The stock market is a giant distraction to the business of investing. – John Bogle
That’s why Rick Ferri writes that “tracking the day-to-day movements of the stock market is nothing more than a distraction from investing.” That is why I have written a number of times why you should turn off financial television.
Not only is the stock market a giant distraction to the business of investing it is also a distraction from what is best called ‘deep work.’ The term deep worked was coined by Cal Newport in his great new-ish book Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World. In the book he makes the distinction between deep work and shallow work:
Deep work: Professional activities performed in a state of distraction-free concentration that push your cognitive capabilities to their limit. These efforts create new value, improve your skill, and are hard to replicate.
Shallow work: Noncognitvely demanding, logistical-style tasks, often performed while distracted. These efforts tend not to create much new value in the world and are easy to replicate.
We are all faced with shallow work. That is simply the nature of life. This shallow work is most at risk of being eliminated through algorithmic automation or outsourcing. Newport emphasizes that it is deep work that truly adds value. He says that deep work is “valuable, rare and meaningful.” Therefore finding a method to carve out time for deep work is crucial for anyone looking to create true value-add.
Newport is fan of eliminating distractions by eliminating social media from your life and selectively turning off the Internet when necessary. Both he notes are insidious in their ability to distract us by taking us down any number of wormholes. The same could easily be said for the stock market itself.
Until you turn off all these distractions, and as Newport writes, “embrace boredom” do you really how distracting all of these modern tools really are. As Newport said in this podcast with Newport and Jordan Harbinger of The Art of Charm.**
If you haven’t been practicing concentration, you don’t really know what true concentration really feels like,” says Cal. “The people who cultivate it, they’re not just a little bit more productive than everyone else; they’re massively more productive. These are the people who are stars in their fields.
Who doesn’t want to be a star in their field? Whether it be related to the markets or in an entirely unrelated field. Newport’s book has already prompted me to re-think how I spend my time. In addition it makes you acutely aware when you are going down one of those Internet blind alleys. If for no other reason you should put this book on your list and make sure you don’t get distracted and actually read it.
*Although it seems that retail traders are easily distracted from the stock market as well.
**The AOC podcast can either stand alone or in my case get me to check out the book in the first place.