Sunday, January 8, 2017

Systems for the new year (and other years too)

In lieu of goals or resolutions for the new year, here are some systems I've found useful over the years:

Less.

Process to zero. For me it started with Inbox Zero. Then I realized the world was full of processing convexities and that processing to zero was generally an efficient and effective way of dealing with those.

Automate, reduce, reuse, delegate, simplify, repurpose; Automate... the real scarce resource for everyone is attention $\times$ time. Solve once, apply often.

Even paranoids have enemies. Consider others' incentive compatibility and individual rationality drivers, particularly as it concerns information that is single-sourced or traceable to a single source.

Robustness beats optimality. Because optimality is never quite optimized for the randomness that can occur.

Show, don't tell. It's not just a gym rule (though it's a good gym rule). Works both as a signaling device (from me to others) and a screening device (from others to me).

Systems, not goals. This compact form comes from Scott Adams's book How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Life but the idea has been floating around for a while.