Categories
Life Progress Self-awareness

From Chaotic to Harmonized Mindset

Reading Time: 3 minutes

It’s 2020, and a lot of things happening now might seem very chaotic and confusing. Brexit inescapably happened. Man-caused global warming is changing landscapes. Oceans are flooded with plastic. The Covid19 pandemic brings risk to our lives and limits our mobility. Wildfires in Australia and the USA kill live beings. People are still experiencing discrimination and brutality because of skin color. Moreover, you might believe in some conspiracy theories that add to stress and anxiety about the current world situation. But do you want to stay under that stress, or would you instead want to have peace of mind?

First of all, what you can do is think about whether you can change any of that? Is it in your scope of control, or is it outside of your abilities? If you can’t control something, detach yourself from it. It is as it is. You have to adapt to it, but there is no necessity to keep worrying about it day after day.

If adversity happens to you directly and you are affected badly, you have to calm down and focus on what you can do to solve your situation. For example, if you lost a job due to Covid19, you have to find another one. Maybe even get some skills in another area than what you know already. Don’t panic. Clear your mind and surroundings at first.

If you have a chaotic mind, you probably also have a messy home. Start cleaning up your mind by cleaning up your home. Define places for each thing you want to keep. Get rid of or hide the things that bring you bad memories and emotions. It might take hours or days, but you will finally have a system for something you see every day.

Take a problem you want to solve and plan the way how you are going to solve it. Divide the path to the solution into multiple steps that you can take one by one. For example, you were in a restaurant business but decided to learn software development. So you will borrow some money, take online courses on some technologies, create a project for a friend, work on your LinkedIn profile, and apply for a junior position at a chosen IT company.

If you feel down, maybe you are lack of brain fuel. The human brain runs on glucose and needs at least 420 kcals per day to maintain normal function. That’s 42 grapes or cherries, 4 bananas, or 4 big apples a day. It can as well be more or less depending on your body mass and the mental work intensity.

To have a harmonious mind, make sure to spend time with people you care about. But also have some time alone. You need both: a feeling of connection and love; and time for meditation or prayer, journaling, and exercising.

When doing something, try not to multitask. Focus on one thing at a time. Multitasking brings you more stress and makes you less productive. If you have several or many things to do in a day, create time blocks for each of those things. For example, you will spend two hours reading and answering emails, one hour for the industry news, and one hour for an online meeting. Try to stick to your plan.

Simplify your life. It is recommendable to choose up to three most important tasks every day and only focus on them. Quality is more important than quantity. When you work a lot, you have a risk of mental burnout. That’s especially often in the tech industry.

Try to get information in your head classified. Either connect the points of knowledge in your head and group them into categories. Or read more about your interests and find some categorizations on Wikipedia or other resources. This gives you more trust in yourself and your opinions.

Get an essential objective in your life. It should be a big aim worth pursuing. Then make a plan for how you will achieve your dreams. And try to progress towards it. Know that failures will happen on the way. But focus on the process and enjoy the ride.


Cover photo by Hello I’m Nik.

Categories
Progress Self-awareness

The Magic of Math Behind “1st things 1st”

Reading Time: 3 minutes

I am an intuitive thinker! I don’t like overanalyzing or changing my mind too often. The first choice that I make usually gets the most power. I trust my gut feeling. But sometimes there are choices to make, which depend on too many variables. I used to be lost in such cases. Some options have some benefits; others have other advantages. How can I make the right choice when I have multiple decisions depending on several criteria? Nowadays, for long-term multidimensional decisions, I use the strategic prioritizer “1st things 1st”. I will describe its formula in this article.

How would you use the “1st things 1st”?

Strategic prioritizer “1st things 1st” lets you bring multidimensional priorities to light. It allows you to make intuitive decisions for each criterion and uses a formula (that I will describe in a moment) to calculate the priorities:

  1. At first, you define your criteria.
  2. Then you list out things to prioritize (for example, activities).
  3. Then you rate each thing by each criterion.
  4. At last, you explore your calculated priorities.
Workflow of prioritization: criteria, things, evaluations, priorities

Relative weights of criteria

Each criterion has a relative weight in percentage. By default, these weights are spread evenly. For example, if you have 4 criteria, each of them will have a weight of 25% – the sum of relative weights is always 100%.

Just recently, a possibility to adjust the relative weights was added to the prioritizer. If we look at the project about finding your Ikigai which was the first prioritization example in this blog, you can decide to give the criterion “Am I good at it?” a lower relative weight (10%) than “Do I love doing it?” (30%), “Can I be paid for it?” (30%), and “Does the world need it?” (30%). Because practice makes perfect, and the skills can be gained over time.

Adjusting weights for criteria

Evaluations

Whether you evaluate the things by each criterion with yes/no answers, probabilities, stars, or percentages, behind the scenes they are all saved as numbers between 0.0 and 1.0 and can be represented as percentages between 0% and 100%.

The formula

“1st things 1st” uses the weighted average formula to calculate the priorities.

To see how much a thing matches all of your criteria, you would sum all criterion weights multiplied by corresponding evaluations:

A = w1 × e1 + w2 × e2 + w3 × e3 + w4 × e4

No worries, you don’t need to calculate anything yourself. You just do the ratings, and all the computations are delegated to the computer – that’s what computers are for.

Here is an Excel template laying out the calculations: 

Prioritization spreadsheet template

Our example with Finding Ikigai would look like this:

Prioritization example in a spreadsheet: Ikigai

As you can see from the last column named “Match”, programming, writing, teaching, and driving a car would be among my top priorities. Even when I can’t drive. Yet.

Final words

When making decisions, sometimes you can trust your intuition and the first thought that comes to your mind. And sometimes, the decision has to be analyzed and calculated. Why not leave those calculations to the computer? “1st things 1st” does that for you.


Cover photo by Michael Dziedzic

Categories
Life Progress Self-awareness

The Cycle of Long-term Success

Reading Time: 2 minutes

In my younger days, I was obsessed with finding the formula for happiness and success. Why do some people achieve more than others? Why do some people suffer when others enjoy their lives? What is the secret of some people’s advantage against some others? What do successful people do differently from the poor ones?

At some point, I realized that happiness and success are two different things. Happiness is something that you feel yourself, whereas success is something how others perceive you. There are happy people without significant achievements as well as successful but stressed and depressed people.

Success might be random, like a toss of a coin. That will likely be short-term. Have you heard that 70% of lottery winners spend all their money just in a few years after receiving the big amounts? There has to be something else. Something better than randomness.

As of now, I know that circumstances are one of the factors. But mostly everything depends on the mindset. A human being can change their mind and then be able to change the conditions or adapt to them.

Success happens through forming better habits and sticking to your goals.

As a great thinker and author, James Clear, once tweeted

There are 3 primary drivers of results in life:

1) Your luck (randomness).
2) Your strategy (choices).
3) Your actions (habits).

Only 2 of the 3 are under your control.

But if you master those 2, you can improve the odds that luck will work for you rather than against you.

Did you notice that in life, everything happens in cycles?

I want to introduce you to the cycle of long-term success as I see it today.

The Cycle of Long-term Success
  1. Everything begins with prioritization. It can be some productive work using mind mapping, TODO lists, decision matrixes, and other tools. It can be something that you do intuitively or meditatively in your head. Or it can be something that your managers and bosses do for you.
  2. Then there is planning. It’s dividing big tasks into small ones, assigning time for different tasks, deciding who will do what, choosing appropriate tools. Maybe you’ll also be using Trello, Monday, or Clubhouse, to name a few.
  3. Now it’s time for action. Do what you have to do to move towards your goal. Try to make progress. Try to fit the timetable. Remove all the bottlenecks. Make that call. Write that email. Create that masterpiece. Travel to that destination.
  4. The last step of the cycle is celebrating your successes. Or, if your actions failed, you have something from what to learn and improve for the next time.

And the cycle goes on and on again.


Cover photo by Grant Ritchie

Categories
Life Progress

Top 10 Things to Do at Home for the Next 2 Weeks

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Top 10 things to do at home? As if I could know what fits for you best. You are you, and your choices are what makes you – you. I can only give advice and help you make the most favorable and rational choices. Let your days shine, while you stay home and make coronavirus spread slower so that doctors could keep all patients alive.

What can we do during home quarantine?

There are many things you could do:

  • You could practice your hobbies, like singing, knitting, painting, or reading books.
  • You could try out new hobbies, like decoupage, sculpting, creating poetry, carving, or playing cards.
  • You could improve your skills, like taking online classes, practicing a foreign language, or watching webinars.
  • You could play with your kids, spend quality time with partners, skype with relatives, or care about pets.
  • You could clean up the home, reorder books, or declutter the wardrobe.
  • You could cook dinners, bake pies, shake cocktails, and taste wines.
  • You could socialize online, stream your skills, or participate in web campaigns.
  • You could watch TV, binge-watch a series on Netflix, or play a video game.
  • You could do yoga, workout exercises, or lift weights.
  • You could work from home, build a new business, or develop something for passive income.

But there is one problem. You only have 14 days to stay home during the quarantine. For now. So which things should you choose to make the most of your time?

Maybe you want to do only fun activities? Or maybe you want to do only creative activities? Or maybe you only want to do activities that have long-lasting effects? Or perhaps all at once? Let’s have a look at how you could evaluate things by multiple criteria using the strategic prioritizer 1st things 1st and create your top 10 activities. There is even a project template for that.

⚙️ Project setup

When you go to the Projects section of the 1st things 1st prioritizer, you can start a new project and choose a project template with which to begin. A project wizard will guide you through the configuration steps.

1. Choose a project template, “What to Do at Home”:

Choose a project template

2. Change or keep the project title and description:

Change the project title and description

3. Decide how to name things. By default, you will be evaluating activities by criteria. If you want, you can rename that to things evaluated by values or something like that:

Decide how to name the things

4. Choose your initial criteria. You will be able to add some more free-text criteria later.

Choose initial criteria

5. Choose your initial activities from a list of more than 150 options. You will be able to add even more free-text activities later:

Choose initial activities

Now that you set up the project, let’s go through the 4 steps of prioritization.

🧭 Step 1. Review and edit criteria

In the first step, you would edit the criteria and adjust their importance and the way of evaluating. As I prefer the word “Fun” more than “Engaging”, I renamed that criterion.

Edit criteria

💡 Step 2. Review and edit activities

In the second step, you would edit the activities. For example, I added “Play with my son”, because I find it an essential thing to do for his development and family healthiness.

Edit activities

🎚 Step 3. Evaluate activities by criteria

In the third step, you would evaluate each activity by each of your criteria. For example, cleaning up the home is definitely not fun for me, but probably necessary, and taking a selfie is definitely family-friendly, but probably not mindful. Of course, you could argue about my choices, but that doesn’t matter. What matters is that you make correct choices for your evaluations. 

Evaluate activities

📊 Step 4. Analyze priorities

In the fourth and last step, you would see all your priorities. Check the first 10 priorities – these are your top 10 activities for the next two weeks.

For example, for me, it was:

  • Start journaling, because it’s my way of tracking progress, and I do and like it already anyway.
  • Read a book together, because I find it a good activity for my child’s development, and I still need to get him used to book reading and storytelling.
  • Practice coding, because that is one of my most reliable professional skills.
  • Learn internet marketing, because I need to market the strategic prioritizer and earn more money for lots of different things and causes.
  • Listen to an audiobook, because that allows learning something new while relaxing the eyes.
  • Call a friend or a family member, because during a lockdown, I still need socialization.
  • Chat with someone, because of the same reason.
  • Coach or mentor someone, because we learn by teaching.
  • Play some brain games, because I need some rest too.
  • Play with my son, because for him playing is a fun way of learning.
Analyze priorities

Final words

It makes sense to follow your top priorities because then you can mostly realize yourself and make the best out of your time. Of course, you shouldn’t limit yourself only to those activities. You will still need to do some things that you don’t like. But when you have self-defined guidelines to follow, you can make your life more progressive.

Check out the strategic prioritizer at my 1st things 1st.


Cover photo by Pierre Bamin.

Categories
Progress

Master Your 2020 New Year’s Resolution in 4 Simple Steps

Reading Time: 4 minutes

New Year’s Resolution is a western tradition to set personal objectives for the upcoming year. People list unwanted behaviors to lose, personal goals to achieve, and new habits to which to get used. Then over the year, they try to meet them, although, for the most, it is hardly doable. Statistics say that about 40% of USA residents make New Year’s resolutions, but only 18% accomplish them.

Using 1st things 1st to prioritize your activities

Wishful thinking is good, but achiever’s mindset is even better. What if instead of trying to achieve a long list of questionable goals, you would prioritize them and seek to complete the most relevant ones? Why lose yourself in the magnitude if you can focus on the essential?

Using the strategic prioritizer 1st things 1st, you can prioritize your New Year’s Resolution, so that you could see which activities to aim for and which to let go. Let’s see how to do that.

⚙️ Project setup

From the project templates, choose “New Year’s Resolution”.

Choosing a project template

The project creation wizard will guide you through the most important questions:

1. Change or keep the project title and description:

Changing project title and description

2. Decide how to name things. The preselected values suggest evaluating activities by criteria. You can change it to evaluating goals by personal values, or anything else:

Changing the naming

3. Change or keep the timeframe. By default, it’s the full year from the first till the last day:

Changing timeframe

4. Choose some criteria from a suggested list. You’ll be able to enter some more criteria as free text later.

Choosing criteria

5. Choose some activities from a suggested list. You’ll be able to enter some more activities as free text later too.

Choosing activities

Now when you created the project, let’s explore the main steps of prioritization. 

🧭 Step 1. Review and edit criteria

Now you can edit the list of criteria and change their importance or evaluation type. The default importance for all of them is 100%, and the evaluation type is stars (you will see them in step 3).

For example, for me, the most important criteria are:

  • Interesting experience
  • Valuable in the long term
  • Achievable
  • Affordable
Reviewing criteria

💡 Step 2. Review and edit activities

In the next step we see the list of our chosen activities, for example:

  • Read 10 books.
  • Get in shape.
  • Sanitize your phone weekly.
  • Listen to audiobooks while traveling.
  • Write a gratitude journal.
  • Nurture real friendships.
  • Save money.
  • Write a business plan.

Now we can change their titles and descriptions.

Reviewing activities

Let’s bulk-add a couple of custom activities, for example:

  • Visit Expo 2020 in Dubai.
  • Start a company.
Adding more criteria

🎚 Step 3. Evaluate activities by criteria

Then think about each activity from the perspective of each criterion. For example, writing a gratitude journal is an interesting experience for me (5 stars), but getting in shape is not so interesting (2 stars). Listening to audiobooks while traveling very affordable (5 stars), but going to Dubai for Expo 2020 is not so affordable (2 stars).

Evaluating activities

Evaluating activities (continued)

📊 Step 4. Analyze priorities

The prioritizer shows calculated and sorted activities grouped into the ones:

  • to choose for sure,
  • to consider, and
  • to skip.

My most essential activities for 2020 are to write a gratitude journal and to nurture real friendships. The most questionable activity is traveling to Dubai for Expo 2020.

Priorities of the 2020 New Year's Resolution

Final words

After prioritizing your New Year’s Resolution, try to set up a schedule when you will do what, and try to stick to it. That will increase your chances of achieving your essential goals. But worry not, even if you don’t make all of it this year, because another year will follow afterward.

Check out the strategic prioritizer at www.1st-things-1st.com.


Cover photo by Kelly Sikkema.