Goal Setting, Achieving Those Goals, And Measuring Your Success And Failures

this will probably only work for me, but I didn't think of all of these techniques on my own. I learned them from others sharing what they found works for best for them too.

Warren Buffet Goal Setting Strategy Applied Recursively

  • take the 25 things that you want to do and only focus on 5
    • this principle is recursive, apply 80% of your effort to the most important of the 5

Limiting Work In Progress Combined With 80/20 Prioritization

Sort tasks by information rate to prioritize tasks based on which are most informative per unit time.

Researchas a Stochastic Decision Process describes a technique to optimize prioritization by selecting the sub tasks that provide you the most information for the parent task. Using Expected Time Saved and Failure Rate we can further optimize our goal prioritization.

Expected Time Saved

Failure Rate = log(1/p)/T

where p is the probability of the task succeeding and T is the estimated time to complete the task

Fail Fast

Task failure tends to be more informative feedback than task success, so tasks with higher Failure Rate should be prioritized higher. The faster you can fail, the faster you can plan and implement successful solutions

Estimating the probability of you succeeding at a task is hard, use heuristics instead

These numbers are all completely made up and in practice you won't be able to estimate things so well. I subjectively distinguish between different "buckets" of success probability, such as:

  • "I am confident that this can be done and that there are no unforeseen difficulties" (~95%)
  • "I am confident that this can be done modulo Murphy's law" (~90%)
  • "I see the basic path to accomplishing this and all the steps seem like they should work" (~65%)
  • "I have the intuition that this should be possible but only have a murky view of the path" (~30%)

How To Estimate The Time It Takes To Complete Projects

if you have done the task before, or have reliable data one others who have done similar tasks rely on metrics

  • tagging your goals with
    • tag name
    • estimated time to completion
    • time taken to complete

allows you find metrics that can give you insight into how long it takes for you to accomplish certain tasks.

Mean Time to Completion = sum(time-taken-to-complete)/K

where K is the total amount of goals achieved for a given tag name

Time Estimate Mean Error Rate

the Time Estimate Mean Error Rate is a metric defined as the average rate of error in estimation across either a set of goals or a set of goal tags

if you haven't done it before, ask someone else

Use Systems To Make Decisions For You.

Don't waste time or cognitive energy deciding what you are going to eat, wear, clean, shop for the day.

Cleaning Calendar

I find a cleaning calendar is a great way to systematize keeping my apartment tidy without heavy cognitive load.


Amazon Wishlist As Grocery List

  • easily re order same items
  • create a cadence reorder schedule

Application: Optimizing My Laundry Loads

Tide pods present an interesting opportunity for me to be able to systematize my laundry process. Since I am using Systems To Make Decisions For Me, I know that I will be doing laundry weekly on Fridays. I don't have any reliable metrics on how many loads that I do, especially since I haven't made the adjustment yet, but I can make an estimate that I will do 3-5 loads of laundry on each Friday. An acceptable error budget that I can establish for this system is one trip to Walgreens before I get a shipment of new tide pods. My trip to Walgreens adds 31 pods to my tide pod stock and an order from amazon adds 90 tide pods to my stock. One trip to Walgreens can also carry over to multiple system errors, because the Tide Pods from my trip to Walgreens does not diminish after I receive a shipment from amazon. This property adds some unexpected resilience to the system as a whole.

Calculating the shipment interval for my Tide Pods will be done by calculating the amount of weeks it should take for me use all of my tide pods.

tide_pod_quantitiy = 90
weekly_usage = 4 # using 4 pods a week as a middle ground estimate
weeks_of_use = tide_pod_quantitiy / weekly_usage

: 22.5

The results show that it takes 22.5 weeks to use all of my tide pods which amounts to 5.625 months. The 6 month renewal option seems like the optimal choice for my situation because it will satisfy my error and automate an item away from my grocery list without me piling up with an unnecessary amount of tide pods.