2 min read

Signal vs. Noise

We consume a lot of information in a single day.

And the data amount is growing.

It's been estimated that we consume 74GB of data per daywhich is a lot.

So the key question with the increasing volume and intensity of information we process email, news, video, Instagram, Tiktok etc. is how can we make sure what we consume is useful?

How to Use Information (Effectively)

First things first: we must start with a goal.

Your goal can be in the form of your job, company, startup, fitness objective, relationship or anything else.

Noise stems from consuming information unintentionally i.e. with no specific goal or purpose.

So by setting a goal of what we want to achieve, we can subjectively relate this back to our goal and consider if what we consume is:

  1. Moving us closer towards our goal
  2. Moving us further away from our goal
  3. Irrelevant

We want to sit in bucket 1 as much as possible.

Sometimes we can differentiate between primary goals (what we want most) and secondary goals (what we generally want).

Whilst something may sit under goal #2 such as unwinding or relaxing by scrolling - this can still have a semi-purpose as it does all us some space from goal #1 even if it is not technically related to #1.

So given the above distinctions, we can simply use our gut to judge this.

We know that consuming workout routine YouTube videos and TikToks is not directly growing our muscles or improving our diet – but it does unlock keys to insights we can turn into action for us. Our gut says it's useful (so long as we proceed to action).

Our gut can also tell us that if we do want a 6 pack as above, we know that watching memes or browsing political headlines may fit into other goals, but will in no way help us improve our physique.

Pretty simple right?

So what's the core difference in information, regardless of the specific goal we have?

Separating Singal & Noise

In today's world separating signal and noise is the key to living a better and more effective life.

Put simply:

  • Signal: information snippets that align with your goal
  • Noise: random, unwanted data points

Noise interferes with signals, making signals harder to detect.

Let's take the example of scrolling through various workout routines or startup tips on Tiktok.

Let's say you watch 20 videos.

Each video suggests 5-7 exercise.

Your brain now has 100 exercise to process. Let's say 70% are repeats of the core ones: deadlifts, benchpress, lunges etc. and 30% are new.

You now need to order the core excercies and make a judgement call on the other 30% which you need to actively accept, reject or postpone.

You've just processed 1000s of variants of options, exercise and routines.

And you haven't picked up a weight yet.

By differentiating between signals and noise you can learn to escape the information trap and take action on your goals.

So what do we do?

  1. Set a goal
  2. Find signals: key snippets of information related to our goal
  3. Take action

What we have to do (actively is easy). Not changing right?

One of our key takeaways is not so much as what you focus on what what you actively choose not focus on: Reduce the Noise.

You most likely know exactly what you should do. And it most cases it's the noise thats detracting from achieve your goal, not searching for more signals.

So filters that feed. Unfollow the noise. And consume information with an intention behind it.

If you do this, you'll be ahead of 99% of people who blindly consume.

So I wish you luck.