Last year, I noted in the Price of Paying Attention that listening to all of the noise out there hurts your investing returns. If you digest a lot separate sources, if you crave input, if you are entertained by current events, you run the risk of getting distracted by a huge amount of meaningless junk.
My own solution to navigate all of this noise involves 3 steps:
1) Focus on the data (not the commentary);
2) Keep refining your process;
3) Eliminate bad or biased sources with extreme prejudice
These have helped me steer clear of distracting, biased, unhelpful or misleading noise. I learned this weekend that there is an enormous amount of nonsense that simply falls off your radar when you work this way.
Consider this list of things I do not have even the slightest interest in:
• Who the next Treasury Secretary will be
• The Herbalife hedge fund battle
• 90% of Wall Street Research
• People who don’t believe in Evolution
• The Fiscal Cliff
• Dell Going Private
• Why Ben Bernake is going to cause hyper-inflation!
• 75% of what is on CNBC
• Any reality television
• Those QE and Gold cartoons from ExtraNormal
• Lance Armstrong’s doping
• What the European Central Bank will do next
• Nouriel Roubini’s parties
• Birthers, 9/11 Conspiracists, Global Warming Denialists
• Lindsay Lohan’s next movie/arrest/rehab visit
That’s just off the top of my head.
There are millions of things that I have no interest in. The list of items I specifically mentioned are what I believe have a negative value — they are worth less than zero — these are meaningless distractions that take my attention away from more important things.
I am not claiming to have found the holy grail, but I have learned what makes me more productive and efficient. Note that the vast majority of the things I don’t care about are coincidentally also items I have no control over.
If you want to find more time to focus on what you are supposed to be doing, then you must eliminate the junk. It could be worth about 1000 hours of found time per year to you.
Avoid the Noise (January 2013)
The Price of Paying Attention (November 2012)
Who Do You Trust? (January 2008)
Lose the News (June 2005)