Money Psychology

How To Sample Wisely From the Noise Buffet

And then!  Oh, the noise! Oh, the noise!  Oh the noise! Noise! Noise! Noise!  That’s one thing he hated!  The NOISE!  NOISE!  NOISE!  NOISE!

~ Dr. Seuss, from How the Grinch Stole Christmas

How the Grinch Stole Christmas is one of my favourite holiday classics – both the book and the animated version. I know. Christmas is over. Still, I thought about the quote above because the New Year seems to bring with it even more noise than the day to day hum of advice, analysis and marketing that surround us throughout the year.

Every form of media from T.V. to print to, yes, the blogosphere is buzzing with predictions, recommendations, and information for us to use in 2010. Balance Junkie has been no different, although I hope you find the information useful.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t listen to anyone. In fact, I recommend you take in as much information as you can that is relevant and useful to you. Education is one way to effect positive changes. Still, just as when we are confronted by unlimited food at an all you can eat buffet, we need to consume information wisely as well. Here are a few noise consumption guidelines I’ve recently implemented for myself as a recovering financial news addict:

1. Limit Consumption

I try to limit my information consumption to smaller, digestible blocks of time. If I find myself aimlessly surfing the net with red eyes and a sore back, it’s time to get up and go. My rule of thumb is that I need to cut back if my reading or T.V. news consumption interferes with more important things like family time.

2. Filter Consumption

I only have so much time. It doesn’t make sense to waste any of it on information that is not relevant to me. Having said that, I’m still a work in progress in this department!

3. Sample From a Good Information Buffet

Find a T.V. program that recaps the day’s main stories, read a couple of “round-up” posts from some good blogs, or find a magazine issue that contains a lot of good information in one spot. Most blogs will have weekly or monthly posts that put together a selection of good articles for you. Many magazines will publish issues that gather lots of great tips (like “the 50 best investments” or “25 all time best tips for X”). Let these folks aggregate the news for you so that you don’t spend hours sifting through it. (If you don’t use a newsreader for RSS feeds yet, I highly recommend it as it allows you to go through a huge number of article titles at once and pick the ones that appeal to you. It also saves you from the messy email box you get when you subscribe to more than a few blogs or newsletters via email.)

4. Go For Quality

Try not to get caught up reading about the latest celebrity train wreck. If you find it entertaining, that’s fine.  Just don’t spend too much of your valuable energy on it. For myself, I consider these articles “empty calories”. I try to avoid them, but sometimes the headlines are just too tasty.

5. Prioritize Consumption

Make sure you eat your fruits and veggies before you tackle that cheesecake. Likewise, if you are deep in debt and struggling to live from pay cheque to pay cheque, do you really need to know what the preferred investment strategies for the next quarter will be? It just makes sense to avoid wasting time on topics that should not be relevant to you. Make sure you have the basics covered first.

A healthy lifestyle includes a diet with a balance of foods from all the food groups, and everything in moderation. A healthy information diet is no different. We need balance and moderation for both.

How about you?  Are you finding the noise hard to deal with these days?

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