Signal Saturation

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By Zvi Boger, from

One of the philosophies I’ve adhered to over the past decade is dealing with things when saturated. Saturation has many meanings in the sciences, such as the point when water can no longer be absorbed into a material, but I adopted it from signal processing. It’s when the signal is so strong that increases beyond it can no longer be detected.

For example, if a YouTuber increases the volume of a video in a recording, it’s not going to go beyond the maximum output volume set for the person viewing the video. It will sound bad, but the signal will be saturated.

I’ve applied this when it comes to stress. People will feel overwhelmed and stressed over many things, including small things. When you pile them together, at some point you no longer feel an incremental increase in stress. However, there’s some interesting hysteresis that sometimes happens (hysteresis being that things don’t go down the same way they go up). When you’re saturated with stressful things and you remove one item, it often feels like you’ve removed half of the stressful items on your to-do.

So if you’re already working beyond the point of saturation, why not also finish that stressful thing on your to-do?

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