How I improved my productivity with MoSCoW Prioritisation?

In 1994, The MoSCoW method of prioritization came into fruition by a software developer called Day Clegg. The initial purpose of developing this technique was to execute project-based work with a prioritisation framework under time constriction. MoSCoW method of prioritisation is also known as the MoSCoW analysis. As a prioritisation technique, this technique is a pillar in understanding and managing priorities.

The MoSCoW prioritisation technique is an abbreviation for which the corresponding capital letters have been categorised for a specific initiative.
M – Must have
S – Should have
C – Could have
W – Won’t have

What components are involved in the MoSCoW method?

Let’s break down the components of the MoSCoW method:

  1. Must-Have – A non-negotiable criteria; the essence of this step is critical to the outcome of the project. This is something that can’t be overlooked. For instance, if a project has been set with minimum requirements. It should be met for the success of the project.
  2. Should Have – An important criteria, but not essential to the success of the project. Improving upon ‘should have’ elevates the chances of success but can be postponed due to time or resource restriction. An example to consider, visiting a tropical country for a holiday – a should have would be ‘air conditioning’ without it the experience of the holiday would be a tough sell.
  3. Could Have – A criteria based on the trivial details of the project – everything that is fun and interesting about the project and serves no real purpose to its success. An example to consider is an automated doorbell that has an in-build sensor control. It’s nice to have such measures but serves no purpose.
  4. Won’t Have – A criteria that isn’t aligned with the goal of the project. This can be removed or re-visited at a later stage if the need calls for it.

Why use the MoSCoW method of prioritisation?

There are varying benefits to using the MoSCoW method of prioritisation.

  1. The method acts as a due diligence check against a project’s timeline. It presents with the notion of what needs to be completed first and provides a perceptive over the must-have’s.
  2. The method itself is a foundation for expanding ideas. It provides a level of measure to avoid sunk-cost bias and focus on balancing the priorities of the project.

How to incorporate this technique with other management techniques?

As a technique, I find that it’s well suited to be incorporated with other productivity techniques such as the Eisenhower Matrix in order to manage the priority of the task. 

Another technique to consider would be time-blocking. A means to allocate an activity to a given time frame to complete a task. It can fabricate a visualisation sense to focus our time on (must-have’s and could have’s). Hence, building an accountability loop to complete the tasks.

As simplistic it sounds, it can easily be incorporated into your productivity arsenal. It can provide agile benefits not to just oneself but can bring about a level of stability in the priorities subjected to the team. Hence, elevating the productivity of everyone working in the project towards one goal.


The Untold Secret To Mastering the PYGMALION EFFECT and avoiding the GOLEM EFFECT

Over the past couple of months, I’ve been engrossed in a project that has come to a steady end with its testing phase. The basis of this project has been a perfect example of how the Pygmalion effect took place in a workplace environment. The Pygmalion effect is the positive influence either a (teacher, parent or manager) portrays, which allows the output behaviour of a student, child or employee to exceed expectations.

The Pygmalion effect is best understood as a reminder to be mindful of the potential influence of our expectations.

In 1961 in an experiment undertaken by Alfred Oberlander illustrated the effect of managerial expectations on productivity. In this experiment, he had grouped three sets of variable.

Variable one: consisted of all the superior workers, agents and managers.

Variable two: consisted of all average works, agents and managers

variable three: consisted of least able workers and managers.

In the experiment, Oberlander wanted to stimulate exceeding high performance of the superior group. Due to the selection process of (best) people, the gelling of like minded individuals created an aura of sound ability and the manner to go beyond normal capacity to solve problems effectively.

What is Pygmalion effect?

Let’s shed some light on this with an example.

Manager and Employee

Imagine being allocated to a project at work. The manager expresses high expectations for the project and shares the overall outcome that comes with the project.

The high expectations set by the manager provides an incentive for the employee to hone their performance. This enables the employee – to contribute additional hours on the project, going beyond to continue to work after hours, keeping tabs and double-checking the quality of the work. Setting high expectations plays a critical role in the employee’s behaviour and the overall delivery of the project. A manager’s high expectation led to improved performance and therefore improved outcome. The phenomenon known as the Pygmalion effect has taken place when positive expectations impact behaviour and performance.

What is Golem Effect?

The phenomenon known as the Golem Effect states low expectations leads to a decrease in performance or productivity.

The first instances of the Golem Effect were highlighted in the area of teaching. In 1982, researchers found evidence of the Golem effect in low-expectancy students of high-bias teachers subjecting negative treatment and performing less well than their class peers.

The Golem Effect isn’t subjective to one type of industry. Being in a position of work where I’m able to witness (manager/employee) relationships. The Golem effect can easily be portrayed whether it’s done intentionally or non-intentionally.

For instance, if a manager develops varying expectations of his team – he/she starts to assume that a particular employee is not as qualified, or is lacking skills. There is a certain degree of change in the way they would manage that employee.

The manager could potentially start: micromanaging, assign routine based work and would hesitate to provide the employee with responsibilities of high magnitude.

In the varying situation of how the Golem Effect can take place – a teacher, manager or a coach should take precedence on overcoming the concerning effect. This can be achieved via:

  • Practising the Pygmalion effect – building high expectations of the team and manifesting a trusting relationship.
  • Being self-aware of what’s taking place – understanding that having expectations of people whether they are low or high can truly influence how an individual behaves. Self-awareness allows one to consciously make the effort to find positive attributes about a person, which can be used as a means to set an attitude towards achieving positive expectations.

The Psychological Benefits of Writing

Whether you find yourself writing for fun, for self-help through journaling or just to develop a platform for creation to augment an audience. The method of writing is simplistic – a skill that doesn’t require any prior knowledge. The easiness of just picking up a notebook and a pen and descend into the flow of your thoughts as you cement your troubles or potential ideas. As an activity, I do underestimate its benefits. However, being accountable to write for my blog channel and my newsletter, writing has become an escape for discovery. In this article, I want to take this opportunity to explore various other benefits of writing.

Writing enlarges happiness and reduces stress

In the research paper, the effects of writing were examined on a group of 81 undergraduates. The students were tasked with writing daily for 20 minutes for five months. It was highlighted that writing about life goals was significantly less upsetting than writing about trauma and was associated with a significant increase in well-being. Writing is a form of meditation, a practice of self-healing. To communicate our deepest thoughts, to mind dump views that are off constant worry without being judged. Keeping that in mind – to practice journaling is a measurable way to monitor our thoughts as means of self-reflection. It helps us decode stressful information we encounter daily. The concept of Morning Pages has been ever-so useful because I’ve been able to contextualise ideas, goals and any form of worry. A research study called ‘The Gender Gap and Goal Setting’ found that people who wrote about their goals vividly performed better at achieving them.

So, the question we need to consider why does it help to write down about your goals?

  • Writing down anything occurs at two levels:
    • Written storage – writing down goals on external storage can be reviewed and accessed. I often use ‘sticky notes’ that are usually placed on my vision board.
    • Encoding – the biological process where the information travel’s into our hippocampus to be analysed. This filters information concerning what gets remembered and what becomes eliminated. Writing improves the process of encoding, which helps us remember information for a prolonged time.

Writing increases the level of gratitude

To account for the blessings and positive endeavour’s we should practice writing these moments in our day. Gratitude practice through a gratitude journal creates an enlarging material to reminisce as we get older.

Here are a few things to consider regarding gratitude writing:

  • Enhanced positivity: Whilst reflecting upon the positive endeavours of our day, the natural inclination of such practice creates a positive mindset. By being thankful for the materialistic components of our life, we mitigate negative emotions. 
  • Enhanced self-esteem: Practising gratitude writing improves one’s self-esteem; it improves self-belief. By not dwelling on the comparison spectrum with others, we appreciate the cards we hold that life has dealt us.    
  • Improved sleeping pattern: Psychologically speaking, if the start of the day begins with positive reflection so, should the end of the day. To close off the accountability loop, reflecting on gratitude practice at the end of the day creates a reflection experience that is full of hope. In a continuous form of gratitude practice, a habit of self-reflection creates an energy of contentment and satisfaction. As a result, it reduces stress.

Writing improves communication

Improved communication engenders second-order thinking, which is the result of creating a web of connections. Through the expression of writing, the ability to deliver from simple to complex ideas becomes easier to do so.

Further points to consider: 

1 Engendering a thinking bug

  • Writing often can form a thinking bug which allows us to construct opinions that enables us to view a topic or an area of interest in a holistic manner.
  • Practising to write meaningful reflection is a means to highlight and explore views we consciously think about and such views can direct how we approach day to day activities. For instance, part of my morning pages is to constantly remind myself – let go of my ego and stay humble in the process that life has laid for me. Such sayings act like a mantra that impacts how I communicate with people that I tend to come across.

2 Enhanced vocabulary and articulation

  • Writing often compliments an improved vocabulary. This is reflected in the way we articulate our thoughts in our everyday communication with others.
  • Acquiring feedback – through blogging or a newsletter channel, I’m positioning myself to create a surface area to impact my thought process, which acts to provide constructive feedback.
  • Improved vocabulary – the retention of improved vocabulary does take time. I have a list of words that I don’t utilise in my writing – this creates a level of thinking where I seek out words that better capture the situation I’m trying to describe.

Writing enhances learning

Writing develops a web of connection that creates new forms of learning. Trying to understand the complexity of what you have learned is better understood when we contextualise it through writing. As a result, expanding the knowledge base of various topics, which plays a critical role in not being left out of the conversation. In hindsight, writing can improve critical thinking.

In this published paper, the author highlights that writing improves critical thinking allowing individuals to critically evaluate ideas as a cultivator and an enabler for higher-order thinking.

The theoretical approach to writing as highlighted by Bangert-Drowns et al. stated specific type of writing influences the learning process. In the conducted meta-analysis, he emphasised that the presence of prompts stimulated metacognitive processing such as monitoring and regulation of one own’s learning process. With a self-regulation view, writing does not improve learning but acts as a medium that facilitates better cognitive and metacognitive analysis.

Writing creates memories

I have been practising the idea of Homework for life. It highlights the importance of story-worthy moment within the day as a growing process. It’s about building memories of the day to write about the moments that have added value, or elements of delight that makes the day a memorable moment. A habit of creating memories that can be recalled at moments of notice.

The 5 AM Club: Own Your Morning. Elevate Your Life: By Robin Sharma

I came across ‘The 5 AM club‘ by Robin Sharma via an Instagram post. It was during the same time I was building a routine to practice waking up at 5:30 AM. I decided to give in to my intuition and began reading the book. I discovered a newfound zeal for the ideas and stories that seemed unfamiliar. 

I began to understand the enlarging benefits of waking up early in the morning and what followed on afterwards within the Victory hour.

The book enterprises various techniques and methods that are told uniquely through the journey of two individuals known to the readers as the ‘artist’ and ‘entrepreneur’. The structure of this book acts as a guide for the two individuals, but more importantly for the readers who are following their journey.

I intend to summarize the teachings of this book, in the hope that it is available for those who are overwhelmed by their schedule. 

Please note:

  1. This summarization is biased.
  2. Please assume all other substantive ideas are from the book.

If you wish to find out more about Robin Sharma, check out his site.

Becoming One

A limitation is nothing more than a mentality that too many good people practise daily until they believe it’s a reality. We have defaulted to the idea of living with comfort. And why shouldn’t we? It’s easy and convenient. The issue with comfortable living, there isn’t any growth. The place where your greatest discomfort lies is also the spot where your largest opportunity lives. If we nurture ourselves to comfort living and persist to live in the same way, we forget the feeling of discomfort. Upon experiencing troubling events, we end up freezing to the challenge, forgetting to fight the pressures of the experience. The beliefs that disturb you, the feelings that threaten you, the projects that unnerve you and the unfoldments of your talents that the insecure part of you is resisting are precisely where you need to go too. The symptoms of uneasiness with sweaty palms, the feeling of being restlessness coupled with the nerving feeling in the gut are triggers of discomfort. It’s our body ways of indicating that we are experiencing a discovery. 

How to achieve peak productivity?

Rule 1: Distraction is the enemy. It prevents you from achieving your creative workflows. Being overstimulated with technology is a hindrance to our production workflow.

Rule 2: Improving in your endeavours by 1%. Incremental progress overtime leads to compounding results.

Rule 3: Practice to learn something new will be hard at first, messy in the middle and simple in the end. Learning is a journey of practice and to experience its mediums is a true experience of becoming competent.

Rule 4: To adopt a culture that isn’t followed by the norm. We should engender a mindset that the 95% won’t consider – waking up at 5:30 AM, having cold showers, meditation is just a few things we could consider.

Rule 5: The moment you start to become complacent or feel inclined to not follow through with your daily habits. At that moment, you should follow through with your habits because you increase your surface area for self-discipline. A performance equation to consider is:


20/20/20 Formula

To begin our day with a winning formula – sets us up for a winning mentality that we can carry throughout the day. By owning our morning, we create a flow state that engenders creativity, enhanced productivity and newfound energy to deal with various obstacles.

  1. Pocket 1: Sweat – The first segment of 20 minutes requires you to move. To simply state it – stretch, run and do anything that makes you sweat. 🙋‍♂️How I’ve implemented this rule? This is my third segment of the process, which I’ve dedicate 30 minutes between 7:00-7:30 AM – to stretching or if I’m feeling overly ambitious I’ll end up going for a run.
  2. Pocket 2: Reflect – This second segment of 20 minutes is designed to help you re-access your natural power through reflection. By journaling, meditation or breathing techniques to heighten your measure for dissolving stress. 🙋‍♂️How I’ve implemented this rule? This is my second segment – I end up dedicating 10 minutes to practicing the Wim Hof breathing technique. The remaining 10 minutes, I dedicate to writing my morning pages and journaling to highlight my story-worthy moment from the day before.
  3. Pocket 3: Grow – The third segment of 20 minutes is designed to fortify your growth through the means of investing in reading a book or listening to an audiobook. 🙋‍♂️How I’ve implemented this rule? This is my first segment of the formula – I usually find myself investing about one hour towards it. As soon as I wake up, I consume a bottle of water and cascade into my reading from 5:30 – 6:30 AM.

10 tactics for lifelong improvement

Tactic 1The Tight Bubble of Total Focus (TBTF) 📲: To strength, the bubble of your focus, the overstimulation towards digital consumption is a costing factor to your creativity, spirituality, mentality and financially. Imagine the focus bubble as a porous membrane – you control what goes in and out. To implement the tactic, schedule the day that is flooded with honing your creativity, energy and productivity.

Tactic 2The 90/90/1 Rule 👉🏽: This draws on the idea of the default activity. The 90/90/1 rule is the commitment of 90 days and 90 minutes of your day to a single activity. These 90 minutes are a result of implementing deep work without any interruptions.

Tactic 3The 60/10 Method 👨🏽‍💻: The structure of a working cycle is the result of oscillation work – an alternate burst of deep work followed by rest and recovery. The 60 minutes is the result of a productivity sprint that is compensated by 10 minutes of recovery. The practice of recovery is achieved by reading a book, listening to music that distracts you from current thoughts and worries.

Tactic 4The Daily 5 Concept ❺: Incremental success by 1% are micro-achievements – done consistently overtime compounds the results. By building, a practice of improving by 1% is a habit practised throughout the day creates an aura of confidence. The more you practice, the easier it gets to execute.

Tactic 5The 2nd Wind Workout (2WW) 🏋🏽‍♂️: The practice of implementing a second workout in the evening to rejuvenate your willpower batteries. Walking for one-hour promotes creativity, engenders deep thinking which flows value-based ideas. It also limits your digital consumption. 

Tactic 6The 2 Massage Protocol (2MP) 💆🏽‍♂️: Massage therapy generates significant improvements in brain performance, mood and ability to fight stress. Enjoying the practice of deep tissue massage every week promotes stress reduction, prevents degradation of telomeres and optimizing good health. The benefits of a massage include a 31% reduction of cortisol (the fear hormone) levels; a 31% increase in dopamine (the neurotransmitter of motivation); a 28% elevation of serotonin (the neurochemical responsible for regulating anxiety and raising happiness); reduced muscle tension; improved pain relief via the sending of anti-inflammation messaging to muscle cells; and elevations in the signalling of those cells to make more mitochondria.

Tactic 7Traffic University 🎓: By leveraging your travel time towards continuous growth – listening to audiobooks or podcast whilst driving to and from work. Enlarging the surface area of knowledge and subsequently compounding through the implementation of that knowledge can be a winning ticket to a great idea.

Tactic 8The Dream Team technique ☁️: This technique draws upon the notion of pursuing what you feel passionate about and enjoy doing. By practising the use of the Eisenhower matrix to focus on such endeavours within the scope of the day.

Tactic 9: The Weekly Design System (WDS) 📆: the tactic draws upon positioning yourself to create a weekly schedule. By allocating 30-45 minutes of Sunday morning to assemble the blueprint for the upcoming week. Position yourself to record your goals that you wish to achieve and how you could improve in the coming week. Within the schedule, you set out your victory hour, 90/90/1 sessions, 60/10 cycles and the second Wind Workouts.

Tactic 10: The 60 Minute Student 👨🏽‍🎓: Within the waking hours of your day – dedicate 60 minutes to learning – reading, journaling, learning through an online program or building on a skill through theoretical and practical implementation. In doing so, you’re creating market value for yourself which makes you indispensable in your organisation.

11 Maxim Rules for life

To Create Magic in the World, Own the Magic within Yourself:

French mathematician Blaise Pascal wrote: Release your need for complexity and immerse yourself in the stillness only the early morning can provide so you get to know yourself again.

Collect Miraculous Experiences over Material Things: Be more alive to the wonders that inhabit your days. Never compromise the state of your life over increase income or larger net worth. The more you find value in everything in your life through experiences – you end up creating memories of wonder which adds blissful volume to your life. The real treasure is encapsulated in the shire experiences rather than the materialistic components we shower ourselves.

Failure Inflates Fearlessness: Previously, I used to believe the term failure ponders such negative connotation. One must consider that failures are a form of learning experiences. At times we must even consider ‘What is my favourite kind of failure?‘. To ‘fail as a scientist’ expands on the value that failures are just any other iteration we have experimented with in our process to achieve the desired goal.

Proper use of your primal power creates your personal utopia: Human beings live in a facade of satisfaction. This rule draws upon focusing on four resources that are your thoughts, your feelings, your words and your deeds. To establish a mindset that is persistent in establishing gratitude, ascending mastery in happiness, building a positive influence. To build a speaking habit of encouragement, uplifting attitude that transpire hope, but most importantly people.

Avoid Bad People: Even one enemy is an enemy too many. Pass through life gracefully, taking the high road when conflict shows up. Should someone do you wrong, let karma do the dirty work. Our nature as human beings is to get back at people who have done us wrong and in hindsight – we end up hurting our energy by thinking of ways to get back. By shifting away from such situations, or ignoring what wrong has been done we allow karma to provide that well-needed response.

Money Is the Fruit of Generosity, Not Scarcity: Poverty is the consequence of an inner condition, not an outer situation. There are four practices to consider when developing your financial fortune. Positive expectancy – To develop a mindset that money is available to me in abundance. You welcome refreshing avenues of thought and with the correct opportunity creating additional streams of income. Active faith – is when you behave in a way that shows life you trust it in its abundance and benevolence. Gratitude – in the premise of showing gratitude, as a child whilst I resided in India. My parents instilled a habit of worshipping the God’s in the morning before I left for school. As a form of gratitude exercise, I have lost touch with this habit. I hardly pray now. So, to keep some reminiscences of the old ways, I use an A5 pocket notebook to write a few sentences of gratitude. Value delivery – To over-deliver to the commitments you make in life. I have come to find that its difficult to build that level of commitment when engrossed in multiple projects and interests because you end up over-committing without realising the unintended consequences of first-order thinking.

Optimal Health Maximizes Your Power to Produce Magic: Exercising first thing in the morning initiates an early win of taking care of your health. This leaves your cognition, energy, physiology and spirit primed to create wonders within your day. Optimising health should also include a second workout that acts as a recharging boost. A means to get away from technology with a late-night walk.

Continue Raising Your Life Standards Toward Absolute World-Class: Realising the hedonic adaptations of life and not taking them seriously like getting a promotion. The excitement lasts for a couple of days until it evaporates and then it just becomes another role or buying a luxury car – the feeling evaporates and it becomes another car you own. How does one raise living standards? Investing in the finest books you can buy, and you’ll be rewarded in multiples. Eat fantastic food of the highest calibre, even if all you can currently afford is an excellent starter salad at a luxurious local restaurant. Visit art galleries… so the creativity and consciousness of the painters will rub off on your soul.

Deep Love Yields Unconquerable: This rule is something I don’t practice enough – probably based on the fact that it hasn’t been exercised on me. It seems like an intergenerational habit that I picked up for not advocating praises and goodwill compliments to people around me. This needs to change. A statement from the book that has left an imprinting mark and somewhat a guiding mantra to follow ‘Part of your job as a fully alive human is to make people feel better about themselves. And to make others smile‘. 

Heaven on Earth Is a State, Not a Place: The importance of wonder is a critical aspect of ever-expanding genius. 

Tomorrow Is a Bonus, Not a Right: The precedence of time should be valued to a great extent. Tomorrow is a privilege – one should not consider it for granted. Hence, the moment that we have control over should be made the most off. In the uncertainty of life which is often witnessed in the form of illness, injury and death – we should never assume that it will never happen to us.

I would love to get your feedback or thoughts about this summary, so please consider leaving a comment below 🙂

Photo by Roland Lösslein on Unsplash

Why YOU need to consider second-order thinking?

Second-order thinking is the contingency applied to resolving the unravelling implications of first-order thinking. It engenders a thought process that is outside your comfort zone. As a consequential thinking model, it provides perceptive towards a thought process that provides long-term solutions. From the viewer’s perceptive what may seem to be an initial solution to an immediate problem can often result in unintended consequences. To balance such effects, one must consider second-order thinking.

In an example highlighted in this paper published by Benedict Evans on the topic of Cars and second order consequences. It explores second-order thinking and its consequences as the car industry makes a transition towards electric cars and autonomous drive.

Both electric and autonomy have profound consequences beyond the car industry itself. Half of the global oil production today goes to gasoline, and removing that demand will have geopolitical as well as industrial consequences. Over a million people are killed in car accidents every year around the world, mostly due to human error, and in a fully autonomous world, all of those (and many more injuries) will also go away.

The article highlights the integral notion of second-order thinking by steadily moving towards EV by considering:

  • Decreasing the opportunity of maintenance activities of the combustion engine. This diminishes the financial income of your average mechanic. 
  • The countless gas stations that would become redundant unless steady measures are taken to place in charging units to charge EV. This would affect the financial gains of the local retailers who own such gas stations by decreasing the volume of impulse purchases.
  • The purchasing volume of tobacco and alcohol would deplete since retailers who fill up gas often impulse purchase such commodities.
  • Slowly transitioning onto autonomous cars can have massive economical impact – the reduction in the cost of property damage, medical and emergency services, legal cost or loss of work. With autonomous drive fewer accidents would take place.
  • Policing data is easier to provide with AV cars consisting of 360-degree computer vision recording information.

Second-order thinking

First-order thinking is easy and convenient. Such superficial thinking is based on a set of assumptions and beliefs set by others. It does not take into account the unintended consequences of the implied decision. In hindsight, this engenders further problems than solutions.

In the book, the Most Important Thing by Howard Marks explains the difference between first and second-order thinking.

First-level thinkers look for simple formulas and easy answers.

Second-order thinking is the effect of digging through the beliefs that have been implemented by others. By deliberating and logically understand the problem, we give rise to second, third or nth order – we begin to consider the nature of the problem by thinking ‘outside the box’.

Second-level thinking is deep, complex and convoluted. The second-level thinker takes a great many things into account:

What is the range of likely future outcomes?

What outcome do I think will occur?

What’s the probability I’m right?

What does the consensus think?

How does my thinking differ from the consensus?

In the book The Great Mental Models Volume 1: General Thinking by Shane Parrish expands on the deficiency of second order thinking through this example:

We have been feeding antibiotics to livestock for decades to make the meat safer and cheaper. Only in recent years have we begun to realize that in doing so we have helped create bacteria that we cannot defend against. In 1963, the UC Santa Barbara ecologist and economist Garrett Hardin proposed his First Law of Ecology: “You can never merely do one thing.” We operate in a world of multiple, overlapping connections, like a web, with many significant, yet obscure and unpredictable, relationships. He developed second-order thinking into a tool, showing that if you don’t consider “the effects of the effects,” you can’t really claim to be doing any thinking at all. When it comes to the overuse of antibiotics in meat, the first-order consequence is that the animals gain more weight per pound of food consumed, and thus there is profit for the farmer. Animals are sold by weight, so the less food you have to use to bulk them up, the more money you will make when you go to sell them. The second-order effects, however, have many serious, negative consequences. The bacteria that survive this continued antibiotic exposure are antibiotic resistant. That means that the agricultural industry, when using these antibiotics as bulking agents, is allowing mass numbers of drug-resistant bacteria to become part of our food chain.

How to establish second order thinking?

To develop the process sequencing of adopting second-order thinking – one must evaluate the impact of first-order effects. 

Here’s a six-step process to consider:

  • Your initial solution – your initial solution is based on old beliefs and value that have been determined and created by others. This is the simplicity of first-order thinking with its immediate pros and cons.
  • Outcomes of the solution – to consider the increasing order of consequences of the initial solution. Evaluate further order of consequences and establishing their pros and cons.
  • Raised questions – carry out a question assessment on the consequences raised by asking further questions to understand and learn from the possibility of making the initial decision.
  • Ideal decision – filter through the pros from the decisions that have gone through 2nd, 3rd, nth order of consequences.
  • Gain feedback – based on the filtration process gain perceptive by completing the feedback loop. It will highlight areas of improvement and a refreshing perceptive from the larger audience.
  • To implement a new solution – By implementing the new decision, you compound the value of the improved decision. Understanding the approach of second-order thinking is a short term pain – it will take time, energy and effort, but the outcome is a long term gain.

What can we learn from second-order thinking?

It is evident that to understand the mechanics of the world, we ought to consider second-order and its subsequent effects. In hindsight, this allows us to become observant in constructing the web of connections that are operating around us; the denser the web of connections, the easier it becomes to reach a consensus and follow through with the decision.

Two things to consider:

  • To seek an immediate solution is not necessarily a means of solving a problem. Consider this question:

How often is the short-term gain worth protracted long term pain?

For example, the desire to consume junk food regularly to fulfil the pleasure gratification. The first-order effect is the feeling of consuming junk food. The second-order effect is the shire consumption over a long time could have on the health. The importance of second-order thinking provides a level of clarity by asking questions to ourselves – what I want my body to look like after five years? What health implication would I end up suffering from e.g. diabetes, hypertension? With regular consumption, will my mood be impacted? How will my weight affect my social life or working life?

  • Building to deliver an effective argument – arguments are effective that have considered second-order thinking. By accounting for the pros and cons of an argument, we can anticipate potential challenges or questions.

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How I structure my speech to persuade others?

The skill of persuasion is a trained cultural norm. We witness the sights of persuasion techniques through television commercials, debates, or to even witness my cousin Ramesh implementing his sales pitch on the family. We are subjected to it one way or another.

The philosopher Aristotle introduced a persuasive technique through the use of rhetoric. The persuasive appeal is defined by three modes of persuasion known as ethos, pathos, and logos also referred to as the rhetoric triangle.

Aristotle’s three modes of Persuasion


Ethos is a Greek word that means character. It appeals to the credibility and the reputation of the author/speaker. The use of ethos as a persuasion technique is the attempted means to persuade the audience based on a speaker’s understanding or knowledge.

Creditability of a speaker can be instilled on the merit of their expertise and how well they can convince the audience on the subject matter. This is achieved through historical experiences or expanding on the notion of research that has shown promising results. The ultimate goal of ethos is to engender trust.

In the book Words Like Loaded Pistols written by Sam Leith highlights:

Your audience needs to know (or to believe, which in rhetoric adds up to the same thing) that you are trustworthy, that you have a locus standing to talk on the subject, and that you speak in good faith. You need your audience to believe that you’re, in the well-known words, “A pretty straight kind of guy…you will be seeking to persuade your audience that you are one of them: that your interests and their interests are identical in the case or, to be more convincing, in all cases.

Often you can witness the use of ethos in brand commercials by hiring a celebrity figure to promote their product. There is a natural inclination that the celebrity is a common household name; a trustworthy figure and the product they are promoting are credible.

Here’s an example that you could consider checking out.


Where logic does not dictate, emotion does – pathos is the persuasion technique that allows a speaker to appeal through emotions (negative or positive) of the audience. It focuses on the values and beliefs of the audience. Once, the speaker can get a sense of its audience – they can evoke emotional reactions. In Greek, pathos means suffering or experience. The development of pathos is instilled through emotional tone and language that appeals to the personal experience of the audience. It can also be developed through implied meaning by sharing personal anecdotal experiences.

Implementation of pathos should be a natural process like bringing laughter in a situation. Within the book, the author highlights a tool called Aposiopesis which is –

A sudden breaking off as if at a loss for words – can be intended to stir pathos…it serves to commend the speech more easily to memory, to give pleasure to the audience. Delight is an end, as well as a means.

Pathos isn’t only about evoking emotions, it can also be used to counteract it. Let’s consider an example imagine a mother speaking to her annoyed children. Their annoyance is due to the fact they have to complete their homework instead of playing outside. The direction of the mother’s rule could work in two ways. She could abolish her children from playing outside, or she could work to alter their mindset. By transpiring calmness within her children and advocating if they complete their homework, they will then be able to go play outside.

An example of pathos can be highlighted in a well-renowned speech made by Martin Luther King, Jr – I have a dream.

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. And some of you have come from areas where your quest—quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive. Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed.


If ethos is the ground on which your argument stands, logos is what drives it forward: it is the stuff of your argument, the way one point proceeds to another as if to show that the conclusion to which you are aiming is not only the right one but soo necessary and reasonable as to be more or less the only one.

Logos is a Greek word that means word. Logos is the appeal to logic. It expands on the audience intellect based on the supporting information provided by the author/speaker. The basis of this persuasion technique entails:

  1. Facts – connectivity of facts to draw out clarity within the argument.
  2. Examples – through statistical data to support research
  3. Historical analogies – to highlight experience that are results of varied decisions.

There are two ways of approaching logos:

  • Deductive arguments
  • Inductive arguments

Deductive arguments: The assurance in achieving logos is through the connectivity of facts. Let’s consider a syllogism – a syllogism is a way of combining two premises and drawing a conclusion that follows logically from it. For instance, “All mammals are animals. All elephants are mammals. Therefore, all elephants are animals.” In this example, by proposing multiple statements that are connected with facts and are well reasoned to conclude.

Inductive arguments: These are based on generalisation. They initiate a type of hypothesis which can be tested for a valid conclusion, which doesn’t need to be true but provides a premise to be examined.

Another instance of logos to consider would be commonplace – in the book, the author highlights:

Any form of reasoning has to start from a set of premises, and in rhetoric, those premises are very often commonplaces. A commonplace is a piece of shared wisdom: a tribal assumption.

In the modern West, we’re confident that prevention is better than cure; that hard work deserves a reward; that no means no; that you are innocent until proven guilty, and that all men are created equal. But it would be a commonplace to a man of Aristotle’s generation and time that the opinions of women and slaves were quite irrelevant.

Commonplace are culturally specific, but they tend to be so deep-rooted in their appeal that passes for universal truths.

The metric of a speech should not just be subjected to only one of the modes of persuasion. It’s a skill that overlaps all three together by asking yourself does your message appeal emotion? Does it appeal logic? Does the audience find value in what you are trying to imply?

Unintended Consequences: the power of the Cobra Effect

Cobra effect is the attempted means to solve a problem that leads to an array of unintended consequences. Hence, worsening the situation.

In the colonial rule of the British in India – the British administration took notice to the anxiously increasing venomous cobras in Delhi. They took notice of the issue and advocated a bounty to be placed for every dead cobra. Initially, the strategy was effective – people brought back an increasing number of dead snakes. However, with time enterprising people feed off the financial incentive and began breeding cobras, as a means to generate an income. As the administration became aware of the opportunist, they scrapped the bounty. Eventually, the cobra farmers now possessed worthless cobras which were released back into the wild. Hence, increasing the overall population of the Cobras. This is the origin of the Cobra Effect.

Similarly, an incident took place in Hanoi under French Colonial rule. A bounty was initiated that provided a reward for each killed rat. As a result, people started to severe the rat tail as evidence for a dead rat to obtain the bounty. With time, Colonial officials started to observe rats with no tail’s roaming around the city. The Vietnamese rat catchers would capture rats, severe off their tail’s, and then release them back into the sewers to procreate. Hence, increasing the population of rats. This enabled the rat-catchers to generate revenue from the bounty program.

Another instance of the cobra was evident in the 1980s, Mexico City suffered extreme air pollution caused by the cars driven around by 18 million residents. The city instated Hoy No Circula. A law imposed to reduce 20% off the cars from the last digits of their license plates. The impact of imposing this law allowed some people to carpool, use public transports and taxis. However, those who undermined the government and contradicted against the law brought a second car with a different license plate. The purchase of the second car was even more detrimental. It was a cheaper running vehicle and contributed to air pollution at a higher rate.

How to avoid the Cobra Effect?

To avoid cobra effect is to realise the conventional thinking between two points is not an ideal means to solve a problem. If we find ourselves eager to jump into action to solve a problem, we underestimate the symptoms of the problem. When we consider the problem before acting on it, we become better at preventing it.

Take precedence over second order thinking

In the examples above the use of first-order thinking is a convenient method to solve the immediate problem without realising unintended consequences.

Ray Dalio suggests:

“Failing to consider second- and third-order consequences is the cause of a lot of painfully bad decisions, and it is especially deadly when the first inferior option confirms your own biases. Never seize on the first available option, no matter how good it seems, before you’ve asked questions and explored.

The use of Second-order thinking allows us to consider whether the initial solutions or our biases are acceptable. Consider second, third or nth order of consequences to favour a decision that is well-thought-out by asking ‘and then what?’. It suggests repeatedly thinking about the consequences of a decision like eating junk food every day and using that information to make a decision. In hindsight, you’re more inclined to consume produce that is health. 

Gear up with thinking models

The development of mental models can assist us in visualising unintended consequences. They act as a contingency which defogs the shroud over bad decisions. One to consider would be the Pre-mortem analysis.

Defined as:

Pre-Mortem analysis is a technique to help prevent having to complete a post mortem on a total project failure. The purpose is to identify vulnerabilities in the plan. A Pre-Mortem analysis is a forward looking process rather than the backward looking process of a post-mortem.

By creating a model that enriches a solution don’t rush into implementing it. Acquire feedback through testing to validate the model. Challenge assumptions or signs of troubleshooting to improve upon the model.

Act within your circle

We have a circle of speciality that provides us with the opportunity to make well-educated decisions. However, if we act outside our circle, our competency level, our speciality – we begin to engender uncalculated risk that gives rise to unintended consequences. If you began fixing your car without consoling a mechanic, you’re acting outside your competency hence increasing the problem.

The ramification of unplanned decisions can be reckless, which could impact our personal and professional lives. We assume our decisions hold value, but the unintended consequences do not progress linearly. When adhering to make a decision contemplating the consequences is pivotal. Hence, the use of ‘thinking mental model’ can be useful.

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Annual Review: 2020

As I began to write this review for 2020, I wanted to highlight that the ever-increasing death tolls that continue to rise has left a mark in history. I want to take this opportunity to send out my condolences to the families who have been affected by COVID-19.

I applaud everyone who has upheld their responsibility for the safety of others and themselves. I further wish to send my humble gratitude to the front line workers who have risked their lives and continue to do so in tackling the overwhelming odds of COVID-19.

This review is a compilation of my learnings from the past year. It has taken me a while to cement my learning outcome to wrap off the accountability loop. This review is a reflection of my internal appreciation and gratitude for the countless online mentors, writers, and content makers who have been a source of inspiration.

I hope these lessons are just a few examples that could act as a source of wisdom for others.

Shoot, edit and repeat

Written by the author: Austin Kleon, the book Show you work expresses the meaning behind “document your work”. I started a YouTube channel: planning, shooting, and editing videos. I began adding value through my creation. I showed my process-based work to indicate that every process of a completed project is pivotal. As I continued my stream of creation I decided to hone my production value by investing in various equipment. I consider it as compound value investments – a new camera, lights, an external microphone have only added value to my creative process.

In this journey of creating, I was consistent in my production of uploading a video per week – running with the idea that I need to focus on quantity, not quality. Learning from my mistakes I improved on my editing skills. I later became consumed in spending time scripting, researching around the topic to a greater depth. This halted my process of publishing every week. I ended the year with 22 subscribers.

Learning Outcome: Enjoying the process of learning doesn’t need to be a task.

Hold yourself accountable

Coding, web-designing, learning to play the piano – these were some of my goals that I engendered without any planning in 2020. I’ll continue to pursue these goals to build a sufficient competency in 2021 with accountable planning.

As part of my work, I was tested from the prospect of learning in an uncomfortable environment. In November and December, I became involved in external testing at a customer site. This opportunity was both my risk and luck play to expand my expertise. I became equipped with a unique experience of travelling to a new place, becoming accustomed to an unfamiliar working culture in the field. I took accountability for the opportunity and prepared myself as best as I could. I won’t digress I’d stepbacks that I consider as my learning curves.

Learning Outcome: Learning or being provided with the opportunity to learn is a form of risk or luck. It’s a risk because you’re challenged. It’s luck because you’re in a position to learn where others aren’t able to.

Above all, recognize that if you have had success, you have also had luck—and with luck comes obligation. You owe a debt, and not just to your gods. You owe a debt to the unlucky.” —Michael Lewis

Making a pact to read more 

Here’s my list on Goodreads for my current selection of books. In the interest of setting goals, I targeted a goal of 15 books at the start of 2020. I began to read and listen to authors, understanding the insights of various kinds of literature that have impacted my growth set and my mindset in a new direction. I ended the year with a number higher than 15. I invested in tools like Kindle and Audible as my medium. I held myself accountable by creating my own biased summarizes of the books that I have read and making it available for others to review.

Here are some of my summaries to ponder on.

I find it intriguing to commit my time to summarize the valuable teachings of a book for those who are overwhelmed by their own schedule. A means to provide bias perception that highlights distilled teachings.

Learning Outcome: Make a pact and create a process that benefits ALL.

To invest for financial independence

I have come to learn that educating myself to hone my financial literacy is critically important. I began to unfold my fear of the unknown and started to act against it; I began to invest.

Don’t rest your money, invest it.

P.S. I am not a financial advisor. Anything I state on this topic is biased.

  1. I experimented with ETFs with Vanguard and opened an investing account to invest on a long term basis. So far the returns are good due to dollar cost averaging.
  2. I also started to understand the meaning of ‘Asset’ and ‘Liabilities’. I am now actively trying to build various streams of ‘asset’ based income. For those who are not familiar with the two terms, let’s clarify to provide more information.
    • Your car is a liability if the sole purpose is personal. It’s an asset if there are multi-purposes of having a car like working as an uber driver.
    • Your house is a liability. However, if you rent a room, the house becomes an asset because you’re earning an income. 

Learning Outcome: Understand the psychology of money and how to use it for one’s benefit.

Self-invention through writing

Writing has become a new kind of meditation therapy. Commencing deep work for 60 minutes whilst listening to instrumental songs on repeat. As a practice, this feels quite a rhythmic routine. Early 2020, I began the journey of writing a blog post each week. I took no notice of the structure in my writing short or long-form; it didn’t matter. I wanted to build consistency, which reflected in every new post. I even decided to expand and stretch my writing cap with a weekly newsletter in the same year. I called it Monday Madness. Reflecting on the past week highlighting various snippet of values that I’d encountered.

Writing has allowed me to express my interests in a variety of topics. In the concluding months of the year, I decided practicing long forms of essays; minimizing my consistency in publishing a post to every few weeks. This entailed a greater depth of research, which enabled me to distil insights from scholars in the field, authors and other bloggers. Initially, it was tasking, but the joy in learning from others provided a refreshing new insight.

If you haven’t already considered, please visit my second home on the internet – Monday Madness.

Learning Outcome: Writing is my therapy.

How I viewed time?

I began viewing my time as a valuable commodity. I recently came across a quote: 

The rich invest in time, the poor invest in money.

Warren Buffet

At the start of 2020, I started practicing the art of a daily schedule. I would allocate tasks and try to remain true to them within the day. I educated myself to hone my productivity with tools and techniques. I improved my weekly workflow to achieve more, to get things done rather than procrastinate. 

There is a natural inclination to procrastinate and I’m no different to it. To hold yourself accountable in the moment of procrastination by reminding yourself – what should you be doing with your time? provides a much needed reality check.

Here are some of the things I’ve learned on being productive:

Learning Outcome: Be conscious of how you spend your time.

Building my networking

One of the primary goals I had set out for myself in 2020 was to meet new people. I was able to achieve this as I became involved with a network marketing company. In the last three months, I have met many new people, it’s refreshing to witness individuals who share a similar drive to myself. I grew relations that I consider to be a catalyst to my growth in the coming year. 

Learning Outcome: Meeting new people, new ideas and new relations enlarge your circle of growth.

Thank you for taking your time to read this review – I hope you had an amazing start to the New Year and wish you the best for your endeavours in 2021.

Photo by Immo Wegmann on Unsplash

What did I learn from Elon Musk?

First principle thinking is the basis of solving a problem by questioning your ‘initial’ analogy or assumptions. The practice of breaking down the problem to its acute elements. It allows you to build new knowledge, information which engenders creative solutions. One of the greatest philosophers of our history Aristotle, who advocated his efforts towards his philosophical work in ‘the first principle thinking’ has been described in Terence Irwin book called Aristotle’s First Principles.

In every systematic inquiry (methodos) where there are first principles, or causes, or elements, knowledge and science result from acquiring knowledge of these; for we think we know something just in case we acquire knowledge of the primary causes, the primary first principles, all the way to the elements. It is clear, then, that in the science of nature as elsewhere, we should try first to determine questions about the first principles. The naturally proper direction of our road is from things better known and clearer to us, to things that are clearer and better known by nature; for the things known to us are not the same as the things known unconditionally (haplôs). Hence it is necessary for us to progress, following this procedure, from the things that are less clear by nature, but clearer to us, towards things that are clearer and better known by nature. (Phys. 184a10–21)

Simple conventional thinking is for the norm. We are conformed to the analogies, to the ideas, to the possibilities of others. It hinders our growth if we fail to raise any questions. Individuals who are avid users of first principle thinking are innovators. They stem original thoughts and find solutions which adds value. One of the most profound users of this principle is Elon Musk.

What is first principle thinking?

To acquire clarity on this subject, let’s explore a few examples that I’ve come to encounter.

In this interview, Kevin Rose interviewed Elon Must during which he stated:

Well, I do think there’s a good framework for thinking. It is physics. You know, the sort of first principles reasoning. Generally I think there are — what I mean by that is, boil things down to their fundamental truths and reason up from there, as opposed to reasoning by analogy.

His example highlights why its important to think with first principle thinking.

Somebody could say — and in fact people do — that battery packs are really expensive and that’s just the way they will always be because that’s the way they have been in the past. Well, no, that’s pretty dumb – Because if you applied that reasoning to anything new, then you wouldn’t be able to ever get to that new thing you can’t say, “oh, nobody wants a car because horses are great, and we’re used to them and they can eat grass and there’s lots of grass all over the place and there’s no gasoline that people can buy”

He further enlightens us with his example on the cost of a battery.

Historically, it costs $600 per kilowatt-hour. And so it’s not going to be much better than that in the future. So the first principles would be, what are the material constituents of the batteries? What is the spot market value of the material constituents? It’s got cobalt, nickel, aluminum, carbon, and some polymers for separation, and a steel can. So break that down on a material basis; if we bought that on a London Metal Exchange, what would each of these things cost? Oh, jeez, it’s $80 per kilowatt-hour. So, clearly, you just need to think of clever ways to take those materials and combine them into the shape of a battery cell, and you can have batteries that are much, much cheaper than anyone realizes.

Similarly to the approach employed by a military strategist: John Boyd. He suggested the use of first principle using a simple framework. Let’s explore this to provide clarity.

Imagine you have three things:

  1. a bicycle
  2. a skier behind the motorboat.
  3. a military-grade tank

Using first principle thinking, let’s dismantle these elements into their constituent parts.

  1. a bicycle has the following constituents – the seat, a pair of wheels, handlebar and gears
  2. a motorboat has the following constituents – the hull of a boat, a motor and a pair of skis.
  3. a military tank has the following constituents – a cannon gun, a pair of metallic threads and the outer plating.

From the individual constituent of the three elements – ask yourself what can we create? 

By utilizing the following:

  1. Bicycle – seat, handlebar 
  2. Military Tank – a pair of metallic threads
  3. Motorboat – a motor and a pair of skis

You can create a snowmobile. Applying the deconstructive approach of what we already know and building new innovation is the means of thinking from the first principle.

5 Step-method of establishing First Principle thinking

  1. Explain the idea – what’s the premise for your thinking?
  2. Challenge the current basis of the idea – gain a level of understanding if the idea could be approached from a different direction.
  3. Provide evidence – if the idea has any weight, gather evidence to prove it.
  4. What are the implications of the idea? – is it worse or better? Does it provide any value?
  5. What are the alternatives, if the idea doesn’t work out? – Is there’s a Plan B? Have you gained perceptive from others by asking for negative feedback to explore what they didn’t like about the idea?

Going back to the basics, we enterprise a beginner’s mindset. We engender a mindset of ‘how to achieve‘. Past analogies are not ideal; they rely on previous experiences. In the constantly changing environment, exploring innovation and frontiers are the result of first principle thinking.

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If you haven’t already – visit my second home on the internet. It’s called The Monday Madness

Year 2020: Apps and Tools

This year has provided tremendous value and growth in honing my productivity. The growth is subjected to a few nominated apps that I rely on as part of my daily workflow.

I will break this article down to highlight:

  1. Note-taking apps
  2. Todo list apps
  3. Audio related apps

Note taking apps

  1. Notability – Notability is an excellent application for the iPad. In combination with the Apple Pencil, handwritten notes are easier to produce, which eliminates the use of a notebook and a pen. I find it encouraging to use this application whenever I’m importing a PDF document to review or signing various documents. During my initial phase of using this app, I was actively using it to write blog posts. However, during COVID-19, I resorted back to using my iPad to work on my writing and creating new graphic ideas that I could highlight in my newsletter. Another app to consider would be Goodnotes, I haven’t tested it much, but I can’t wait to try it out in the new year.
  2. Notion – A game-changer for my workflow. I actively use this app to manage my writing and creative process. The functionality and usefulness of this app has enlarged my outputs making it manageable to balance my creative process. Through various key applications within Notion, I have been able to experiment with different board views, creating additional pages within a category of topics, and assemble my scavenger list in a table list to manage various pillars of my life. I’ve previously done videos on using Notion as a beginner. You can check them out here. Certain inbuilt tools that I love to utilise are the ‘toggle’, which can wrap away large amounts of information. The ‘to-do checkbox’ provide that instant gratification when you have completed a task. Also, the ability to create innovative templates that play a key role in minimising setup time. This app has truly become a second brain, my capture hub to enhance my productivity.
  3. RoamResearch – An underdog but a recent addition, to the world of note-taking apps. RoamResearch is another note-taking app to my workflow, it’s my secondary component for value storage as part of the Zettelkasten Method. The advantage of creating bi-directional links to gather relevant information has been beneficial. I’m able to manage my value storage easily by assembling information on an author who has produced various works of literature or creating a tag system on a category of topics. It works well with my ‘snippet of value’ section when I’m composing my weekly newsletter called the Monday Madness.

Todo List Apps

  1. Todoist – I would consider this to be more than just a standard todo-ist app. An effective means to capture your tasks that are important but not urgent. A particular usefulness of this app is creating a project and within the assigned project creating a to-do list. This can be monitored with reminders which are sent to your email account.
  2. Draft – You could consider this as a note-taking app, however I prefer to use this as my go to “to-do list app”. I use this app to practice capture habit or managing a to-do list within the scope of the day. The use of the app with an Apple Watch is a productivity advantage. It allows you to dictate your ideas or capture notes whilst multitasking i.e. driving or running.

Audio related Apps

  1. Airr – This app has been a revelation in the making – a recent addition to my productivity arsenal. The functionality of this app presents a single advantage in the form of “snip quotes”. I can save intervals of 15, 30 or 45 second snippets whenever I’m listening to a podcast, which can be reviewed at a later time. The snippets are available in audio as well as being transcribed. The saved highlights can also be exported onto your personal note-taking platform if supported through readwise.
  2. Audible – An alternative to reading, I find listening to books on audible to be an effective use of my time whilst driving. I find myself listening to various fictions and autobiographies during my journey from and to work. An effective means of repurposing unproductive time. Audible also has the capability to “clip snippets of information”, which can be reviewed at a later time.

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Let me know in the comments below if I should be experimenting with any other apps in the coming year.