Developers: David Colgan helps you escape 9-to-5 employment by building an effective freelance business you'll love to run.

The internet continues to get noisier and more negative all the time. Though being informed and up to date on the latest in the world is good, I'm now of the opinion that if you don't make an active effort to control your intake of information, you'll be ineffective in life. And the default is to be ineffective, so anyone who takes steps to control information intake puts themself at an advantage over everyone who doesn't.

Here are some things I do to reduce the worst noise from the internet so I can focus on the few sources I choose to take in information.

Things I do to reduce noise and crap

Shut up internet comments

A tip from Kai Davis, install the Shut Up! Chrome plugin to remove internet comments. For some reason I get sucked into reading comments and always feel worse after doing so. Anonymity plus a text box equals trash in many cases.

Shut Up!

Install the someonewhocares.org hosts file

Your computer has a file called the hosts file that contains a mapping from IP addresses to domain names. A neat hack is to set 127.0.0.1 (localhost) to the domain names of spam sites and ad networks. When a website requests one of these sites, the operating system first checks to see if that domain name is in the hosts file, and if so it'll just request localhost, which returns nothing.

Go to http://someonewhocares.org/hosts/ and paste the whole thing into your hosts file (instructions are included). Now you avoid 12,000 of the worst noise on the internet.

As a sidenote, this can also be a way to block time wasting sites for yourself temporarily. Stick 127.0.0.1 facebook.com into the file if you are spending too much time on Facebook.

Block keywords on Twitter and Facebook

Levels wrote a great post about why avoiding news can be a very good things for your psyche, especially if you can't really do anything about it. He created mute.life where you can copy and paste

Configure notifications on your phone

Someone recently found an article that says some absurdly high percentage of people don't change anything about the push notification settings on their phones. Please for the love of all that is good and holy turn down the noise on your phone. Push notifications are basically

The sources of information I actually consume

Twitter after heavy word blocking and a curated follower list

While anonymity seems to encourage bad behavior, real names seems to at least help. By carefully curating the people I follow and making good use of muting specific words, Twitter in general is a wholesome source of relevant and useful information.

Emailing specific people

It hit me one day that the people you follow online and respect are humans too, and you are actually allowed to email them and sometimes they respond! I've lately been leveling up my networking game and I've been surprised just how helpful people can be. (Feel free to email me by the way if you have any questions.)

Podcasts and individual peoples' websites

If there is a specific topic you are interested in learning more about, I've had great success lately listening to podcasts on the topic, and reading the articles written by the hosts of said podcasts. I've been attempting to level up my consulting practice, and reading a listening to Brennan Dunn, Patrick McKenzie, Kai Davis, and Nick Disabato


I first sent this article as a letter to my mailing list. New letters go out each week!

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