Tag Archives: concentration

The Signal and the Noise (Part 3)

How can we stay focused?

Public Domain. Source: Wikipedia

We live in a distracting world. Email, Facebook, Twitter—they all cry out for attention. And it doesn’t help that our phones and tablets and computers beep and vibrate and flash at us with every new stimulus. Since companies like Google and Facebook make their living off advertising, they find ever more innovative ways to get ever more relevant advertising right in front of our noses, 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 issues even while short-term demands are literally in our faces.

One approach is to build a distraction-free space in our lives. 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. We don’t have to get fancy: sometimes just going for a walk – with the phone turned off – is all we need. Whatever the approach, we can improve our 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 learn how to concentrate.

Douglas R. Tengdin, CFA