The “I Don’t Care” Gate

In audio mixing, there’s a thing called a noise gate.

It works like a gate on a castle: it keeps unwanted things out. 

With a simple noise gate, everything below the threshold is muted. If a sound is loud enough, the gate opens and lets it in. 

For instance, guitarists might not want the sound of their amp hissing & buzzing, or their hands making extra noises on the strings. It can sound messy. So they add a gate: when they play, it opens. When they stop playing, it closes again. Clean!

It’s a blunt way of reducing noise. 

We have gates applied to our senses. If we didn’t, we’d see and hear everything around us. It would be too much information for our brains to process.

When we pay attention to something, the gate opens. 

When we stop paying attention to it, the gate closes. 

Our attention is limited and we need to conserve it.

But we pay attention to (and care about) too many things. Or the wrong things.

Gossip, the news, social media: these are unimportant noises for me. I mute them. 

Jim Rohn said, “Every day, stand guard at the door of your mind.”

There’s an opportunity cost. Every minute we spend on the unimportant is a minute we can’t spend on the important. (Those minutes add up. The average person spends 4 hours a day scrolling on their phone. That’s 28 hours a week. More than a part-time job.) 

Every additional thing you let through the gate reduces your effectiveness. If you’re not careful, instead of doing one thing well, you’ll do ten things poorly. 

Here’s the key: take control. Don’t let someone else decide what those things are.

Mark Borchardt says, “By saying NO to nonsense, you say YES to what matters.”

Ask yourself: what’s most important? What gets me the biggest results?

Do that and quit the rest. Say NO by default. Even to lesser things you want to do.

Crank up that personal “I Don’t Care” Gate. 

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