remove the noise

Tips for Removing Distractions and Becoming Successful

Erik Personal Development and Lifestyle, Personal Growth, Self Improvement, Thoughts of a Mastermind 6 Comments

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Are you achieving your goals and dreams, or are you distracted by things which aren’t important to you?

There is so many distractions and noise in the world right now: Facebook, the media and news, Twitter, YouTube, friends, family, To-Do’s, work, etc.

Some of this is important, but a lot of it is not important.

Are you doing anything you dislike doing? How could you replace it with something which brings you happiness? Are there unnecessary distractions you need to remove to achieve you goals and dreams?

In this post, I’ll be sharing with you how you can remove distractions from your life to spend more time doing what you love to do.

What is Noise?

In my 9 to 5 job, I spend quite a bit of time looking at graphs like the following:

noise and trendThe red line is the raw data and the black line is a trend of sorts (probably some kind of moving average)

The goal in much of my 9 to 5 work is to tease out trends from noisy data, i.e. data with lots of peaks and valleys.

Trying to explain all of the peaks and valleys is very difficult, and also completely unreasonable due to the random nature of what I’m trying to model.

I tend to get questions like: why are there 100 events in Quarter 1, 125 events in Quarter 2, and only 75 defaulted companies in Quarter 3? Why the big dip, did anything change in 1 quarter?

My answer is usually, “it’s mostly noise.”

What is noise?

Noise is unwanted sound.

Noise is unwanted content – a disruption in your daily life.

Anything you cannot control, influence or affect is noise.

Why is noise bad?

Noise distracts us from our best work.

Noise holds us back from true happiness.

I’m looking for overall life mastery – I want to grow my wealth and spend time on things which will bring me happiness.

What doesn’t make me happy?

  • Watching the 9 PM news and hearing who shot who, who stole what, and what company did something wrong.
  • Hearing about how this random person on the internet did something random and it was “funny”.
  • Reading about why the stock market is going up (or down) and what the outlook is (no one can predict the future – 99%+ of stock “gurus” are not worth listening to)

With all this noise, how can we succeed?

The Black Swan

Beware the Noise

In one of my favorite books of all time, The Black Swan, Nassim Taleb discusses how he tries to avoid noise in most areas of his life.

He doesn’t read the paper or follow the news. It’s useless information for his happiness and well being.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t watch the news (even though I don’t and it’s helped my well being), I bring this up because of his examples and thoughts on noise.

Taleb, a mathematician and Wall Street trader turned philosopher, reasons in his book that randomness is inherent in all things and we should be aware of this.

Take, for example, the stock market.

There are some days where the market opens and stocks are down 1%. Yahoo Finance’s headline reads “Stocks down on Foreign Export Fears”.

3 hours later, stocks are up 1%. Yahoo Finance’s headline reads “Stocks up on Enthusiastic Investors’ Foreign Hopes”.

What?? (Taleb talks about this in his book… and if you’ve ever visited Yahoo Finance, you’ve probably seen what I’m talking about.)

How can we be so certain about a group of “investors” and how they are affecting the general trend of the stock market over a 3 hour or less period? It’s bizarre, but that’s what people want. People want explanations of things.

What’s Your Purpose?

With all that is going on in your life, take a step back.

Why do you do the things you do? What makes you happiest? What are your passions? Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Something I’ve worked on in the past few years has been pursuing happiness and meaning in life.

Can I maximize the hours in life where I’m happy? How can I structure my time or daily routines to not be stressed out and allow myself to achieve my goals?

What I’ve learned is through by pursuing happiness, meaning, and purpose, I’ve found what’s important to me.

For some people, it’s connecting with others and being social. For others, like myself, it’s about building and creating things that weren’t there before.

What’s your goal in life? What’s your purpose? What is important to you?

I love asking these questions because starting with why is something that is most important.

He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.” —Friedrich Nietzsche.

Once you’ve answered this question, you can move on to finding your trend within the noise of the world.

Align Your Actions with Your Purpose

My purpose in life is to build up solid foundation financially for my future family, to learn and grow as an individual. I’m looking to give back to my friends and family with my knowledge and time.

If there are any actions or events that fall outside of this purpose statement, then maybe I should think twice about these actions or events because they are noise.

I mentioned this earlier, but after reading The Black Swan and applying some of Taleb’s ideas, I definitely have became more practical and smarter in my work and at home.

By removing a lot of the noise in my life, I can focus on what’s important to me.

Remove noise in your life and I guarantee you will find more success.

How You Can Eliminate Noise to Declutter Your Mind

Decluttering your mind is possible with a strategy. A clean environment and outside will lead to a clean inside.

With a decluttered mind, you can more easily align your actions with your purpose.

There are a number of ways which I’ve tried and found successful in eliminating noise:

  • Unsubscribing from Emails
  • Turning off the News
  • Comparing Yourself to Others
  • Reading Books instead of Articles
  • Searching for the Truth instead of a Quick Fix
  • Setting Aside Time for Social Media

Through these ways, I’ve eliminated the noise, freed up brain power, and supercharged my productivity, happiness, and energy to get more done, have better conversations, and maximize the number of hours I’m enjoying life.

By focusing on what I CAN control, and not focusing on what I CAN’T control, I’ve been much happier and productive.

Unsubscribe from Emails to Eliminate Noise

When I started blogging, I wanted to be in the know with many of the other bloggers out there. I went on a hunt to find many different personal finance and self-improvement blogs to read, comment, and subscribe to for further engagement.

Each day, I would get 10-15 emails from different bloggers notifying me of another post.

Over time, I stopped opening 5 of those.

Then the next 5.

And finally, I started deleting the majority of those instantly.

It was time for a purge.

I’m sure you have something similar with sites you sign up with for coupon codes or notifications.

These emails are just noise if you don’t care about them – and they distract you from your daily life.

I encourage my email subscribers to unsubscribe if they don’t want to hear from me.

Go ahead, click unsubscribe on a bunch of your own emails to eliminate noise from your life.

Turning off the News to Eliminate Noise

Back in 2015, I was in a job that was slow most days.

I’d be on my work computer and constantly bring up Yahoo Finance, CNN, Fox News, CNBC, and a number of other news outlet websites.

I wanted to try to stay up to date with what was going on in the world.

The amount of negativity brought me down, and sucked the energy from my body and brain to do amazing work I was capable of.

Who shot who, what happened to this random famous person, why is the sky blue over in New York City – all of this had 0 impact on my life.

All of this had 0 impact on my life, and yet, I was letting it impact my psyche.

I dumped cable, and stopped going to those website.

One of the best things you can do starting today is dumping the news from your daily routine.

Stop Comparing Yourself to Others

“Comparison is the thief of joy.” — Theodore Roosevelt

Humans naturally compare themselves to other people all day long – it’s something I do, and I bet you do it too.

I look at my peers and compare what I’ve achieved and what they are doing in their life.

Here’s a secret: it’s all a waste of time.

Going on Facebook and seeing your friends post pictures of their recent family vacation, or scrolling through Instagram and seeing the latest clothing trend are both examples where you see the best side of someone else – and naturally compare and feel sad.

I wish I could be in Hawaii. I wish I could wear that awesome clothing.

Could you control either of those things? Possibly, but that would be a distraction from your purpose and focus.

Reading and listening to others talk about success and their accomplishments can be beneficial for inspiration, motivation and learning.

However, at the end of the day, it’s just noise because you CANNOT control what others put out on the internet.

All you can focus on is what you are doing in your life.

Reading Books is Better than Reading Articles

Many news websites and blogs pump out many articles every single day, some 100s of articles a day.

If you are a writer and journalist, you are paid to come up with an interesting story and piece to satisfy your viewers and drive traffic.

Many articles are clickbait, poorly written, or don’t portray the full story.

Reading every article on the Huffington Post or USA Today is not going to make you smarter – and actually, it will probably frustrate you.

Instead, books can be much more beneficial to get the core content and improve your clarity and understanding on a topic.

Books can take years to research, write, and publish, and because of this, they are more likely to be well written and contain accurate information (of course, some books won’t satisfy this, but nothing is a guarantee).

Reading books, instead of articles, can help you cut down on the noise in your life. In addition, this will help improve your understanding much more on a topic than reading something on some news website.

Set Aside Time for Social Media

One of the biggest time sucks in the world today is social media.

Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest capture our attention for many hours each and every day.

My cousin’s aunt’s dad’s friend caught a really nice fish this weekend, awesome!

Do I care?

No – it’s just noise distracting you from success!

I’m being a little bit harsh here, but it’s true.

Unless that guy who caught the fish is a good friend of yours, it’s kind of pointless to let them occupy your mental space….

Similarly, I see on Twitter a lot some influencer making a profound point and many people getting all worked up about it.

Should you let this raise your blood pressure? Probably not!

Remove noise from your life, and be at peace.

Focus on What’s Important to You

Incorporating these tips above will help you remove noise and distractions from your life.

Keeping the noise to a minimum is so critical for success.

Have you ever deleted the Facebook app off of your phone to stop wasting time, but then a week later, re-installed the app and fell back into the same social media routine?

Did you ever set a limit on yourself for TV or phone time, but then stopped abiding by this limit?

After removing noise, it’s important to keep that noise away.

Filling that time and mental gap is critical for sustained success.

How can you ensure you are going to fill your new found time wisely?

New habits take 21 days to form, but I know you can do it.

While it might be difficult, I know you can achieve anything you put your mind to. 🙂

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Comments 6

  1. I have been slowly removing the news from my life. I got way too caught up with the election last year. I’m down to about 10 minutes a day out of habit and fear. I plan to completely stop watching the news and just hear about things from others.

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      Author

      I’ve noticed that it’s improved my ability to focus, but also just stay more positive. By blocking out negatively, you are able to get a lot down.

      I’d be interested to hearing more about your thoughts in the coming years

  2. I certainly do my share of noise filtering. Saying “no” to offers, invites, etc is the best way I’ve found over the years. I try to avoid cluttering my free time. Agreed that in the digital world social media, surfing, smartphone use, etc is a fine line we have to learn to navigate properly or we can be sucked into the click bait rabbit hole pretty easily. Good luck!

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      Author
  3. I’ve noticed my attention span shorten dramatically since smartphones have boomed in popularity. I think I’m going to start implementing a schedule and only get on my phone/social media at certain times in the day, so I can focus on my work and get stuff done! Great post!

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      Author

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