Tag Archive for 'efficiency'

Plan Backwards from the Deadline

Suppose you have a paper due the last week of classes. You can plan to handle that paper in a few ways:

  • Closing your eyes and dealing with it the week before
  • Planning your next steps
  • OR, planning backwards from that deadline

How often do you miss your own deadlines? You’ll say to yourself, ahh, I have time, I can start researching this next week! But soon, the weeks close in, and you’re left cramming everything together at the last minute in your dining hall, with a large cup of joe.

 Next time you have an important project, try planning backwards from the deadline.

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Recommendation: Todoist for Your To Do List

In a previous post, I examined ways of organizing your busy busy Harvard life. At the time, I didn’t have a good “To Do List” or task management organizer for you.

Now, I am proud to recommend Todoist.com

Todoist is a website that allows you to create To Do Lists (complete with deadlines and project breakdowns) that would make any dork envious.

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Hacking the Mental Supply Chain

The supply chain and distribution network behind a simple product, like a lamp, is ridiculously intricate and complex. Chances are the lamp had to cross the seas, move through customs, hit a warehouse, get distributed via trucks or planes, hit the stores, get deboxed and brought out to the sales floor for a given store. And somewhere along the way, all of this needs to be coordinated.

Think of the sheer number of people involved, the time, the effort. But, somehow, we can keep massive grocery stores perfectly stocked with a few thousands different types of items. So, although the supply chain is exceedingly complex, the network becomes more efficient with increases in scale and follows a few basic principles.

If you consider the end product of thought and action — be it a novel, new business etc. — it too follows a mental supply chain of sorts, going from conception to finalization.

This post examines ways to improve the mental supply chain — decreasing the time/effort between thought and action and increasing efficiency overall.

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Just-In-Time Thinking

The Japanese perfected just-in-time inventory, with a great many savings and benefits. Right when you need a product, you produce it. No need to worry about the cost of holding that inventory and sitting pretty on potentially 5,000 extra units of stuff that might not sell.

Similarly, while I was stressing out over my class schedule last summer, I realized the sheer pointlessness of brooding over decisions that I can’t possibly make without further, next-to-the-last-minute information. I’m not going to be able to decide between two core classes unless I shop both of them…two or three months down the road. There’s no point in spending hours two or three months ahead of time trying to decide between the two.

Just-In-Time thinking is a way of managing decision-making, so that you think through what you need to think through WHEN you need to think through it.

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