Signals and Noise (Part 3)

How do we stay focused?

We live in a distracting world. Email, cable news, Facebook, Twitter—they all cry out for attention. And it doesn’t help that our phones and tablets and computers beep and chirp and vibrate flash at us with every new input. Since companies like Google and Facebook make their living off of ads, they find ever more innovative ways to get ever more relevant advertising right in front of us, right where we can’t ignore it.

But investing is a long-term process. The magic of compound interest doesn’t work overnight. It takes years—decades, really—of patient saving and investing for the average investor to build something significant. We need to concentrate on long-term returns even when short-term demands are literally in our faces.

One approach is to build a distraction-free space in your life. One investor has a “library” where he retreats to read, write, and think. No electronic devices are allowed. Other people use headphones with light music or white noise to block out interruptions. Some even downgrade their computers in order to unplug. Whatever the specifics, you can improve your signal-to-noise ratio by reducing the noise.

Blaise Pascal said that all our miseries derive from not being able to sit in a quiet room alone. Cutting out clutter is a good way to concentrate on what’s important.

Douglas R. Tengdin, CFA

Chief Investment Officer

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *