Razors I use to simplify decisions
Set and enforce your hourly rate
A razor is a mental model or rule of thumb that makes decision making easier. We use such shortcuts extensively to reduce the mental load to go about our daily lives. By the very fact that they are shortcuts, however, they can lead us to the wrong conclusion. They should be used with care, e.g. to deal with blind spots and biases. This post describes five razors I use regularly.
If you have to choose between two similar options, pick the one that feels like it will create the best future opportunities. Our actions can put us in a position that opens doors we didn’t know existed. By making it easy for people to find me online via my personal website PhilMartin.net, LinkedIn, Twitter and this blog, people discovered me and unexpected opportunities came my way.
Stress v Benefit Analysis
A variation of the Cost v Benefit analysis is the Stress v Benefit analysis. If you are considering doing something stressful then only do so if there is sufficient potential benefit. Studies suggest middle managers are the most stressed group in organisations and explains why I chose not to climb the corporate ladder.
Things always take longer than we expect, even when we take Hofstadter’s Law into account. We often overestimate what can be achieved in a given amount of time. When asked how long something will take, I try to break the task down into smaller components and focus my estimate on those elements which in under my direct control.
Cognitive Resource Razor
Every new feature added to a system takes users cognitive effort to understand and use. Only add them if the enhanced user experience and broader context is sufficient to offset the drain. Perhaps the feature should be hidden or minimised until the user needs to use it - this is progressive disclosure. Whenever I develop a spreadsheet, app or website, I apply Simplicity in 8 Steps.
Hourly Rate Razor
Set and enforce an aspirational personal hourly rate. If fixing a problem will save less than your hourly rate, ignore it. If outsourcing a task will cost less than your hourly rate, outsource it. - Naval Ravikant
I could have repointed a stone wall to the front of my house, but employed someone to do the work for me instead. Their effective hourly rate was a lot less than mine.
The Great Mental Models Vol. 1 book by Farnham Street
Tools for Better Thinking website by Untools
The Most Powerful Razors podcast by Sahil Bloom
15 Useful Razors and Rules tweet by George Mack
This post describes five razors I use to assist my daily decision making. Until next Sunday, let me know if there is a decision making rule of thumb you enjoy using.