter. That’s clearly not going to happen in this lifetime. He is what he is and that’s not changing. And what he has to say? Pretty random stuff like watching Archie in a tiffy on All in the Family.

  100. Wow, another me too. (I wonder if the lack of productivity will show up in the GDP?) A daily check of 538, The Atlantic and whatever. I sometimes feel cheated if DT hasn’t let loose with another piece outrage, or I can’t read about someone spanking him for yesterday’s outrage.

  101. Not my productivity. It was sidelined by chemo brain, and now that chemo’s been over for a month I’m back in the saddle. But yes it does dominate my thoughts otherwise. I wish I’d been well this year, so I could do precinct walking in swing states. Nobody seems to care how California votes.

  102. What’s that feeling of poking at an infected tooth, when you know better, and every time you do you think, “Geez, I shouldn’t have poked that.” That’s my brain, but constantly over the past few months.

  103. Oh hell yes. I was finishing a ms revision in September and now am starting the edits and fact-check and I have been so, so slowed down by the relentless pace of the news and also by general election-induced existential dread. Thank you for letting me know it’s not just me.

  104. Here in the CLE, it’s sports that’s the biggest distraction lately. :-)
    Game 1 of the World Series and the Cavs’ season opener / raising of the 2016 NBA Championship banner and ring ceremony are literally across the street from each other in the same hour.
    Did you note that your pal Tom Hanks yelled “Go Tribe!” at the end of SNL last week?
    So glad it’s us and the Cubs! May the best team win!

  105. It’s messing with my productivity. I’m a freelance graphic designer, if I’m not working I don’t get paid. And here I am, at 3:35, on a Monday afternoon, reading your blog about posting a comment about the election. Even though I’ve got several projects that really need to be done NOW!!!

  106. We have a very small indie publishing house and I have found myself in tears and non-productivity over this election. My partner regularly has told me to play with the koi game on my phone or to kill stuff in Dark Souls because it’s more uplifting. Yes, it’s less traumatic to be killed 153 times in an hour than to listen to election coverage. I have lost months of productivity in the last year and a half.

  107. Nope, not just writers. My giant [redacted/replaced] steam powered mechs [/replaced] are mostly running loose and getting into mischief while I waste time on teh social commentary. *sigh* What a weak fleshling I’ve become.

  108. Beyond yes. I’m an engineer in crunch time, yet most of my mornings are spent consuming my RSS feed to see what insanity has happened today. Not until the East Coast starts to shut down and stop publishing can I get really productive most days. Which plays hob with getting home for dinner, since I’m still hammering to get things done before I leave. :-P I can hardly wait for the end of the crazy 17-clown-car pileup into the dumpster fire.

  109. Software engineer here. Yes, I have had difficulty staying focused. I’m obsessively checking Twitter for the latest news. I had to add fivethirtyeight.com to my hosts file on my work computer to prevent me from checking it during work hours (it didn’t work; I just use my phone instead).

    Two more weeks. I’m not sure if I can make it.

  110. Anything long-term, yes. I can function normally while actively working with clients (as a personal trainer) but my writing productivity has taken a nosedive. This election has hurt a lot more than that, though, although what it has hurt may be the root cause. I no longer see value in our species where so many people can support someone like Donald Trump and that really blocks my creative motivation.

  111. I devote a couple of hours each morning (well, after I wake up) to reading, so I haven’t seen a huge drop in my productivity (I write books for Microsoft Press and create courses for lynda.com, plus some other side projects). However, the election has been a distraction in the sense that I’ve had the same existential dread described by other folks in this thread. It’s certainly made it harder to get things done.

  112. So I’ve actually had a couple of different issues. The first is just the intense distraction. The second is the anxiety, compounded by this sense that if I spend more time writing about politics and re-Tweeting stuff, this will keep disaster from our door.

    The third — like you, I write SF. A good chunk of what I write is near-future SF. And this election has paralyzed me in the sense that the outcome is so clearly a dividing point that I feel like I can’t properly imagine the future until I know which road we take this November.

  113. Unlike most, apparently, much less than past years for me. What’s the interesting part? Orange Hitler will lose to Grandma Nixon, and the only people with interesting ideas are so far out in the wilderness that they might as well not be playing.

  114. Nope. But only because I get paid to write about American Political Crap, among other things. It’s. Fun.

  115. It hasn’t affected my day job of being a tech support guru, but all of my other passions have fallen to the wayside to a large extent. I finished a novel in the summer and started another, but then I abandoned it, and now my plan is to finish a totally different unfinished novel for NaNoWriMo. I also have an editing project that’s not overdue, but I planned to get some tasks out of the way early, and I haven’t. I’m not really working on my visual art at all. For a while, I also had a hard time working on some charity projects, too.

    However, I’m moving to Wisconsin because I can’t stand the New Orleans heat any more, and this summer has been especially hot, so that probably had quite a bit to do with it, too.

  116. ZOMFG Yes! I have been obsessed (and I know this word is overused) with the election. It’s destroyed my productivity in much the same way you describe. How can we get our brains back?

  117. I am a political junkie of the first water. I worked for a PAC, I have voted in every major election (and 90% of the minor ones – school board races, special elections, etc). I also started a new position in April that has me working 10-12 hour days on average. Which means I have had zero time for the idiocy that is this election cycle.

    Honestly, I pretty much checked out after the WA caucus. I went with Bernie Sanders over Clinton because at that time I liked what he was bringing to the table and while I knew he wasn’t going to win the primary, I thought the issues were important. And then the world went catawampus in a way I have never experienced.

    It was exhausting. It was literally exhausting to get up and see what the latest spew was from the GOP, what the latest lambasting was of our first female presidential candidate (dear God, comments on her clothing? comments on her smile? Really?), then came the Bernie Bros – who were, thankfully, a small subgroup of the Sanders supporters and Trump won the nomination… and I gave up. I just gave up.

    For the first time since I can remember, I did not watch the debates, I have not followed politico, I have not actively sought info on this campaign. I didn’t need to. I have the asshole with the Trump sign on the exit ramp near my house screaming at me because I won’t respond to his insistence that I honk for Donald. I have Twitter and Facebook harshing my bliss with flat out vindictive responses to anything that challenges the dearly held beliefs – sorry, “facts” – that I have been incautious enough to post.

    So YES, DEAR GOD THIS ELECTION! Can it just be over now? Please?

  118. I have 2 papers due tomorrow and can’t stop myself from refreshing 538 obsessively.

    Yeah, it’s affecting my productivity.

  119. I’m blessed (or cursed) to be self-employed in the Property Management business, so some days I have waaaaaay too much time on my hands to read about politics on the internet. It’s dragging me down intellectually and emotionally to the point where I have a hard time getting anything complicated done, and my meds are just barely keeping the negatively obsessive parts of my brain in check.

    On the other hand, my desk is cleaner than it has been in years, and I pulled 15 years of accumulated junk (enough to fill one of those Bagster things!) out from under the deck last week. At least I can still manage the mindless tasks.

  120. My day-job productivity is certainly affected, although it would be worse if I were still commuting into DC instead of working at home. However, creative work (in my case, music composition) has been impossible for months. I downloaded the latest update of Finale for Mac and haven’t touched it since.

    As for anxiety, this doesn’t compare to what was going on here in the DC suburbs 14 years ago at this time: the random sniper killings, which ended when the perpetrators were caught just before Halloween. I had constant TMJ pain during those weeks from sheer tension; more than half the killings took place within 4-5 miles of home.

    I will be obliged to drive north into rural central PA tomorrow and will accordingly have to look at ~100 Trump yard signs en route; at least that’s how many there were on U.S. 522 two weeks ago. I will be encouraged somewhat if there’s any noticeable decrease in their numbers. (There is also the occasional Clinton/Kaine sign; last time, 5 or 6 total on the same route.)

  121. My sincerest sympathies! (It’s also not just you). I’ve found that my depression symptoms have been amplified since the election “festivities” began months and months and months (did I mention months?) ago. But that could also be because my entire family is composed of Trump supporters. Ah, yes, that’s probably it. :(

  122. My creative wheels are spinning too, I guess from feeling stunned by everything that’s been happening. My problem is that many of my nearest and dearest (thankfully not my wife) are doggedly pro-Republican and therefore Trump; and they appear insanely impervious to logic or my sense of moral vision. As far as I can see, everyone around me would still vote pro-neo Nazi Cruz even. I blame Fox and local news. Ironically, that’s Trump’s complaint about the media too, isn’t it?

    Yesterday my mom told me proudly over the phone that she and all others near her had just mailed in their pro-Republican votes, and how good she’d felt; and she waited for me to praise her. I could only … just … remain silent. She’s in her nineties and what is there to say? I need time to sort this all out.

  123. I’m a US ex-pat living in the UK. I woke my husband up in the wee hours of the morning on June 24th to tell him that Brexit had passed. My next words were “Holy fuck, Trump is going to become president.” I really hope I wasn’t prescient, but I’ve been filled with sick dread ever since.

    I read multiple election news sites multiple times a day. I woke in the middle of the night (UK time) when the last debate was on and watched it on my phone with earbuds while my husband slept next to me. Every so often, I have to take a news moratorium for a few days, but it never lasts. We’re teetering on the abyss over here – thankfully May isn’t charismatic enough to be a demagogue – but I don’t want to see both my home countries go that way.

    I mailed my absentee ballot the day after I received it. That made me relax a little. But not much.

  124. Retired, so productivity not a real issue for me. But: I never watch live tv, and yet I saw all three Trump/Clinton debates; I check FiveThirtyEight compulsively; and I have to ration talking about Trump news items for fear of falling into raging incoherency.

    I’d like to think it’ll all be over in 15 days, but I fear the stench of racism, xenophobia, antisemitism, and misogyny will take a long time to fade away, if it ever does.

  125. Honestly, the nature of my job is such that a lot of it is very routine, so I have had a hard time managing my distractedness even before the election. So it’s probably not affecting my productivity that much. I voted by mail a number of weeks ago, so I’m more in avoidance mode than compulsively clicking news links these days. I do definitely feel a sense of ongoing, low level anxiety/dread about what the outcome of the election could be, though.

  126. I’m a systems engineer, and so very much this.

    I’m starting to suspect that the design work I’ve done in the last 6 months should probably go out for a quality check before it’s actually deployed in a customer location…

  127. Thank you for bringing up the topic. Until this morning, when I spent some time writing down why I’m depressed (debut novel has been selling NOTHING for a month), and discovered the sense of dread about Trump, I hadn’t really thought about it – had just been sitting at the computer watching the train wreck.

    I have little energy due to illness – it was ALL being used up.

    I think I’m going to let the rest of you do the remaining worrying – and see if I can get back to work. It is appalling that even the POSSIBILITY of this man representing the nation I love exists.

    I’m a tall, blue-eyed blonde – and 1/4 Mexican. It has been beyond surreal to see him/it tell his audiences that Mexico will pay for the ridiculous wall.

  128. Do you feel compelled to monitor the election?

    If that’s your question John, my answer would be “yes, but…”, with voice trailing off, shamefully muttering “and that ain’t all”.

    It’s an occupational hazard/excuse amongst those of us who write/design for a living. Deadlines offer a slippery motivation.

    (btw: THANK YOU for The Dispatcher; you might as well know I would have paid for it. More in the Colonial world, please).

  129. Holy shit, yes! It’s not even the distraction that’s the problem, it’s everything else; the anxiety, the emotional drain, etc that has led to a decline in productivity.

    And I’m not even American.

  130. Not only are the distractions throwing me off my writing pace, everything I’m writing is dark and depressing, even angry. It’s not good.

  131. Ohhhh yes. The horse race has been so much more upsetting and addictive this year than any other year I remember. I think part of it is the need to keep tabs on Trump and be reassured that he’s unlikely to win. My personal situation means that a Trump presidency would be disastrous for me: I’m a federal employee in DC, my spouse is a (legal) immigrant, and as I’m in my late 20s I’d have to live with the aftermath for a very long time. As with any source of anxiety, it’s incredibly hard to focus with all this looming over me.

  132. Yes, both my writing and also my regular job which is as a Plan Administrator for Indiana Legal Services. I work a lot from home in both of these occupations and I find myself putting things off to obsessively watch the news, check out Facebook. I’m normally a committed NASCAR fan and my usual fare on Sirius is the NASCAR channel but I’ve barely listened lately, instead switching from MSNBC to POTUS to the Patriot Channel to keep tabs on everything that is going on. And like, jdrhoades, I find myself being more downbeat and depressed. I will be so glad when this is over! Although, sadly, the Trump devotees will still be and I expect, still causing trouble.

  133. Hoping that I (and many of the other commenters) here are not representative of the population as a whole, because I’ve definitely taken a major productivity hit, obsessing over the latest fivethirtyeight.com updates, checking politico and TPM, listening to political podcasts. The collective hit to US productivity seems like it would be significant.

    Maybe Annenberg or some foundation could sponsor some research on whether US GDP would get a bump if we restricted political campaigns to a reasonable 2 or 3 month period before the election?

    On the plus side, I now have some patience with rubbernecking drivers near accident sites, since I’m doing the exact same thing: I long ago decided who I was voting for, I’ve donated, I’m definitely voting. The grotesque circus that is the Trump campaign isn’t going to affect what I do at all, and yet I can’t look away.

  134. Like others here, I’m a software engineer. Unlike most, the election has not affected my productivity at all. It’s elevated my stress level slightly in terms of worry about whether Trump will nuke us all into oblivion if he wins, but there’s effectively nothing I can do about that (other than what I already plan to do), so it’s much less stressful than many other things in my life.

    I’m not a political junkie, so other than checking in on Five Thirty Eight every day or two (which takes all of maybe 20 seconds) and occasionally reading some interesting-looking article that shows up in my social media feeds, it has not been a big distraction for me. I’ll probably spend more time over the next week figuring out how I’m going to vote in state and local elections than I’ve spend in the last month on anything in the electoral cycle.

    My deepest sympathies to everyone whose life and/or well-being are being disrupted by this election cycle. I don’t know what makes me different in this way. I don’t think I’m a sociopath…

  135. Still meeting all my work deadlines but it has been one heck of a distraction and I have never been angrier during an election. It has really knocked me out of many good mood and had me practicing breathing exercises.

  136. As a teacher, I have a lot of externalities* that help keep me on some semblance of a schedule. Plus, I’m piling a new curriculum, on top of new textbook, on top of a 1-to-1 initiative rollout, so any delays and stress can be laid at the feet of that.

    * about 160 of them, to be precise

  137. I don’t even (directly) have a dog in this fight, but I’ve spent plenty of time following this election. And on Brexit, of course. 2016 has pretty much sucked for a whole range of reasons.

    I’ll be thrilled once this has passed – as long as there’s not a horrible last-minute surge for the psychotic orange bigot.

  138. Recovering from this election is going to take some time as well. All of the anxiety and distraction is going to turn into a void when the election is over, and it’ll take a while to find a way to fill it.
    Early voting just opened here today. I’m planning to go out and vote now so that I can start recuperating.

  139. Tech support over here. Yes, it has affected my productivity. I have just been diagnosed with fibromyalgia, which means Stress->Pain->Can’t work->Stress and the wheel rolls on. I have a trans minor child. You bet I’m stressed!

    And FWIW, I mentioned it to my fibro team and the nurse told me that she is seeing it in almost every client. This election is literally leading to pain for some significant fraction of us.

    In a normal election year I joke about needing to be sedated. This one? I’ve changed the joke to induced coma.

    What has helped? Voting early – I can, and that means if the stress mounts in the next two weeks to the point I have a serious flare it won’t keep me at home! Which, in turn, has dropped the stress a bit. I’ve done what I can. Now, I’m just praying.

  140. In between revisions and checking proofs and other ephemera for books–in-progress, my primary task for the spring and summer was thumbnailing a graphic novel — basically, very simple first-pass drawings of every page in the book, which for me feels like equal parts revision and architecture. Not something you can do with your brain turned off, for better or worse.

    I was trucking along all right through June, maybe early July. But as the summer progressed, sitting down and getting into the correct headspace became harder and harder, and my daily window of meaningful productivity shrank, and I wondered “What the hell is wrong with me, I’ve been doing this work for years, I’ve cleared my schedule, why do I feel like an elephant is sitting on my chest every time I try to get a few pages banged out?” And this feeling only worsened through late summer and into early fall.

    Sometime in September I put the pieces together.

    It’s been a rough, ROUGH time.

  141. I’ve been ignoring this shit show the best I can. The only thing paying attention to the race does for me is make me further lose faith in humanity. I’ve read far more about the race here on Whatever than I have from every other source combined. Second place would be the SNL debate skits and I’ve only seen two of those. Other than that, I’m closing my eyes, plugging my ears and yelling “Naa naa naa naa”.

    Here’s how good my filtering has been: earlier this month a friend sent me an email about Tim Kaine’s favorite band being The Replacements. I had no idea who Tim Kaine was.

    Even though Trump will most likely lose the election, he has empowered the most awful members of American society. They’re not going to suddenly see the error of their ways and become enlightened and civilized because their torch bearer loses this “rigged” election. They’ll just get more belligerent and violent. I had a horrible fear that Obama was going to be assassinated because he is a black man. That fear will be double with Hillary as president.

    So, the answer to the question is that my productivity hasn’t been diminished from paying too much attention to the race. But it is affected by my sense of dread and depression about the aftermath.

  142. This whole election cycle has been a nightmare. Like some of the other posters, I found that I began limiting election news. I watched the first and second debate but skipped the third. Dropped off my ballot today. The election has not been a factor in my productivity. At first, I wanted Sanders, and then Hillary when she became the nominee. At no point was I ever a Trump supporter so no matter what he said or did I was never going to support him. Thus, no reason to lose any productivity over Trump and his minions.

  143. What I’m noticing is that, no matter who I’m having a conversation with, and no matter what we start out talking about, we always end up wailing about the election. Always. It’s bloody eerie, I’m telling you, especially since I promised myself very early on that I was going to put Absolutely No Energy of any sort into the nightmare that is the Republican candidate. It’s like a frackin’ psychic plague or something.

  144. My work hasn’t really suffered, but my hobby, avocation of writing poetry has.
    Civilization,
    There’s a price we have to pay.
    Taxes — Politics

  145. Given that my job consists almost entirely of being physically in the building in case somebody tries to die on us (I’m a nurse working in a jail) my productivity hasn’t changed much, if any. It has cut down the amount of Netflix binging while on the clock though.

  146. Political theater is certainly the common topic -now- but the reason John and others are loosing focus is the rise of social media; that in your face, swirl of distractions we have chosen to surround ourselves with. Sorry to say, but if you want to stay on target, turn off your notifications and don’t visit your social media sites until your work is done. Seriously folks, it’s akin to telling your kids to turn off the telly (or YouTube) until after the homework and chores are done.

  147. Totally. I’m a scientist and I’ve found I can’t get thinking work done unless I flee to a coffee shop and keep my internet turned off. Otherwise, it’s refresh on Twitter, WaPo, etc.

  148. Oh yepper. Not at work – I’m assistant manager at a gift shop in Cape May, NJ, and no access to computers / internet at work (I have my smart phone, but when at work only use it for actual phone calls.) Non-work hours… oh Gods. Between having my husband need to go into a nursing home (gah, the red tape nightmare known as applying for Medicaid… ugh. I can’t even.) and the land mine filled political landscape, I find myself letting things like putting together newsletters, meeting minutes etc for the groups I belong to, working on family history projects for clients (part time side job) and housekeeping have all been allowed to slide. A lot of times I can’t even concentrate well enough to do the jobs right… Frankly, going to work is a bit of a relief; few people – either fellow employees or our customers – talk about politics. And when I’m home and I find it getting a bit rocky, there is always going to http://www.tinykittens.com and watching live streaming video of kittens playing (or even just sleeping.)

  149. Fuck yeah. I’ve been on a half year sabbatical for most of the time – and especially the last two months I’ve been reading newspapers like crazy (no TV to distract me further, praise Jeeeeeesus!!!) and watching John Oliver and Saturday Night Live clips as a kind of anti-venom.

    (Luckily I didn’t have other distractions, so my own editing work didn’t suffer much but I’m sure I must have lost six to eight hours per day to this repulsive black hole of an election – and I am Dutch, for fuck sake…)

  150. Oh, yes. My day job is at a public policy school at a major university, so there’s no escape there. I’m surprised 538 and TalkingPointsMemo aren’t burned into my laptop screen. Writing is way down. Even worse, I find it hard to read fiction. My only relief is watching all the seasons of RuPaul’s Drag Race. That fact that it exists is a sign of how far we have come.

  151. Less obsessive than 2004 which was the last one that I really was worried about the end result in a major way. But being overseas and having already voted early helps. I expected this one to be very nasty and it has more than lived up to its billing. I think this has done more than its fair share in contributing to the sense of dread I’ve had about this past year, but as a country we’ve been through worse. Just not in 30+ years.

  152. Yes. And now you have recursively made it worse, as Ourobouros like we worry about worrying about the election.

  153. I am among those who’ve found that this election – particularly Trump’s abusive and near-abusive behavior – reawakened a lot of pain and fear in me. Many old wounds I’d come to some peace with have all flared up again, enough that I’ve been waking early with anxiety dreams every damn day. It is exhausting.

    I’ve already voted (everyone gets an early mail-in ballot here in Colorado) and Mr. J and I have started our canvassing work for the election. That is one useful way I’ve found to channel some of the fear and distress.

    Anytime I get lost in a movie or any small thing it is so refreshing and I realize all over again how much this drags on my brain and my heart. I want more than anything for this to be over, and to end with a thorough repudiation of Trump and all he stands for.

  154. I suspect it may be partly because you live in a swing state. Now, I realize you’ve lived in this swing state for several presidential elections now, but this one is particularly bitterly contested, so you’re going to be bombarded with election-related advertising and discussion.

    I haven’t found this election particularly distracting, but I live near the border of Kentucky and Indiana, two solidly red states, so presidential politics feels somewhat abstract. It reminds me of when I lived in California. Presidential candidates basically ignore you, and the actual decision on who gets to be President is really up to the voters in Ohio, North Carolina, and Florida.

  155. software engineer here.
    work productivity has been badly impacted by this election year and my ongoing attempts to understand how we got to this point.
    at home my wife and I have fought more often than ever before, in some 30 years of marriage. DW rejoices in a healthy immune system, which rejects political discussions as bad for health: I obsess about the wicked cruelty of the neoliberal political economy and its consequences. Luckily a glass of Scotch offers temporary relief.

  156. twitters,

    board outside bookseller, “Fiction. Because real life is terrible.”
    Keep writing John, we need you now more than ever.. ;-)

    Psychiatrist can’t treat Trump anxiety with CBT because anxious thoughts about Trump aren’t irrational or distorted.

  157. Definitely not just you. I’m currently full-time writing but had a day job until recently and that wasn’t negatively impacted but only because I put a lot of work into making sure it wasn’t.

    I’m personally interested in this election but also have a bit of a reputation, established when following the election was my job in 2008 (I worked for a now-defunct website that collected on-the-record statements of candidates at all levels — including but not limited to presidential — and presented them in an easily-searchable format), and felt like I had to keep on top of things for that reason. People contact me saying, “I don’t have to freak out about this debate, right? She’ll be fine?” and “Trump is surging in the polls!!! We’re doomed, right?” and such pretty frequently.

    But honestly I probably would be paying this much attention even without that factor. It’s certainly a gripping reality show.

  158. I’m in the military, and interestingly, it’s not having much effect. People will express their express their general disgust with the whole process, and maybe even lament the quality (or lack thereof) of the candidates. But, one of them is going to be our Commander in Chief, and we’re pretty well drilled that we don’t participate in the political process. So despite the huge impact, there’s remarkably little talk in the military that I’ve seen so far.

  159. (Caveat: I’m a technical writer, so perhaps not exactly the kind of writer you meant.)

    Yes, it’s affected my productivity. Part of that is spending more time following the news and commentary. But a large part is the relentless mix of distress and eustress of the whole thing. I’m a woman who never thought this country would elect a woman president in my lifetime. That we’ve gotten so close to it actually happening fills me with so much joy and hope it sometimes feels like I’m choking on it. That I see misogyny (and racism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, etc.) pouring from the mouths of conservative politicians blatantly rather than in hints and implications chokes me with terror. Living simultaneously with both those sets of emotions is exhausting. I simply can’t focus some days, and my productivity suffers.

  160. It’s affecting my side hobbies more than work, but I’m having too many of those realizations that I just spent a couple hours doing something I don’t have to do, that I’m not getting paid to do, and that I don’t even enjoy.

  161. I’m retired, so I normally do dressmaking, knitting, weaving and so forth, in between reading thoroughly enjoyable books. Apart from reading, and listening to a thoroughly enjoyable novella, I haven’t been doing that for almost 4 months now.

    On this side of the pond we already have Brexit screwing up our lives; the prospect of a US President who is completely unable to control himself, in close proximity to the codes for nuclear Armageddon, really isn’t helping.

    For those considering voting for other candidates, or not voting at all, please, please, please vote for Clinton; look at what has happened here, where a chunk of the population saw voting Leave as a risk free way of booting politicians, only to discover we are apparently in a time machine currently stuck in the 19th century. It’s not a good place to be, and you really wouldn’t enjoy it.

  162. It’s impacting my productivity more and more as general sense of “How the fuck did we get here?” sets in. This whole election is a dumpster fire, but one that seemingly everyone wants to discuss. And the closer we get to Nov. 8, the worse it’s getting.

  163. Yes! I was off the week of the Republican convention and became hooked on the ultimate reality show. I had to unintelligible Twitter from my phone because I was staying up underp there covers refreshing to see what happened now and what people thought of it. Thank you for writing this. You’very saved me from feeling completely out there in my lunacy and procrastination.

  164. Oh yes. And of course here in London we also have the slow motion car crash of Brexit. It’s been fascinating spending the last couple of months up and down the west coast of the US listening to people talk politics (yes I’m a journalist, but I was on your side of the pond to cover the enterprise tech conference season…)

    So I’ve been in CA, NV, UT, and WA. Very different states, very different conversations. You know something is out of whack when a senior politician in a very conservative state tells a room of CxOs and VCs that they’re not going to vote for their party’s candidate.,,

  165. OMG yes. I can’t get anything done. It’s like watching a car accident in slow motion.

  166. Yes. The campaign and conversations on You-Tube sucked up a lot of hours and energy that should have been going into accomplishing something. Plus the very real possibility of full blown fascism left me in a cloud of depression that was hard to overcome.

  167. I am listening to the NPR politics podcast right this second as I read Feedly instead of doing the 3 writing assignments I’m already late on. This is my final semester of my Master’s degree, and I can’t concentrate on a darn thing. I try to avoid the news altogether, but it’s nearly impossible, and then some little tidbit pulls me right back in. It’s awful, I feel awful, and my schoolwork is horribly affected.

  168. Yep, I’m off my game a bit too. I teach U.S. History, so I’m already a bit of a political junkie. This election feels like watching an accident – you know you shouldn’t, but you just can’t stop watching. I’m trying to be more self-disciplined in these last few days.

  169. I’m not American, don’t live in America, and can’t vote in this election, but from the other side of the globe I’m writing off 2016 thanks to election angst. I have American relatives, half of whom (the religious and/or uneducated white male half) (seriously) are voting in such a way that makes me glad I don’t still live there and have to deal with them. The silver lining is that I lived in a staunchly red state that *may* turn blue in November.

    Meanwhile, I haven’t been able to write effectively for 6 months and feel generally depressed, even as the polls have shifted encouragingly over the past few weeks.

    This election cycle is damaging the psyche of humanity.

  170. I don’t have time to read all the comments because I’m too busy jumping back and forth to 538, HuffPost Pollster, TPM Polltracker, and RCP.

  171. Add another data point to throw on the bonfire — I’ve always been easily distracted by the shiny, but this election season has gotten me wondering if it’s finally time for Ritalin. Database administrator here, and getting into code-writing mode for this new project is a lot more difficult than it was when I wasn’t pondering the possible demise of the Republic. Trump’s nuclear nihilism also brings up all those fun Cold War memories, which isn’t helping.

  172. Not in my case. Although I suspect that there are a few factors affecting my attitude:
    1) I work in an office, so keeping my mind on productivity is easier
    2) I’m Canadian, and therefore able to watch the whole business unfold with a kind of detached horror rather than the actively involved horror of an American citizen
    3) I’ve kind of always thought of American politics as a clusterfuck, so this is really just a more extreme iteration of something I’ve already seen.

  173. Hell yes. It’s been a dumpster fire by the side of the road. The scary thing is, Trump wasn’t the worst candidate in the GOP line up – that was either Cruz or Santorum, which is terrifying. Not sure how we get to a functioning government from here, though.

    At least I became a US citizen two years ago – I could see the writing on the wall with regards to immigration, so decided to do it sooner rather than later.

  174. Yes.

    I wake up every day wondering what’s happened since I last checked the news the evening before.

    I couldn’t understand why I feel so stressed. But then I realized it was the way I felt back in August 1990 when I woke up every day wondering if today was the day my military unit was going to get orders to deploy, or if the units already downrange had gone to war overnight.

  175. Yup. All of us. (Well, except the accountant upthread who, you know, accountant, disciplined, and so on, right?) I’m just hoping my mind isn’t permanently pureed into this twilight Waiting-for-Godot state.

  176. I’ve been in a malaise for roughly a month with my normal productivity level having crashed in to the toilet. I’m feeling hopeless and afraid. And I blame it on the election. I used to be an avid politics junkie to the point of considering running for local office and now I can barely stomach thinking about what as a nation are doing to ourselves.

  177. This election has cost time, friends, family, productivity, worry, anger, etc. It’s threatening to damage the nation, it could easily damage the world if it goes wrong.

    “The price of liberty is always paid in blood.”

  178. Oh, I’m right there with you. So wound up. I see my experience written out many times in the posts above. Thank you everyone for letting me know I’m nit alone. My usual fora are quiet, the election has sucked the life out of them.
    In three days I can finally early vote. I’m going to be so relieved.

  179. As it happens, the election has not slowed my writing down. If anything, because much of what I write is topical political satire, it has given me an unexpected bounty of material!

  180. This presidential campaign cycle has been so draining. On the one hand it’s like watching a train wreck happen, as well as feeling one has to be checking reliable sources all the time in an attempt to retain a bit of sanity.
    The quest for retaining sanity seems almost futile some days.
    I think more Scamperbeast photos might be part of the antidote.

  181. Try Ritalin. I work in front of a computer all day. I know better than to chck the internet much during work. I am paid to produce. If I dont work, I wont have a job.
    My motivation is I have a boss and deadlines.

    Two crap candidates. There is nothing that motivates me to pay attention.

    You guys are going to make Trump TV really popular…

    If you want somwthing specifically about the genre try the Wertzone blog. He did an excellent set of blog posts on the history of epic fantasy. There is also a cool blog called crpgaddict. The guy has a project to play every crpg ever made. He does very good reviews of older games. He even finds reviews from when the game came out.

    Vote for Gary Johnson and if you see Scalzi in a state where weed is legal slip him a happy brownie. It will change his life.

  182. Fixating news versus productivity a common conflict (for certain values of “common”).  I remember when the first Persian Gulf War was in progress, listening to radio coverage while at work — until I found out that the rest of the department was in the boss’s office watching live coverage on the TV the boss had brought in.  I also recall, in 6th grade, an Announcment From The Principal to the effect that we might bring portable radios and listen to the World Series BUT ONLY DURING RECESS, listen any other time and they’d confiscate your radio.  The stakes of war versus election versus World Series vary by orders of magnitude, and the lag to result and payoff ditto, but the challenges of managing attention and focus are similar.

  183. Greg wrote:

    The retaking of mosul? The disaster in Allepo? Russia? China? Phillpines? Brexit? How can someone know which candidate has the best solutions for these problems, unless the voter understands them as good as the candidate?

    Some of these problems are not the business of the US President, such as Brexit. The idea that the US must solve all world problems has led to many disasters, and it makes no real sense.

    Voters cant do that. So they rely on shortcuts. Like who has the best hair. Who did or did not scream a weird sounding raaawwwrrrr! And we have parties who winnow the candiddates for us.

    I think you’re mistaken here too. These aren’t shortcuts, they’re what most voters care about most. That includes the more “educated” candidates, who are somewhat more subtle about it — but not by much. Do you love my candidate? Do you hate the other candidate? Do they make you feel good about yourself, about America? Will they make America great again? Is America already great? And so on.

  184. Yes, and, but. I am particularly disturbed by how easy and effective it is to promulgate outrage. Not that outrage isn’t warranted, but I’m not sure I have ever seen it commoditized in such magnitude.

  185. As I’m also a Hillary for America Fellow (i.e., a sort of super volunteer and part of the leadership team at the Dallas Hillary campaign office), it’s almost inevitable that my productivity in other areas of my life have…well, if not plummeted, then certainly been affected. Of course, my day job must be tended to since that’s what pays the bills and keeps my household afloat, but otherwise I’ve had to be ruthless with my time. Laundry and cooking have to be done, of course, but only the bare minimum to survive and look presentable. CNN is on from the moment I wake up until I go to bed at night, Sunday through Saturday, and one of the highlights of my year was when Jake Tapper tweeted me. Six months ago I didn’t even know who he was.

    I’m almost a bit nervous about what will happen November 9. If I can assume that Hillary will win, and that a civil war won’t break out, what then? I can imagine a deafening silence falling on the world, and my dogs beseeching me with their chestnut-brown eyes: “NOW, will you walk us again?”

  186. Me and most of my friends have a nervous fear going on that underlines everything. I have to believe that Hillary will win or I’ll go off… somewhere. I’ve never had an election put my friends in danger of actual physical harm before. I’ve started blocking a lot, and also diving into distractions I normally avoid, like serious gaming when my carpal tunnel’s acting up from writing. I’ve also thrown myself into a massive fanfic that’s acting as distraction, and therefore it’s running quite swimmingly!

  187. It’s been a lot more distracting here in Australia too – something I suspect the current Australian government is counting on, since their level of competence is … somewhat less than optimal.

    But then, this is part of a larger trend regarding US elections in general – I’m noticing that more and more time is being sunk into the presidential campaigns, that the campaigning is kicking off earlier and earlier, and that your government effectively goes into “caretaker” mode sooner and sooner. The big example of this was the 2008 campaign, where the Bush government apparently gave up doing anything about anything by about April 2008, and as a result, the whole world wound up with the Global Financial Crisis. A similar example can be found in the current campaign season, where the US Congress and Senate apparently decided your government was going to go into “caretaker mode” in about February (about the point where Justice Scalia died) and have been blocking any attempts to do anything about the whole business of replacing a Supreme Court justice ever since.

    Essentially, I suspect the day is not long coming where presidential election campaigns will essentially signal a year-long shut-down of the US governmental and economic systems – with consequent knock-on effects everywhere else. You (as in “the USA in general”) may want to consider the concept of “campaign limits” (which work very nicely in the UK and here in Australia – six weeks of campaigning, and then off to the polls, and it’s all over and done).

  188. Add me to the list of people whose lives don’t fit in the neat box of where productivity isn’t a meaningful measure. But yes, I am living in a constant adrenaline bath. I am a stay at home mom with a chronic condition, and reading stuff off twitter is one of my primary distractions to fight both loneliness and pain. Now I have a pretty much textbook addictive relationship with twitter and the election. I’m constantly dreading what the next horror story is going to be, or seeking that hit of glee when something unspeakably awful but damaging to T’s campaign hits the news. Then I go around reading my five favorite people on twitter (cough *scalzi* cough) and then reading 5 people they’ve retweeted and checking them again, and then back to 538 and trying to remember the name of someone who’s feed I read 3 weeks ago. I’m seeking some reassurance that other people find this stuff as bat shit crazy as I do, and also needing distraction from my anxiety. Even in the middle of doing it, some part of my brain is going “STOP YOU ASSHOLE SHOP” but I find nothing else holds my attention for long.

  189. Foreigner here (well, Canadian, so ‘still not-conquered neighbour’ anyway). I watch your elections with anxiety almost every time. We have to live with your choices, much more so than you do with ours. (W? Twice? WTF?)

    Yes, this election has been particularly stressful. My current job has me in Malaysia, 12 hours ahead of NYC, so I wake up to whatever disqualifying thing that Trump has done this day, and how it somehow doesn’t disqualify him.

    No, not getting much work done. Nov 9 (12 hour difference) can’t come soon enough!

  190. Not just you. It got bad enough anxiety wise that I had to get off Facebook altogether to have somewhat normal productivity because I kept replying to people who aren’t going to be persuaded.

  191. You’re not alone. I’m sure I haven’t been as productive at work this election season. Coincidentally, I’ll be unemployed by election day. My employer of the past five years no longer needs my services.

    Or retired. I’m 51 years old and I don’t think I want to work any more.

    On another note, I just watched half of the first episode of the new season of The Walking Dead. I needed some Donald Trump news to calm me down so I can sleep. I think I’m done with that show now.

  192. I’m semi-retired, so the time I spend following the election comes out of leisure time rather than work time. But it’s definitely affecting my part-time work indirectly.

    I’m finishing up a gruntwork project for my former employer that I didn’t want any of my former co-workers to get stuck with (my career is already dead, they still have a chance). When the work gets mind-numbing I have to expend non-trivial effort to focus on it. This is normal. But as the 2016 election sinks deeper into the abyss this focus is getting harder and harder to attain. I’ve spent a couple of weeks stymied by an intermittent integration issue that I should have nailed in a couple of days. Especially since it’s likely a side-effect of an easily identifiable change that I made. Reading about Trump must be making me stupider. (Maybe he’s some of of alien psy-op, softening our brains as a prelude to invasion.)

    What is really eating at me isn’t the current election though, but the next one. Or maybe 2024. If the recent downward trend continues, where on earth are we headed? I’ve thought we scraped bottom before but we keep finding new lows. How do you follow this act?

  193. Not a fiction writer — not even close — but yep, the election has been massively distracting for me. I’m going to be vague and say that I’m in a technical field and my work takes place largely on a computer. Haven’t blown any deadlines because of election news consumption (yet!), but it has been a struggle to stay productive some weeks and I’ve had to do a lot of speeding to get caught up.

    This is odd, because I’m not normally a news junkie type. Feel like I’m going to be left with some kind of hangover when this is over — compulsively checking the political news sites, with no idea why. I think I’m gonna need some kind of detox…

  194. Definitely not just you. I’m a photographer more than I am a writer (although hey, I’ve just started a teeny music journo project which is currently eating up all the time I’ll throw at it) and I’ve found that the whole of 2016 has been one massive distraction. The election, Brexit, the in-fighting in UK politics, the swathe of celebrities shuffling off this mortal coil… When I should have been sat doing some solid pre-production work I’ve instead found myself bouncing up and down on the refresh key on some livestream of whatever disaster is currently unfolding.

    And the weird thing is that I feel like I’ve been super productive (for me at least) this year. But it’s all felt like a massive struggle.

  195. Yeah, I definitely feel this way. Trump induced anxiety is a thing. I’m a programmer, which requires similar concentration to writing (at least according to Charlie Stross: http://www.antipope.org/charlie/blog-static/2016/08/writer-interrupted.html). It’s been hard to concentrate, for sure. It’s been better as his campaign took a nose dive, and I suppose it’ll be back to business as usual on november 9th (or 10th, as I’ll have a massive hangover on the 9th, from partying or drowning my sorrows, I don’t know yet).

    Social media plays a big part, and I’m not sure I can ever re-tune my feeds to make it better.

  196. I was off-work from mid-July to until a few days ago for shoulder surgery and the recovery therefrom. I thought I’d be able to use the time to binge-watch some of the movies/tv I’m far behind on, read more from the To-Be-Read pile than usual, and work a lot more on my fiction writing.

    Nope. Ended up spending at least a couple of hours a day (frequently more) following political and news sites.

    Binge-watching? I only managed to work thru three and a half seasons of BREAKING BAD before going back to work. No JESSICA JONES or the other dozen or so series I have on my Netflix list.

    Reading? Managed about the same, about a half dozen books per month. But I get most of my short fiction via podcasts, and that went almost completely away. (Not necessarily the fault of the election campaigns. My day-job is very repetitive, so I listen to a lot of audiobooks and podcasts while there. Didn’t have those hours available to fill while I was home.)

    And fiction writing? I think I wrote maybe three thousand words in three months. (I’m not an every day writer, or a fast writer, but I usually manage about a thousand words a week.) Arghhh….

    I’ve felt some easement in the pressure to keep up with the election since sending in my early ballot last week. I’m hoping to get back into my usual routine soon. (Local writer’s workshop in two days; need to read and critique last month’s submissions, and write my own for this month’s. Which means I probably shouldn’t be spending the time to write this comment.)

  197. I’m always distracted by American Presidential elections, but much more so this time, even though I live in the UK.

    My reasons:
    1) The election affects the whole world (no annihilation without representation);
    2) It’s great drama, although this year it appears to be scripted from beyond the grave by JG Ballard and Hunter S Thompson;
    3) Family connections to the USA.

    I find having a blog helps. If I’ve publicly ranted a bit about the election, it’s easier to put it aside and focus on other things, such as my day job developing software.

  198. I wonder if this is quantifiable – if there’s a dip in output by US authors sometime in 2017 as a result of Trump-induced paralysis this year.

    (Also, I think this is my first comment here after a couple years of lurking. Hi!)

  199. I’m an American in the UK, and this year has just been horrific in terms of politics interfering with my ability to get things done. More than one meeting has devolved into debates about the EU Referendum (both before and after the actual event; I don’t think anyone really got anything done in my office the day after as we were all in shock at the result) and every time there’s a new statement from Trump my colleagues ask me about it. I end up spending too much time every day looking at the news and trying to figure out what’s real and what’s a case of an editor forgetting that The Onion is supposed to be satire.

  200. From NZ – not impacting my work productivity, but it has absorbed an inordinate amount of my time in the evenings that I would have spent reading fiction, binge-watching shows, or doing a Drunkard’s Walk through wikipedia and youtube links for music, docos, etc. It becomes an inevitable subject in pub conversations too – usually ending up with an Asterix-like ‘these Americans are crazy’ conclusion. Still, as someone above said, only three weeks until the 2020 election campaign gets under way.

    On the other hand, it has pushed my checking Facebook into “don’t give a toss” territory – I think I’ve logged in twice in a month, which was mainly to to check the ‘NZ In 2020’ (Worldcon) pages. I also get a giggle every time I see some photographer catch Trump gurning and am reminded of his uncanny resemblance to Rygel from Farscape (hmm… must rewatch selected episodes…).

    Given my-neighbour-across-the-water’s reaction to seaborne asylum seekers, I’ve also had mental pictures of the Aussie Navy escorting some cruise-liner full of wealthy-ish Americans seeking political asylum off to Nauru or Manus Island sometime in 2017/18. (Cruise ship not plane? Bigger luggage allowance).

  201. It’s pretty much everyone I know. My wife is obsessed with it, to the point where she is even driving me nuts, and I’ve been following politics since 1960 (I was 11, OK?). She is likely to have MSNBC on (yes, that tells you her point of view) at any time of the day or night.

    Good thing we’re retired.

  202. I’m in *England* and it’s affecting me! Not hugely – there are plenty of more local worries (Brexit, anyone?) – but a bit. And, reading this post and comments, I wonder if what is at play here is Maslov’s hierarchy of needs? When we feel fundamentally threatened, then we pull back from our higher faculties – and for many people this will include creative work – and concentrate on Survival! Survival! Survival!

  203. Well, I was so distracted last night by reading comments about being distracted that I was almost late for chorus rehearsal….I am disturbed by the amount of support Trump has, but I try not to dwell on it too long or obsess over the poll du jour. One person upthread mentioned using silliness as a coping mechanism, and I endorse that as well. Know what’s going on but keep a sense of humor, even if it has to be gallows humor. And keep reading Whatever!

  204. – Wake up, check fivethirtyeight for the latest percentages.
    – Get dressed.
    – Sit on the bed for 10 minutes checking the AP app to see if Trump said anything especially awful overnight. Multi-task by having Alexa/Echo play the latest Flash Briefing news. This makes me late for work.
    – Work, checking the AP, fivethirtyeight, NPR, etc. at least once an hour which takes about 15 minutes, so 25% of my work time shot.
    – Listen to NPR on the way home for election news, but since I’d already be listening to the radio anyway, no time lost. Yay!
    – Go home and promptly start checking NYTimes, AP, fivethirtyeight again (they really need to update those percentages more than every 2 hours…) while watching TV, making dinner, and playing No Mans Sky.
    – Get ready for bed while listening to the Flash Briefing from Alexa/Echo to see if I missed anything.
    – Check the feeds/apps/etc. one more time. This makes me late getting to sleep.
    – Sleep.

    So, no, I’m not obsessing. Who said I was obsessing?!? I wouldn’t DO THAT!

  205. I have friends who are various sorts of therapists and, OMG, has the election been disruptive to them and their patients. Trauma, anxiety, and depression galore!

  206. I’ll be the 200th (+) person to say yes. It hasn’t distracted me at work, but I find myself staying up late to watch election coverage and going in to work tired on s regular basis. I’m a teacher, by the way, also pursuing graduate studies part time, and I have a pretty full plate, but election news forces its way into my day. I’m also Canadian, but I’ve been very concerned about the outcome here.

  207. Yeah, me too. I got promoted in January, and unfortunately, that corresponded directly with a huge drop in my productivity because of the associated anxieties of this stupid election. I’m also a writer and content developer with two people working under me, and I can’t seem to drag myself away from sites like TPM and Balloon Juice (Hi Hillary Rettig!).

    Add my Republican boyfriend and some crazy relatives to the mix. I see a mix of Clinton and trump signs in my neighborhood, which scares the crap out of me, but in my area outside of Akron, the nicer neighborhoods are thick with stupid. Stir well, and spend literally HOURS petting a kitty (or three) and staring at the wall. Otherwise, there is little or no relief from the constant state of worry. Ugh. Ohio allows in-person early voting and I think I’ll go in this week – at least then I’ll know I did my part.

  208. Earlier when it became absolutely clear what the results of the election would be, I started considering the rest of the time before the election to be just a period during which we would have to live with the embarrassment of the world watching the orange one make his horrible noises. It’s like bringing a loud, rude, hyperactive, flatulent 6 year old to a fancy dress party, but at least the outcome is pretty well known.

    Then in recent days, I started to get worried about potential civil unrest after the election if the losing party decides to cause trouble about the outcome.

    Even when riding my bike, which is when I normally de-stress, I am thinking about the election. I see Trump signs in yards and think “That should read ‘Vote for hatred, bigotry, spite and anger in 2016!'”

    I’m trying not to even discover who among my co-workers might be voting for him, because I think it might be hard to think of them as actual real, thinking people if I find out. I can’t imagine how anyone at this point can vote for the (adjectives omitted here) man.

    Yeah, it’s been a bit stressful.

  209. Oh, yes. Not just writers. I’m a programmer & normally I decide pretty quick who I’m voting for and then don’t think much of it until a week before election when I suddenly remember that I live in CA now and we have a crazy big pile of referendums.

    This election I look at 538, check the news, look at 538, look at Quora…then finally start work.

  210. Thisity-this-this-the-this.

    Okay, some of the precipitous dive in my productivity this year has been around stresses at the day job, which have been, legion. And I know my co-workers are feeling that too, because: stresses at the day job: legion. But as much as that, and the tendency for all work to slow down when the subject comes up (as it does) there’s a low-lying fog of anxiety that makes everything seem to slow. Like moving through a landscape of political peanut butter. We will all swear not to look at anything political on the web, and then I hear “Oh, gawd” from a co-worker, and everyone clusters around saying “What now?” and half an hour goes by while we read whatever the latest Awful is.

    And our mantra is “please let it be November 9 and the world not ended.”

    I try to read stuff from both sides of the fence (this despite the fact that, as an NYC expatriate, I have had strong feelings about the Republican candidate, none of them positive, for years) but this year it’s almost impossible. I’m horrified by the invective on both sides. I find myself alternating between obsessively checking the stats and wanting to lie down under my desk. So, according to them, do my co-workers.

    Yeah. Productivity down.

  211. 100% true for me. While not behind on any deadlines (so far!), checking news far more often than there’s actually news to read and visiting FiveThirtyEight more often than they have polling updates has sucked away a lot of time and joy from life. Sunday I forced myself to not look at 538’s forecasts, at least, and…got a lot more done! So now I’m going to see if I have the willpower to extend that embargo to the whole weekend, and big chunks of weekdays as well.

  212. I work in a business that runs on individual contracts. We assess properties on their hazardous materials handling. The contracts are based on property sales and refinancing. We are really off in our usual business for the period, and I’m pretty sure it’s because no one wants to make a big outlay before the election. Unfortunately it leaves me more time in the FB vortex and political sites and I have a semi-permanent stomach ache.

  213. I have found my productivity significantly reduced. Like you I check fivethirtyeight and other political sites several times a day, which I wasn’t doing last year and likely won’t do after the election.

  214. Oh, yeah. I’m so far behind. But I plan to vote this week, so I hope that’ll help. It’s not just that it’s so clear to me who I need to vote for, nor how heinous the other candidate is; but concern over who these people are that can support the other candidate, and what’s going to happen after the election. Since the third debate I’ve stopped the obsessive news watching and internet reading and I’m feeling better.

  215. It’s a true media circus, with a clown in the center ring. I’ve already voted, so I’m done with it for this year. Yours is one of the few articles referring to the election that I’ve actually read after voting — I keep my TV turned off, don’t answer calls from phone numbers I don’t recognize, and spend my time re-reading Shirley Jackson. If I’m going to feel a sense of dread I’d prefer to have it be artistic dread.

  216. I have definitely been following this election far more than I’ve followed others. Weirdly, though, it’s made me somewhat more productive at work, because I’ve been listening to lots of podcasts.

    Most podcasts require too much attention to be able to work while I listen. So I usually listen to music, which doesn’t prevent getting distracted by the internet. But election coverage podcasts have been interesting enough to keep me from getting distracted by other things, while not being distracting enough themselves to prevent work getting done.

  217. In short, yes, I am distracted (odd word, I mean this is a really important THING we do every four years) by the election to a degree I have not been before. Work has been set aside and “polite” dinner table conversation has included politics, even with people i do not know all that well. Regardless of your choices, VOTE!

  218. I haven’t noticed an impact. Each day at my job is filled with hundreds (if not 1000+) minutes-long deadlines, so I don’t have an opportunity to be distracted.

    I don’t use social media, so for the most part any election talk I’m exposed to happens when I’m looking for it online. (But I do work with the public, and whoo boy, do Trump supporters love to explain their opinions to me. At length.)

    Also, not allowing upsetting national/world news to affect my mood is a skill that’s been absolutely vital for managing my depression. Been developing it for nearly a decade. I’m excersizing what control I have over the election, but ultimately whatever happens is going to happen whether or not I worry about it.

    Sympathies for everyone that’s been having a rough time, though!

  219. Two of my kids are trans; they and their friends are in a state of dread that impacts everything in their lives.

    I’m confident Trump will lose, but the scale of the ugliness his supporters display profoundly disturbs me. For over 50 years I’ve blithely said things like, “1/3 of America is insane and authoritarian in their politics and immune to fact or feeling,” but this all brings that truth right to me in a way I wish would just go away. And it will not; the gates of the asylum have been opened and these folks will be cutting eyeholes in their sheets for the rest of my life.

  220. I write a twice a week column for a small town newspaper, The Fairbury Journal-News. Twice a week, my deadline approaches and I haven’t written anything and I panic and end up banging out something about the election because that’s the only thing taking up space in my brain right now. I think I’m starting to annoy the managing editor, who would like to see a bit more variety in my columns.

  221. I … go back and forth. On the one time I’m being somewhat significantly less productive, and on the other hand that’s because I’ve been pulling six day work weeks almost eight hours per day, at my day job because it’s craft fair season. So that exhaustion plays into it as well, although it’s a much less long-term detrimental exhaustion.

    I think the other thing is that I was definitely having panic attacks, low-level panic eating at my brain, until I went to my doctor and he flat out said “yes, this is going to damage your health, I suggest you take steps to limit your news intake until the election’s over at least.” Somehow having it come from a medical professional helped. So there was that, and then there was Dragon*Con which definitely and always stimulates creativity even if I need to take a week or two to decompress and decompensate. So there’s been a … a back and forth, I don’t feel like the election is pushing on my creativity too much, other life stressors are, but that’s only because I had a medical professional prescribe me fewer stressors? And because of those two things there’s also probably a retreat into Pretendy Fun Time Things.

  222. Definite loss of productivity. Mostly ’cause my Twitter feed is extra full of interesting stuff. Of course, I’d expect the same thing if an extinction level event were in the offing. Say a huge asteroid were headed our way but we didn’t know if it would hit or just graze the atmosphere, we’d all be a bit distracted by that and productivity would fall.

  223. In my secret identity as a librarian, this election hasn’t been distracting at all. But when it comes to creative pursuits…my summer depression was particularly bad this year and I did very little writing. Autumn is usually the time of year when my energy and creativity come back with a vengeance, but not only do I constantly get distracted by reading political news online, this election has been terrible for my general state of mind and, like you said, I get so worked up, I can’t focus on anything fun and productive. I’ll sit down at my laptop, open a document, stupidly check Twitter and/or Facebook, and suddenly I’ve fallen down the rabbit hole of reading articles (that confirm what I already know about the two candidates), gotten into arguments online, and gotten myself so emotional in all the worst ways, I can’t put two words together for my own writing.

    It’s kind of a relief to know that professionals are having the same problem.

  224. I’m an academic psychiatrist/neuroscientist. Papers are late, reviews are late, grant deadlines loom like like nightmare shapes instead of mere annoyances. I check the NYT, TPM, WaPo, politico, Facebook, Scalzi (no, really), fivethirtyeight first thing in the morning and frequently throughout the day. My texts, emails and messages are filled with communications with similarly obsessed friends and colleagues.

    The idea of a Trump presidency (unlikely at this point) and the entire Trump phenomenon is profoundly disturbing. I have friends who are voting Trump! People I thought I knew. On the plus (I guess) side, Trump’s sexual predation has seeded many heartfelt (if sometimes uncomfortable) discussions with men and women about life experiences and consequences of behavior.

  225. I live in the UK, so apart from reading your blog (which isn’t election news exactly), I waste 2 or 3 minutes a day thinking:
    ‘Why, republican party, why Donald Trump?’ The party that gave the world Ronald Reagan is now offering us Donald Trump! It was bad enough when McCain was beaten by Bush jr in 2000, you’ve now picked the obnoxious sociopath that is Trump? Can you not see that he’s only in it for the publicity for the Trump Brand and to get immunity from his Tax Audit?
    Republican party, I am dissappointed in you, I hope you don’t get a majority in the house or the senate (stand in the corner facing the wall for 8 years until you’re ready to come back as a sensible politcal party with a candidate for the Nation, not just the vocal minority with room temperature IQ (in celcius)).’

    So no it doesn’t take anywhere near as much of my time as it does yours, but then you will be much more affected than me. I’ll still be affected a bit as the whole world will be affected due to the size/power of the USA, but I hope that most of the people from the USA that I met when I lived there, will look at Trump and actually go out and vote against him.

    I was way more concerned with the Brexit vote as that one will stuff the UK for a generation to come:-(

  226. I tuned it out early on, as I felt my anxiety rise each morning when I put on NPR and heard election coverage. My husband, who usually enjoys politics, has been very upset by it, following polls day by day and thinking seriously about where we would go if the worst was to happen. We’re Jewish so this is not a parlor game and I’ve certainly seen more antisemitism in the past six months than ever. We have a police detail at our synagogue now. I can’t imagine what daily life is like for people of color now that hate has been handed a megaphone. It feels like we’ve been living under a dark, filthy cloud for the past year.

  227. I’m retired so productivity has a different meaning for me, but most definitely yes, I was really affected. But all the things I normally do suffered especially when the polling aggregates got close and I didn’t really relax until after the third debate. I can’t even quantify the hours and number of times I checked 538 and Princeton Election Commission — who by the way is hands down the best technical site for polling aggregation.

  228. This election is a slow-moving and fundamentally catastrophic event. We have been swept under by the sheer power of a tsunami of hatred, stupidity and every other kind of ugliness. It is an ongoing dark wave of destruction that has profoundly disoriented everyone I know.

    The look in the people’s eyes and the tone of their voices is at best plaintive, strained, and slightly lost. Because we no longer live where we thought we lived, in a nation of people we thought we knew. (And it was hard enough to bear before this, knowing how much better it could and should be.)
    But the subconscious of all nations now and again rises to the surface— where everyone is forced to see what has been hidden. Here we are.

    Leonard Cohen has a new song expressing the profundity of this moment in history very well, I thought: “You Want It Darker.”

  229. I live on the other side of the planet…and this election has been terrifying and distracting. Primarily because one candidate is a hateful, bigotted monstrosity who represents everything the Enlightenment exists to combat…and yet he has a dedicated following. His opponent is not perfect – what politician is? – but she is at least representative of 21st Century 1st World politics. But somehow, her opponent’s slavish minions are able to make massive drama out of her misdemeanours while totally ignoring his wholesale abuses.
    My country is currently is some turmoil over an appalling human rights record…and we’re scared of what the Orange One represents.

  230. This election has dominated my life for the past few months. I’ve obsessed over the polls every day at all hours of the day and I feel like it’s damaging my health. I’ve become obsessed to the point where I feel like if I try not to pay attention to the election some horrible scandal will happen that will cause Trump to win. Even now that most analysts are saying Trump is done for I’m still worrying every day, especially with Nate Silver talking about the possibility of a massive polling error. I just want to be free of this fucking shit. Fuck Donald Trump and fuck his dipshit supporters.

  231. Like Penn Naym says, it is damaging my health. I have had insomnia for months, I haven’t been getting anything done, and I’m grumpy and sad a lot, plus distracted. I can’t wait for it to be over.

  232. It’s a months-long train wreck. The train is carrying dumpsters, most of which are on fire, but some haven’t caught fire yet. And Twitter slices it up into little bits every few minutes, each with a bit of adrenaline and dopamine attached (because hey, your friends or other people are commenting on the latest flaming dumpster to go by.) No, it has not helped my productivity, not one little bit.

  233. Oh, but for distraction I can read the UK press, where Brexit’s another train wreck, but at least one that won’t hit me directly, and maybe we’ll get an independent Scotland out of the deal. I’m an engineer, so when I write science fiction it’s about “we’ll need three months to test the firewall, once we get funding for the lab equipment”, but we haven’t gotten the funding all bloody year, so it’s not like work has been doing a good job of motivating me either.

  234. I realized rather suddenly last week that I was depressed. Not clinically so, but enough that it’s having a notable impact on my personal and professional life. This isn’t the first time this happens, which is why I was able to recognize the signs. I’m dealing with it.

    It’s certainly not the only factor (these things don’t happen because of just one thing), but I will squarely lay a large part of the blame on the election and the coverage that That Clown has received. I say “That Clown” because months ago I realized how worked up the mention of his name and latest shenanigans made me, and installed a browser extension that did a text substitution. It helped, but apparently not enough.

  235. For the past two months I’ve been on a project where I don’t have Internet access from my desk and phone use other than as an audio player is discouraged. It has been wonderful. I’ve been catching up on Judge John Hodgman and other only-intermittently-political podcasts and I’ve rediscovered radio. (I do wish that young man who keeps singing to a girl about how he could treat her better than her current man does would give some specifics on how the current man is failing, or pledge something physically possible, but that’s neither here nor there.) But I’m not sure how long this project will last, so this time next week I could be compulsively refreshing FiveThirtyEight and looping the Les Miserables soundtrack on YouTube while procrastinating on the side projects I’ve promised myself I would get to once this project ends.

  236. No? Sort of? In two ways:

    1. My job is very structured, customer-facing, and for necessary reasons of security, pretty walled-off from the internet. My time on the clock is much the same as it always has been, with the addition of a new stock phrase: “It’s just not worth it to talk politics where you work, is it?” coupled with a wry smile.

    2. As a kidless adult in a stable relationship, my free time has always been taken up by media. And this free time, now, is actually more productive than it was this time last year. The election, the violence, the racism, the sexism, the homophobia, the transphobia, and the just jaw-dropping public examples of totally insane and unreasoned hatred have actually made me more productive, at least in my life of the mind. I’ve trimmed the mind-numbing tv fat. I’ve stopped reading websites that don’t either inform or uplift me. I’m cutting my fiction intake with non-fiction. And across all types of media, I’m trying to ingest things created by people with different experiences than my own. And though it’s a little late for this election, I’ve been reaching out to party and policy organization that I believe in to find out where I can help.

    So while I have the occasional sleepless night or obsessive evening with my laptop, mostly I am using the insanity in the world to better figure out who I want to be in the midst of it. It’s self-centered, but it’s either that or the fetal position.

  237. PhD student and blogger here: I had a double-whammy. Between the elections and the Jewish holidays eating up half of October– it was a bad scene. I had to set a really strict work schedule in order to get anything done at all.

  238. Short answer, yes, I am distracted by the election coverage.
    Long answer (skip to the next comment if you want to save yourself):
    My friend of 42 years who was also my exhusband died of cancer at the end of August. He was a political junky starting as a young teen recovering from a surgery during Watergate. I helped with his caregiving for the last few years of his life. (He lived with the lung cancer for 6 years ending up with brain cancer about 2 years ago.)
    He eventually became blind and needed a lot of care. I would read his mail, do the bills and keep him company discussing the election.
    As part of mourning his death I have developed a somewhat unhealthy obsession with election news. Checking 538 too often and reading the election posts on metafilter. I have stayed up until 3 AM several times in the last month attempting to ‘finish’ a metafilter election thread.
    So, to help with my anxiety I have taken a situation that felt completely out of my control and I am phone banking for Hillary. A few people posted about it on Metafilter.
    Maybe we can turn Ohio blue. Then I won’t feel so blue.

  239. I’ve definitely felt stressed/distracted by this. And saddened and betrayed by the fact I know people who are voting for Trump. Even though he would take away my rights on several different levels. So yes, it has gotten to me.

  240. Not just you. Or writers in general. This IT geek has been all kinds of distracted and depressed by the rise of The Donald and the “alt right.”

  241. Um, No. I’m a politics and world affairs junkie, but I don’t really get involved in partisanship. In fact I spend most of my time trying to cut through the partisan bullshit, which isn’t as difficult if you are paying attention all the time and not just every four years.

    I vote for what I think are the best interests of my family and what I see as the best interests of the country. As for what everyone else does, I figure people will get the government they want and I’ll just have to deal with the consequences as best I can.

    But I certainly don’t stress about it. My motto is “Something will happen.”

  242. I suspect it would have killed more productivity for me if October wasn’t already chock full of Jewish holidays. That alone kills a lot of productivity. I decided to take October off from creative endeavors because of that, but it’s hard to tell how much of my exhaustion is election-induced and how much is regular holiday burnout.

  243. I had rid myself of headaches after more than 40 years of daily pain by severely decreasing my stress. (I make a lot less money this way, but it’s worth it.) My headaches have returned during this election, both from the stress I’m suffering from it all by itself, and also from the additional stress caused by the fact that I’m so distracted I’m not getting paying work done. I can’t wait for this to be over — and I sure hope I don’t have to move to Canada.

  244. I’ve turned in 13 novels in a row early. This year, for the first time ever, I asked for and received an extension on a book that was due Nov 1. I’m pretty sure I could have hit the mark if I’d absolutely had to, but it would have involved moving into a cave and shutting down my internet. Fortunately for me, it’s the second in a duology, and book one had already been moved back for other reasons, so killing myself to get it done on the original timeline didn’t make sense. I’m figuring that this election has cost me something between 30,000 and 50,000 words of novel production.

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