Taking items off your investing to-do list

We are what we eat.

This is an oft-used phrase to describe the importance of being mindful of what we eat. The beginning of the year when people are making and struggling with their New Year’s resolutions it is worth thinking about what it is we consume.

We investors all consume news, information and commentary to varying degrees. The simple fact is that most of it is junk. In my book I quote Sturgeon’s Law as to the fac that “90% of everything is crap.” It is either junk in the sense that it is designed simply to get you to click through to generate a page view or it is irrelevant to your life in general or your investing life specifically.

It seems that some other bloggers are thinking along those same lines. Kid Dynamite has a post up talking about why it is he doesn’t follow you on Twitter. In short, he doesn’t have to energy to keep up with your tweeting. He writes:

All of this is my way of saying that there are many people on Twitter that I find humorous, insightful, or valuable from an investing and trading standpoint, but I can’t handle the pressure of trying to keep up with another few hundred tweets a day from heavy users.

Barry Ritholtz at the Big Picture has another take on the topic. In his post he talks about the many things he does NOT care about, and there many. His point being that using your time to focus on distracting but ultimately irrelevant topics that we do not have control over. He writes:

There are millions of things that I have no interest in. The list of items I specifically mentioned are what I believe have a negative value — they are worth less than zero — these are meaningless distractions that take my attention away from more important things…

If you want to find more time to focus on what you are supposed to be doing, then you must eliminate the junk. It could be worth about 1000 hours of found time per year to you.

Josh Brown at the Reformed Broker has a post up looking at silly game individual investors get caught up in trying to “beat the market.” This is a favorite topic of mine as I wrote a whole section in the book on “Why the S&P 500 is not your benchmark.” Josh notes that for most investors the pursuit of alpha will only bring grief, not peace of mind. He writes:

Don’t run around chasing stock-picking cats if you don’t need to. If you’re not running a fund benchmarked to an index, alpha generation should not be your priority – peace of mind should.

The pursuit of alpha or the unending quest to get on top of the news will in all likelihood only cause you grief and anxiety. There is a great deal of value for many in thinking about removing things from their to-do list as opposed to adding them. For most investors a simple strategy, easy followed, provides the best opportunity to reach your financial goals. And in the end that is all that matters to you.

Update: Just saw this and thought it apropos.

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