3 Ways to Maximize Your Results
How to optimize results and avoid waste.
Imagine walking into a grocery store and noticing how neatly different sections are organized. Stores are compartmentalizing gurus. Of course, stores scrutinize where to place each aisle in order to make the most profit. They focus on ease of navigation and flow. For instance, you’re more likely to buy beverages if you first walk through the produce section. Costco will offer their rotisserie chicken for a bargain, but they have it placed all the way at the back of the warehouse. They know how to maximize results, and in this insight we’ll explore how you can benefit from this strategy too.
If stores can maximize results, how can you do it as well? Perhaps more importantly, why would you care to be more like a grocery store? The fact is that in this data (information) era, we’re overloaded with fake news, depressing news, and useless news. Everyone fights for a piece of your attention. We’re burdened by the amount of options available. And all this informational baggage makes it hard to know where you are and where you’re going—which are key components of navigation and flow. If you master them, then you maximize your results. How do you do that? By learning how to structure three important elements: your resources, your ideas, and your time.
Accountants will often talk about how you shouldn’t combine your personal finances with your business’ finances. Each needs to learn to live on it’s own. But we can go further. Why combine any resources? We can learn to organize money for different motives. Think about which areas of your life could benefit from both clarifying what you need in each one of them, and then allocate the necessary resources to manage them independently.
For example, what if you had a section of your money for health care purposes? This section could accrue its own interests. A lot of banks now offer an option where you can divide your money into separate parts within your same account. This helps give clarity about the sum you have devoted for different purposes. Having a college fund is more common, but why not have a few funds for diverse needs?
Organizing resources goes beyond just allocating money. Physical resources are usually lost or misplaced in our homes or workplaces. The Japanese developed an effective way to sort tools. It’s called the 5 s’. In this method, you sort, set in order, shine, standardize, and sustain. In other words, you select what you want from what you don’t want, you group them in useful areas, like the grocery store aisles, then you clean, and make sure that this practice continues.
Convenient access to your resources can help you navigate more effectively and speed up your actions, thus maximizing your results. This also frees valuable mental real estate you can more effectively use to recognize what resources you have at your disposal and how you could leverage them to solve problems! What other type of resources do you think you could benefit from compartmentalizing?
Can you imagine a grocery store displaying unrelated products together? How would you be able to navigate through the store? The same applies to your mind. When you generate different ideas or need to select from someone else’s ideas, you need to do some classifying. How can you expect to make good decisions if your mind is cluttered like a disorganized grocery store? To be able to aid your thinking process, you need to organize your ideas effectively. Even more interesting, how can you tell good ideas from bad ideas and select those worth pursuing?
Categorizing ideas is about being able to have a better process for idea selection whenever you want to start or improve a project. The real challenge is not necessarily in generating ideas but in having a categorizing strategy to recognize which ideas are worth pursuing implementation and which ones are not. The real key is recognizing ideas that you or others believe to have potential. How do you do this? First, categorize them into two groups: ideas that help you understand the world better (why category) and ideas that you want to implement to make the world better (how category).
For instance, studying, researching, and debating why climate change is real fits into the why category. Figuring out how to lessen your carbon footprint fits into the how category. The common denominator in the why category is understanding and in the how category is execution. Problem solving tends to be messy because participants want to jump to solutions, how, without effectively spending time and reaching consensus figuring out the why. Without having clarity as to what we’re doing when and why, ideas become foggy. Problem solving methodologies, such as the 8-step problem solving, has the first 4 steps exclusively meant to brainstorm why ideas before any execution.
On the other hand, execution is about how ideas will be implemented. For instance, revolutionary or creative ideas benefit from peer feedback and review, and interacting with customers via a product mockup. To improve the odds of a successful execution, make sure the team has enough experience both within the field of the idea and across its industry. This will help you recognize the hidden cues of value (upside) while minimizing potential annoyances (downside). Ideally you should have a mixture of both deep and broad experience in the field. Take what Adam Grant, author of Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World says: “Just as scientists, entrepreneurs, and inventors often discover novel ideas through broadening their knowledge to include the arts, we can likewise gain breadth by widening our cultural repertoires.”
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg had deep knowledge in programming but had the necessary broad experience of being a college student and recognizing what social needs college students had. And before he ventured out to the world, he first tested Facebook in his class, then his college, then other colleges, and finally to the world. Grocery stores are no different. Their layout design reflects deep understanding of why we buy things. They may be supply chain experts, but their success depends on broadening to understand human behavior. They know why you’ll want to buy some produce if they place flowers by the entrance, and why you’ll be more likely to buy more groceries if you feel good about having bought fruits and vegetables first. Stores want you not only to flow better, but they want you to feel good about it.
Prioritizing time is often overlooked. Consider how many plans you currently have. How many projects would you like to start? How many things would you like to learn? The fact is that with the abundance of information, you have access to resources and ideas. You can start learning a new language today with an array of free platforms. Use free spreadsheets. You could plan many trips with Google tools. You can do anything. However, unlike a grocery store where everything flows, life seems exhausting and we end up just opting out. It can be hard to find the time and energy to do what you want. When life doesn’t flow smoothly, it’s mentally exhausting. We end up distracting ourselves just to rest.
How do you prioritize time?
- Prioritize who you want to spend time with and who shouldn’t take more of your time.
- Recognize which activities drain you, and which give you energy.
- Decide which hours or which days will be dedicated for what.
- Make a schedule that works for you.
- Help ease your decisions by preloading what you want to do. For instance, set out your work out clothes before you need to decide when to wear them.
- Set small and manageable milestones. (Practice tackling one problem at a time, or the one thing you must tackle first).
- Determine which tasks you want to tackle, which tasks you may need help for, and which tasks you can delegate (if possible).
Prioritizing time is about both having clarity of tasks and freeing up your time. It’s about scope and responsibility. You can’t be in charge of doing everything and neither can others. It’s romantic to believe you can get everything done, but it’s sure to backfire when it comes to your productivity. To be productive, you need to have clarity. Grocery stores depend on how well they use their space too. They can’t afford to leave poor selling items in great shelf real estate, and neither can you with your time! If you figure out what is taking up your time, then you can replace it with your more productive goals.
So what do you get when you effectively structure resources, ideas, and time? You get the upside of action. You get the benefits of clarity because you can see better. Great results are directly correlated with an uncluttered mind. More is not always better. A busy mind is not a productive mind. Multi-tasking is multi-failing to get anything done right. Compartmentalizing helps you see more clearly, flow with more ease, and navigate with more direction and purpose. Be like your favorite grocery store and organize your projects in the same way so that you can maximize the results you’re looking for!
Juan F. Diaz
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