“Habits are like financial capital – forming one today is an investment that will automatically give out returns for years to come.”


– Shawn Achor

The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology that Fuel Success and Performance at Work

Time Management Hack: Signal to Noise Ratio

Inbox massive

We live in a noisy world.  The level of information that is constantly flowing into our lives is at times deafening and overwhelming.  Hidden within all of the spam, advertisements, emails, texts, facebook posts, tweets and photos is a tiny thread of signal that we are desperately trying to hear.

The Signal-to-noise ratio compares the level of a desired signal to the level of background noise.  This term is sometimes used to refer to the ratio of useful information to false or irrelevant data.  Our social world has made it easy to get information… I can google just about anything and find a ream of information on it.  But the more closely tied to a product or service that can generate money the data I am looking for is, the harder it is to pick out the signal from the noise.581516radio_frequency_smaller

Here are a few ways I have found that help me focus on the signal to stay more productive:

1) Go on a data diet.  Avoid social media, stock tickers and other non essential data when you are trying to be productive.  Don’t give in to the urge to constantly ‘check in’.

2) If you use Gmail or Google Apps – set your inbox so that the ‘important and unread’ messages stay at the top.  The junk and notifications are filtered out and you can delete them all at once at the end of the day rather than constantly having to filter through them.

3) Use a service like unroll.me.  This clever service searches your email for subscriptions and ‘rolls’ them all into one email or lets you unsubscribe with a single click.

4) Avoid using your email as a to-do list.  I forward to-do emails to Nozbe, which automatically creates a to-do list item for me and adds the body of the email and any attachments to the list.  This way I can work through a list of things I need to do without getting distracted by incoming emails.

These are just a few ideas.  The more you can filter out noise and get to the signal, the more effortlessly productive you can be.  What are some other ways you have filtered out the noise to help with time management?  Tell me here or on social media – I’d love to learn a trick or hack from you.