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Life hacks for efficient thinking and communication

Life hacks for efficient thinking and communication
Photo by Markus Spiske from Pexels

Three Sentences - a disciplined way to deal with email

The Problem: E-mail takes too long to respond to, resulting in continuous inbox overflow for those who receive a lot.

The Solution: Treat all email responses like SMS text messages or Tweets, using a set number of letters per response. Since it’s too hard to count letters, count sentences instead.

Three Sentences is a personal policy that all email responses regardless of recipient or subject will be three sentences or fewer. It’s that simple.

Photo by Anna Tarazevich from Pexels

Advice hack - ask the Master

In a high stakes situation, when the other party is a master at his / her game. e.g. when selling your used car to a dealer. Ask for advice from the master as to answer his/her own question.

Salesman: "What is your asking price?"

You: "You are much more skilled at this than I. How would you answer this question professionally?"

Advice hack - advise yourself

When facing a tough decision and you are unsure how to decide, ask yourself this:

If my best friend were to approach me and ask: "Zsolt, I am in this situation. What would you advise me to do?"

This subtle change in articulating the problem will shift your perspective on the situation. You'll be able to view the dilemma from a distance and from a different angle. As a result, you will advise yourself in line with your values and life experiences.

Slow burn hack

This hack will help you prepare your thoughts with minimum effort. 

Imagine that someone asks you to write a paper or prepare a presentation for an important meeting, one that is still further out in the future, maybe one or two months away. 

Right after accepting the challenge, create a note e.g. by starting an email and saving it as a draft or by opening an empty page in your notebook, and write 3 sentences on the topic. Return to this page every day or every couple of days (depending on how far out the event is) and every time spend a few minutes musing on the subject and adding additional thoughts and sentences. By the time comes to write the report or prepare the presentation, you'll be full of ideas on the subject, and an outline will have formed in your mind.

Stepping stone hack

The stepping stone hack reminds me of my studies of quantum mechanics. 

In classical mechanics, a particle has, at every moment, an exact position and an exact momentum. This is much like our experience in school, where every lesson had a well-defined purpose and every exercise an exact solution. 

Under the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics, particles do not have exactly determined properties, and when measured, the result is randomly drawn from a probability distribution which can be predicted by the Schr├Âdinger equation. This is like thinking. Until we put our thoughts into words, we can't really put our finger on what we think exactly. 

The stepping stone hack is a way to develop a complex product, such as a strategic plan with a team of people. Follow this process: Spend two or three weeks talking and thinking about the topic in your group. After this period, crystallize the results of your thinking in a one or two-page position paper (not a PowerPoint slide with bullet points, but proper sentences in paragraphs). You don't need to have all the answers, just document where your thinking has gotten the group to, and what questions still need to be resolved. In the next round of two to three weeks treat the position paper as a stepping stone, setting out basic assumptions and directions regarding the topic, and continue debating the issue. After another few weeks write the next position paper, and so on. Place the stepping stones in the river until you can make the crossing.

Sleep on it

Our brain is magical. If you are facing a problem that you can't solve, focus your mind on the issue for a moment before going to sleep. Often you'll know the solution by the time you wake up the next day.

10-10-10 A Life-Transforming Idea

Source: book Suzy Welch
In any situation when you find yourself torn between options X or Y, ask yourself these 3 questions:
  1. Is it going to matter 10 minutes from now?
  2. Is it going to matter 10 months from now?
  3. Is it going to matter 10 years from now?
A twist on the 10-10-10 rule by James Altucher:
  1. Can I start in 10 minutes?
  2. Will I still be doing it in 10 months from now?
  3. Will I look back in 10 years and be glad I did it?
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