Categories
Development Entrepreneurship Life Progress Self-awareness

Making One-way Door Decisions

Reading Time: 6 minutes

Managers in big corporations like Amazon, Virgin, and Facebook use a particular problem-solving approach. Whenever they face a decision to make, at first, they determine if that decision is a two-way door decision or a one-way door decision. Two-way door decisions are cheap. You can try them, see if they work, and get back to the starting point in case of failure. One-way door decisions are harsh. They are related to significant risks and things that you can’t reverse. And even if you do get back, you will never be at the same point where you started. One-way decisions require thorough considerations and should never be rushed.

Corporations are corporations, but can we use this decision-making approach in our own daily lives? Absolutely. Have a look at several custom-tailored examples of how you could make one-way decisions.

A choice to be made for a life explorer

You like adventures. Going to concerts and festivals is in your blood. You feel best when socializing with friends and making new connections. But there is one small problem: you can’t decide whether to get yourself the first tattoo you want or skip. When you have a tattoo, there is no way back. Or at least not an easy way.

So you have two choices, so far:

  1. Get a tattoo.
  2. Keep your body tattoo-free.

Think about your values?

Would the tattoo reflect your original personality? Or would the tattoo-free body reflect your personality more?

In 30 years, would you regret more about making a tattoo on your body? Or would you regret more that you decided not to make a tattoo at this time?

Do your health conditions support a tattoo? Or would your health conditions support a clean body more?

Would your body look more aesthetic with a tattoo or without it?

Would you feel more fulfilled with a tattoo or without it?

Does your profession allow you to have a tattoo, or unfortunately not?

Will your friends and relatives support you more with a tattoo or without it?

The list could go on.

Evaluate your choices by all those different criteria. Then sum up the advantages of each approach. And here, you will get a clear picture of whether to have a nonvanishing sign on your skin or rather have plain mundane skin.

A choice to be made for an artist

You are creative. Your head is always full of visuals. Your imagination is rich. You always are ahead with new ideas. But here you go: you need to choose a theme for your next collection. If you do it wrong, you might lose a lot of your followers. Your reputation can be ruined. You won’t be accepted in the most significant exhibition houses anymore.

So you have several themes that you like:

  1. Green living
  2. Women rights
  3. Space exploration
  4. Things people carry every day
  5. Street art metamorphosis
  6. Human cloning
  7. Visualising music
  8. Retrospective on children psychology
  9. Art therapy for anger management

Think of how you wanna be remembered in your old age.

  • Influential
  • Impactful
  • Mysterious
  • Financially free
  • Respected
  • Authentic
  • etc.

Think about each of your ideas, how they will match your expectations about yourself.

Will the collection about “Green living” make you influential? What about impactful? Will you be considered mysterious if you choose this theme? Can it make you financially safe?

When you evaluate each of your themes by each quality you want to achieve, you will have a clear picture of your topic. 

A choice to be made for an NGO fundraiser:

As an NGO fundraiser working for an ecological cause, you have to choose a crowdfunding platform which you will communicate on your website, social media, and press releases. Once the news is out, you can’t get them back. But there are so many crowdfunding platforms to choose from. It’s confusing. Which of them is the best? How not get lost in decision-making fatigue?

Should you choose one of the dinosaurs like Kickstarter, Indiegogo, or GoFundMe? Should you go with the plain good PayPal? Or should you make use of one of the new platforms like Kindful, Handbid, Sodality.app, Fundly, Qgiv, 360MatchPro, Donately, Classy, CoinUp, Fundraise Up, RaiseDonors, GivingFuel, you name it? How not get lost in paralysis by analysis?

Think of some criteria which are essential for choosing your crowdfunding platform. Something like these would work:

  • Is your category supported on that platform?
  • Can you keep what you collected even if you didn’t reach the goal?
  • Are the transaction fees low?
  • Is the platform fee low or even none?
  • Is the monthly fee low or even none?
  • Are there giving levels with presents for the donations to motivate the donors?
  • How customizable is your fundraising profile?
  • Is the platform well known in your country?

Do your research. Answer those questions for each of your platforms. Then sum up the results and see which of the platforms got the most points.

A choice to be made for a project manager

The company you are working at has already gained some traction. Several different potential clients have reached out wanting to get your services. But your resources are limited, and you can only serve 2 or 3 of them at a time. Which of them should you choose? Once you establish a connection, you have to stick with it: the projects and the clients will be listed in your portfolio, web searches, press, etc.

Do you have a vision of an ideal client? Think of some criteria for choosing your best clients. For example, some of them could be:

  • How much are your goals shared?
  • How much do you respect that client?
  • How much do you believe in their brand?
  • How much do they respect what you do?
  • How much those clients fit your culture and ways of communication?
  • How willing are you to work on their project?
  • How competent is your company to work with this client’s needs?
  • How much are those clients ready to pay for the quality instead of just costs?
  • How much is it likely to form long-term collaborations with this client?

Anything more to add?

Evaluate each of those questions for each client with a number from 1 (very unlikely) to 5 (very likely). Then sum up the points for each client and see your winners.

A choice to be made for a frontend engineer

When somebody says that HTML is a programming language, it turns your eyes red and puts your head on fire. You know the slightest differences of each browser and how to make a website tick on each of them. But every time you start a new big project, you have to deal with this question again and again: which JavaScript framework to use?

Should you use React, Angular, or Vue? Should you try Svelte, Preact, Ember.JS, Backbone.js, Mithril.js, Polymer.js, Meteor.js, Aurelia, Express.js, vanilla JavaScript with web components? Or should you just stick with the old friend jQuery?

Once you choose a JavaScript framework for a project, you can switch to another one only when you do a major update of the website, probably in a few years.

Start with the criteria:

  • Is that framework trending this year?
  • Has it been growing on Google trends?
  • Does it feel familiar?
  • Is it simple to start with?
  • Is the documentation clear and extensive?
  • Do you like the coding principles in that framework?
  • Are there enough StackOverflow answers about that framework?
  • Is there a friendly and helping community behind the framework?
  • Are there enough jobs using this framework in your city, country, or remotely?
  • Does this framework has enough Github stars?

Add more criteria if you consider something is missing.

Do some googling, read some articles, do what you need, and answer those questions for each of your frameworks. Then sum up your yeses, and here you have the answer!

A choice to be made for a startup founder

You have produced an app and bootstrapped a company, the sales are happening, you have a stable income, but you want to scale it now and need some extra money for the new hires and marketing. Which financing option should you choose – that’s a question.

  • Should you fund yourself with money from your family?
  • Should you seek venture capital?
  • Could an Angel investor help you?
  • Should you rely on funding-based investment companies?
  • Would you consider crowdfunding?
  • Or is crowdinvesting a better option?
  • Should you get a bank loan?
  • What about getting a grant?
  • Are you in Europe and would like to get European Union funding?

Which of those financing options are best for your business?

Let’s start with the criteria. By what criteria could you evaluate your financing options? My hint would be those:

  • How likely can your business afford this type of financing?
  • How likely is your time in business appropriate for getting this type of financing?
  • How likely can you get the required amount from this type of financing?
  • How likely will your credit history allow this type of financing?
  • How much is this financing option based on your chosen financing form (debt or equity)?
  • How likely will the economic period (current growth or recession) allow this type of financing?
  • How much do you like the lender or investor?

Would you add anything else?

Evaluate each financing option from each perspective with likeliness points from 1 (very unlikely) to 5 (very likely). Then sum up the points for each option, and you’ll get the winners.

Invitation

If you are tired of Excel sheets and pen and paper are too limiting, I invite you to try and use the strategic prioritizer “1st things 1st“. There you can evaluate things by multiple criteria and get your priorities sorted out.

With the tool, you can evaluate your things with yes or no answers or gradually. Also, you can set different weights for different criteria if some of them are more important to you.

Final words

Some decisions we make in our lives are reversible. People call them “two-way door decisions.” But other decisions have a major impact on your life and work, and you cannot easily get back to the point where you started. These are called “one-way door decisions.”

When you face a one-way door decision, you can’t act spontaneously and have to evaluate your choices from all the different perspectives.

To do that efficiently, you can make use of strategic prioritizer “1st things 1st”. See you there!


Cover photo by Brett Jordan

Categories
Life Progress Self-awareness

Needs and Priorities: Important Questions to Ask Yourself

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Somewhat 80 years ago, an American psychologist Abraham Harold Maslow generalized a hierarchy of needs, where each level of needs builds upon the previous one. At the very base, people require a smartphone with the Internet. Just kidding.

The overview of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs

At the very base, we all have physiological needs. To stay alive, we need to eat when we have hunger, drink when we are thirsty, have something to wear for the right body temperature, get to the WC when we need it, have a place to sleep, and probably someone to sleep with.

Then we have safety needs, such as a stable source of income, having where to live, being secure outside, at home, and at work, having some rules to follow, being treated well in case of illnesses, and getting help in case of fire or other catastrophes. At this level, we want to have structure and order. We want to know our limits and live stable and predictable lives.

These two steps ensure that a person will survive physically in this world.

Then we have a need to love, be loved, and belong. At this level, life without connections feels empty. We require pets, friends, lovers, family, coworkers, communities. We want to be a part of something bigger. We want to share intimacy and tenderness, affection and belonging. 

The next level is the need of esteem. We want to feel strength, self-esteem, and self-love inside of us. At the same time, we want recognition for our achieved mastery and respect for our competence from the outside world. At this level, we demand reputation and prestige.

Then there is the need of self-actualization. At this level, we want to explore, learn more, stimulate our minds. We want to play, grow, bring our best to the world. We need to be in harmony, order, and beauty.

The needs and priorities

At all of those levels we make decisions. 

  • At the bottom of the hierarchy we need to choose what to do to survive physically. 
  • Then we need to make decisions what to do to survive psychologically without becoming robots or zombies. 
  • Then we need to decide what to do to become more than social animals. 
  • Then we need to find a way how to escape the narcissism and arrogance. 
  • Finally we need to make decisions what to do to achieve the full harmony in the world. 

To make conscious decisions we have to prioritize some things over others. Let’s explore some of the crucial decisions we make at each level of our needs.

Physiological needs

What are you going to eat and drink to survive another month, week, or even this day?

When choosing food and drinks, you would typically ask yourself: Is your food cheap? Does it fill you? Is it tasty?

To get to the upper levels, you should also ask: Is your food healthy? Is your food nutritious? Does it give enough energy to you? Will your friends or family like it? Will you get a compliment for making this dish? Will your cooking skills be honored? Is it made from the best ingredients? Won’t you need to throw half your ingredients away? Is your food supply chain practical, ethical, fairtrade?

What are you going to wear?

When choosing clothes and shoes, you would typically ask yourself: Do they fit the season? Are they clean? Do they look appropriate?

To get to higher levels, you should also ask: Are they comfortable? Do they look good? Will your friends and loved ones like it? Do you feel like yourself in those clothes? Do you look respectful with this outfit? Do you need another piece of jacket this year? Are you living your authentic self with these clothes?

Safety needs

What job should you have?

When choosing a career, you would typically ask yourself: Is it paid enough? Do you understand, and can you do what they ask you there? Is it not too hard? Is it not too boring?

To get to the upper levels, you should also ask: Do you feel accepted by coworkers? Are coworkers friendly? Are you recognized for your work? Does your salary match your skills? Does the work fulfill you? Do you grow enough there? Do you do something meaningful there? Are you living your full potential at your work?

What should you buy today?

When choosing a purchase, you would typically ask yourself: Is it affordable? Do you want it? Do you need it?

To get to the higher levels, you should also ask: Is it long-lasting? Will that improve your comfort? Will that improve your relationships? Is that a brand you like? Will that look prestigious? Will that represent the status you are at? Is it useful? Does it look authentic and original? Is it ethically and ecologically made and brought to your shops?

Love & belonging needs

Which event should you attend?

When choosing events to go to, you would typically ask yourself: Would you go to this event for solidarity? Do you like the content of the event? Do you like the people who will gather there? Is it a chance to make new friends?

To get to the upper levels, you should also ask: do you feel like yourself in these kinds of events? Is it a chance to express yourself and gain recognition there? Is it not too long? Is there a chance to meet people of the same interests and social status? Can you make an impact at such events? Can you feel authentic at such events?

What present to get to your friend?

When choosing a present, you would typically ask yourself: Can you afford it? Will your friend like it? Is it something they don’t have yet?

To get to the higher levels, you should also ask: Will that present match your friend’s social status? Will that gift show your admiration and respect for your friend? Will that present lift your friend? Will that present add up to the authenticity of your friend?

Esteem needs

What should be your goals for the upcoming years?

When choosing long-term goals, you would typically ask yourself: Is that goal specific? Can it be measured? Is it attainable for you? Is it realistic to achieve it? Is the timing correct for this goal?

To get to the upper level, you should also ask: Is the goal positively stated? Is it ethical? Is it challenging you? Is it environmentally sound?

What books should you read?

When choosing your next book to read, you would typically ask yourself: Does it bring you knowledge and understanding? Does it improve your skills? Is it widespread or reputable literature? Is it interesting? Is it entertaining?

To get to the higher level, you should also ask: Does it make you a better human being? Does it lift you up spiritually? Does it help to find yourself or going towards your personal mission?

Need for self-actualization

What are the activities that you could call your Ikigai?

When choosing your reason for being, you would typically ask yourself: Do you love doing it? Are you good at it? Can you be paid for it? Does the world need it?

To go even further, you should ask yourself: Is it healthy? Is it ethical? Is it sustainable? Is it ecological? Is it progressive?

What should you do today?

When choosing the next optimal action to do today, you would typically ask yourself: Does that bring you closer to your goals? Does it remove bottlenecks? Does it make money or reduces costs?

To go even further, you should ask yourself: Is it impactful? Is it ethically, socially, and ecologically responsible? Does it bring more health and clarity to your life?

Invitation

So you have to make decisions and prioritize your choices at all levels of needs. The strategic prioritizer “1st things 1st” was designed to help you not lose yourself among all those choices and dimensions and help you grow as an individual, personality, and spirit. You are invited to use it and make your life more progressive.

If you are still struggling at the survival phase, but you would still like to make better decisions in your life, drop me a message and your reasons at the contact form. Every month I will select several people to use the tool for free.


Cover picture by Chester Wade

Categories
Development Life Progress

The Cycle of Long-term Success (UPDATED)

Reading Time: 2 minutes

One kind of events in life happens spontaneously, unplanned, powered by intuition, and seeming random. Calling a friend, buying a chocolate bar, or sitting down on a bench at a fountain doesn’t require special preparation.

Another kind of events requires making hard decisions because of the urge to gain something huge or the risk of losing something important. In those cases, it’s better to get prepared.

In life, as in nature, everything happens in cycles. Previously I introduced you to the cycle of long-term success as I saw it at that moment. Today, I have refined the mentioned cycle, and now it consists of these 5 steps: research, prioritize, plan, act, reflect.

1. Research

Research is formalized curiosity. It is poking and prying with a purpose.
– Zora Neale Hurston

First of all, before taking a measured action, you would need to find out what your choices are today. You can use a search engine, Wikipedia, references, podcasts, magazines, books, or anything else that provides you with information that you could utilize in your field of focus. Gather information with the intent to incorporate it into your activities.

2. Prioritize

“If everything is important, then nothing is.”
– Patrick M. Lencioni

There are several ways to set priorities for your activities. You can use the flexible and mighty prioritizer “1st things 1st”, decision matrices in Excel sheets, Eisenhower Matrix on a piece of paper, or maybe just selecting the first several priorities intuitively.

3. Plan

If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much.
– Jim Rohn

Put your most important activities on the schedule. You can use Google Calendar, Apple Calendar, monday.com, any other scheduling app, or even an analog calendar on your wall or in your Moleskine. Try not to have more than 3 activities in a day. Book yourself or your colleagues for the vital work to do.

4. Act

Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does.
– William James

Now it’s time to do what you have planned. Have a necessary meeting or a zoom call, speak, write, or perform what’s on your list today this hour.

5. Reflect

It is only by reflecting on the past that one can create a better future.
– Rithy Panh

If you got positive results, celebrate the wins. If you failed, see what you can learn from your mistakes. The next time will be better. Now go back to the first step and do the new research.

Final words

If you master the cycle of long-term success, you form a habit of success. Whether you win or lose, you gain experience and become excellent at what you do.


Cover photo by Ian Stauffer

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
Life Self-awareness

What Was Your Name Again?

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Whether your first name is James, Mary, or X Æ A-Xii, your name not only identifies you but also shapes your character and influences how other people will accept you. With the wrong name, you could have problems with being accepted by the society you are living in. With the wrong name, you can have difficulties getting a partner or job you want. With the wrong name, you can have a weight of associations that people bring to it. When you are about to have a baby, don’t give them the wrong name.

Our story

My wife and I are from Lithuania, and we are living in Berlin, Germany. Before the births of our kids, we did some name researches to find names that would be well accepted in Germany as well as being Lithuanian. I wouldn’t be a programmer if I wouldn’t take 500 most popular names in Germany and filter them using Python programming language to see the ones with Lithuanian word endings. From that point, we got just a handful of names and intuitively chose the ones that we liked most. I hope that Joris and Laura will enjoy the names they got at birth and will live integral and successful lives.

If we didn’t trust our intuition, we could have used the strategic prioritizer 1st things 1st to analyze a few names by multiple aspects. Let’s see how we could have done that.

Using the prioritizer

At 1st things 1st, you can evaluate anything (like first names) by multiple criteria (like aspects) and get calculated priorities. The workflow looks like this:

  1. You define your criteria or aspects.
  2. You list out your things, like first names.
  3. You evaluate each name by each aspect.
  4. You explore the prioritized first names.

Step 1. Define your aspects

Let’s brainstorm for some aspects that we can use to evaluate first names:

  • Both parents like it
  • Easy to pronounce
  • Easy to spell
  • Sounds good together with the last name
  • Doesn’t have negative associations
  • Has a nice meaning
  • Unique
  • Traditional
  • Globally recognized
  • Authentic in your native country
  • Ethnically appropriate
  • Doesn’t prompt negative nicknames
  • Doesn’t sound foolish for a middle-aged person
  • Some relative has it
  • A person you admire has it
  • A favorite book or movie character has it

I will choose the ones that are most important to me and enter into the prioritizer.

Both parents like it
Easy to pronounce
Easy to spell
Globally recognized
Doesn't sound foolish for a middle aged person
Bulk-add all the aspects into the prioritizer

Here they are all added to the tool:

Essential aspects for prioritizing first names added to 1st things 1st

Step 2. List out the first names

Now let’s list some first names that you thought could be good candidates, let’s say, for a daughter:

  • Lina
  • Laura
  • Ada
  • Lara
  • Emma
Several female first names listed for evaluation

Step 3. Evaluate each name by each aspect

Then I go through the list of aspects and names and rate how each name matches each aspect.

Evaluating first names by 5 most essential aspects

Step 4. Explore the prioritized names

In the last step, I get all first names prioritized by how much they match all the aspects. “Laura” is in the first position with a 100% match. Other names got fewer points, so they are less recommended to choose. 

Last thoughts

If people call you by another name already or you want to start a new chapter in your life, you can still officially change your first name in some countries. But if you care about your kids’ well being, choose their names wisely as soon as they come into this world.

Other interesting reads


Cover photo by Yoann Boyer

Categories
Development

Restart with Better Charts

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Not so long ago, calculated priorities at 1st things 1st were displayed together with Radar charts. Was it the best visual representation for the priorities? Or is there anything better for your needs? Something more obvious, customizable, and intuitive?

Radar charts are the past

Radar charts (sometimes called Spider charts) are great for multidimensional comparisons. You have the complete overview at the fingertips and can compare the different items, side by side. Some radar implementations even suggest comparing different things with different dimensions on different layers of the same graph.

Radar charts are the past

But Radar Charts are the past. At least for the 1st things 1st. Because they have these drawbacks:

  • They don’t work well with less than 3 or more than 6 dimensions. In those cases, the best what I could think of was to replace them with Bar charts.
  • If you have different weights for different dimensions, you couldn’t properly represent them in the chart.
  • If the names of the criteria are long, they don’t fit into the dedicated space and make the chart very clumsy and fragile at the same time.

I did some googling and found another type of chart that could work. It was a Polar Area Chart. It’s like a Pie Chart with arcs of the same angles, but different radiuses representing the differences. I believed that with some slight modification, I could achieve even better results.

Aster Plot charts for the win

Some more time researching passed, and finally, I found what I had in my imagination – a rarely used chart which they call Aster Plot chart. Aster Plot Chart is a combo of the Polar Area Chart and Donut Chart.

Reading Aster Plot charts is simple. The more the donut is filled with color, the closer to 100% is its total score.

Aster plot charts for the win

With the Aster Plot chart, you can not only show different dimensions with any amount of them. You can also represent different weights for those dimensions.

Adjusting relative weights for criteria

For example, if we adjusted the relative weights for our criteria, the Aster Plot charts would show arcs of different angles for each weight, and different radiuses for each score.

Aster plot charts with custom weights

The names of the criteria are not gone. They are shown as tooltips on mouseover. And you can have as long names as necessary. I will just need to improve the accessibility by keyboard someday.

Final Words

When creating something innovative and crazy, you can be surprised that other people have already analyzed some steps of your path. Just do some googling, reading, and evaluation, and you’ll find ways that you had never taken or thought. And you’ll learn the vocabulary that you are missing.

Innovation is an original combination of what is already known. And if you haven’t already, try the first of a kind strategic prioritizer 1st things 1st.


Cover photo by Jason Coudriet

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 very well.


Cover photo by Michael Dziedzic

Categories
Entrepreneurship

How to Strategically Select Stories for Your Weekly Newsletter

Reading Time: 4 minutes

The problem: lack of clarity

Let’s say you have a mailing list with a few thousand subscribers. You send a newsletter every week on Tuesdays at 2 pm. You want to keep your subscribers engaged with some news related to your service and some industry news and opinions from around the world.

You use Quora, Twitter, and LinkedIn feeds, medium.com blogs, and your secret source to discover new exciting information from your industry. How would you decide which of the findings to send in the newsletter? You probably don’t want to send randomly selected news, because it matters to you how many subscribers you will have and how many of them will click on your links and buy your products.

You will carefully select your stories by the following criteria:

  • Is it relatable to your target user?
  • Is the news source trustworthy?
  • Are the events described actual?
  • Is the story captivating?
  • Does it create positive vibes?

One of the best ways to make a decision is to use the strategic prioritizer 1st things 1st.

The solution: using 1st things 1st

The workflow of the strategic prioritizer is pretty straightforward and consists of four steps:

  1. Defining criteria
  2. Listing out stories (or other things)
  3. Evaluating stories by each criterion
  4. Exploring priorities
Workflow

Let’s have a look at how to do that!

⚙️ Project setup

Log in to 1st things 1st and create a new project. From the prioritization project templates, choose “Blank”.

The project creation wizard will guide you through the essential questions:

1. Enter a project title and optionally a description. For example, you can call your project “Stories for the Newsletter”:

Enter project title

2. Decide how to name things. In this case, we will be evaluating Stories by Criteria.

Decide how to name things

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

🧭 Step 1. Add criteria

The first step of prioritization is adding criteria. Choose Bulk add criteria and enter these criteria one per line:

Relatable
Trustworthy
Actual
Captivating
Positive

Choose the evaluation type From “definitely not” to “definitely” for them.

Bulk add criteria

You will get five criteria created in your project. Now to set the importance of any of the criteria less than 100%, edit that criterion.

Criteria listed

💡 Step 2. Add stories

In the next step, you will add stories to prioritize. For example, you want to sort three stories about Augmented Reality:

Choose Bulk add stories and enter the titles one per line:

Facebook teases a vision of remote work using augmented and virtual reality

Copy and paste the real world with your phone using augmented reality

This augmented reality eyepiece lets firefighters see through smoke
Bulk add stories

You will get the stories added to the project. There you can edit each of them and, for example, add the links in the descriptions:

Stories listed

🎚 Step 3. Evaluate stories by criteria

Now evaluate all stories by all criteria. Go through the whole list and mark your choices. Be aware that the number of evaluations will be equal to criteria × stories.

Let’s say, the first two stories are probably relatable, because lots of people work from home and copy-paste, but the story about firefighters are possibly relatable because not so many people extinguish fires. The first two stories are definitely trustworthy, because verge.com has high Alexa site ranking, and the third story is probably trustworthy because the ranking is lower. The story about Facebook’s employees working from home is probably not very captivating, because the video is of poor quality, but the other two stories are pretty captivating. 

Evaluate stories by criteria

📊 Step 4. See priorities

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

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

As a result, all of the chosen stories are pretty strong, but the story about copying and pasting in augmented reality would be the most worth sharing in the newsletter; it got the priority of 90%. The story about firefighters got 85%; maybe you can share it next week. And the last one, the story about using Augmented Reality at the home office of Facebook employees, got 75%.

If the results are entirely unexpected, try to adjust the importance of your criteria or change the criteria to match your values.

Final words

After prioritizing your news stories, create the newsletter, describe the story of high priority or link to the original, send it, and keep the number of subscribers growing.

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


Cover photo by My name is Yanick.

Categories
Uncategorized

Will Online Courses Be the Key to YOUR Success?

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Udemy, Coursera, LinkedIn Learning, Masterclass, Mindvalley, edX, FutureLearn, Codecademy, freeCodeCamp, and so on and forth – with so many online learning platforms and their offerings, it is not so trivial to choose the right online course for you. What if I say that there is a rational way to make the right decision? I will show you how I did that with my online-course preferences.

A great opportunity to study

Coronavirus lockdowns forced us to spend more time at home. The lucky ones got possibilities to work remotely while saving commuting time. Many others were forced to stay at home without work, and that opened even bigger time slots to learn new skills.

I am not an exception. While staying home, I noticed that there is a little more time and decided to build up my skills. For quite a while, I’ve had a dream to learn the basics of piano, I wish to learn more about digital marketing, I want to improve my memory, and I think that machine learning skills could be beneficial in my professional life.

Over time I collected a list of courses that I would like to take:

  • “Piano for all” by Robin Hall on Udemy, because it teaches different genres of piano music, not just the classical, and should be fun to learn.
  • “All Access Pass” on 42courses, because all of those courses look very lively and modern, and teach different kinds of marketing skills that I would use for my company Websightful UG
  • “Superbrain Quest” by Jim Kwik on Mindvalley, because Jim Kwik is the best memory coach.
  • “Applied Machine Learning in Python” by Kevyn Collins-Thompson on Coursera, because one day once and for all, I want to have a good understanding of Machine Learning and be able to solve real problems with it.
  • “Copywriting secrets” by Len Smith and Sean Kaye on Udemy, because I want to improve the writing skills that I will use in this blog, the 1st things 1st website, and elsewhere to create content that persuades and sells.

What should I study first? And why? I made use of strategic prioritizer 1st things 1st to figure that out.

Using 1st things 1st

1st things 1st is an online tool to rate anything by multiple criteria and calculate total priorities. You can prioritize anything in these 4 steps:

  • Define criteria
  • List out things (such as online courses)
  • Evaluate things by each criterion
  • Examine the priorities
Prioritizing online courses

Let’s have a look at how I prioritized my selected online courses to find out the first one to study.

⚙️ Project setup

I added a new project to my personal account. From the project templates, I chose “Online Courses”. The same project template exists at an organizational account too.

Choose project template

The project creation wizard guided me through the essential questions:

1. The project title and description – I was alright with the defaults, so I immediately went to the next step:

Change project title and description

2. Then I had to decide how to name things. The preselected values suggested evaluating Online courses by Criteria. That sounded pretty good to me. Next!

Change how you name the things

3. Then I could choose up to 5 criteria. I took the three ones that resonated with me mostly.

Choosing criteria

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

🧭 Step 1. Review and edit criteria

In the first step of prioritization, I could edit the list of criteria and change their importance or evaluation types. The default importance for all of them was 100%, and the evaluation types differed depending on the context.

For example, this is how I set the criteria for online courses:

  • Improves skills for personal mission because the mission itself is what defines my future.
  • Self-paced course because I don’t want to be bounded to specific times of the day and week for studying.
  • Entertaining because I like edutainment, not just dull streams of information.
  • Needed soon because I want to apply the knowledge gained as soon as possible before it is forgotten.
  • Low-cost because currently, I have other critical expenses that I need to cover.

All of those criteria mattered to me, so I set the 100% importance to all of them.

Add more criteria

Your criteria and their importance would depend on your attitude and perspectives. For example, maybe these things mattered to you: the authority of the lecturer, the popularity of the course, direct contact with the teacher, or the certificate after the successful completion.

💡 Step 2. Add online courses

In the next step, I had to list out the courses.

I clicked on the button “Bulk add online courses” and pasted this list:

"Piano for all" by Robin Hall on Udemy
"All Access Pass" on 42courses
"Superbrain Quest" by Jim Kwik on Mindvalley
"Applied Machine Learning in Python" by Kevyn Collins-Thompson on Coursera
"Copywriting secrets" by Len Smith and Sean Kaye on Udemy
List out online courses

As a result, my online courses were created at the prioritizer:

Online courses listed

🎚 Step 3. Evaluate courses by criteria

Now it’s time to evaluate all online courses by all criteria.

For example, learning piano didn’t follow my mission, but learning marketing skills did. All of those courses happened to be self-paced. The machine learning course was probably not entertaining, but the others were. Some of those courses were very affordable or even free, and some of them were very expensive.

Evaluate online courses by criteria

📊 Step 4. Examine priorities

The prioritizer showed calculated and sorted courses grouped into the ones:

  • to choose for sure,
  • to consider, and
  • to skip.
Analyze your priorities and take action

For me, the first course to take was about copywriting secrets: it supposed to move me towards my mission, it could be interesting to study, and it was very affordable. I took it without procrastination and completed it just a few hours ago.

The other courses were also quite high in the priority list, and I would take the opportunity to study them sooner or later.

Only learning piano could wait until I reach my primary goals.

Final words

Use your intuition when selecting a list of online courses, but evaluate them rationally if you want your life to lead you somewhere day after day.

Check out the strategic prioritizer 1st things 1st now and make a progressive life!


Cover photo by Noémi Macavei-Katócz.

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.