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Your Life Needs Strategy and Tactics, Just Like Any Games

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Your Life Needs Strategy and Tactics, Just Like Any Games

Southwest Airlines has been around since 1966, and is generally considered one of the better airlines in the industry. While some airlines focus on big, potentially expensive amenities, Southwest focused its business model on cheaper flights and painless “commuter”-type flights for people who wanted to get from A to B with no fuss. Over time, Southwest’s business model has increasingly become the industry standard for airlines.[1]

Southwest’s broader strategy was cheaper, easier-to-get flights. But strategy is meaningless without tactics. (Some call this “execution.”)

To get cheaper flights, they reduced flight attendants, changed flight models, limited carry-on baggage, and even changed the process of boarding.

Strategy is the what part of thinking about organizational mission: long-term goals. Tactics are the how part: the best practices, specific plans, milestones, resources, and generally how you’ll execute the overall strategy.

You need both in life.

The Art of War: Strategy vs Tactics

One of the most famous books ever written, The Art of War, has a quote along these lines:

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Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.

That book was written more than 2,500 years ago. The context still applies, though. You need both strategy and tactics. You can’t just long-term plan, and you can’t just execute. Both ultimately end up nowhere.

    Strategy and tactics are all over the business world these days. New books on business strategy seemingly come out every day, and the overall “leadership industry” — often teaching executives how to think about strategy and tactics — is somewhere around $44 billion.[2]

    Think about some well-known strategies, for example:

    • Facebook wants to be immersive in people’s lives; they want to be the great connector of our time. That’s the broader strategy. One tactic was to acquire other platforms where people spend a lot of time, i.e. WhatsApp and Instagram.
    • Muji wants to make their products simple. Tactically, they only focus on one feature at a time, and their shops use a simple color tone in design.
    • Nintendo wants to design engaging games that are easy for anyone to pick up and play (strategy). This is why you see them focus more on progressive games instead of complicated role-play games.

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      Strategy Makes Things Clear

      The pros are that having a strategy sets a clear goal and makes it easier to align the efforts of different parties — because the shared goal is the strategy. This ideally creates more long-term stability.

      Unfortunately, strategy isn’t easy to measure because it’s long-term (most businesses focus short-term) and it combines a number of different tactics (cross-departmental measurement can be hard). Strategy is also less flexible and it’s harder to make big, strategic decisions and changes. It usually requires a lot of time and input from multiple people, which can slow down a business as it attempts to innovate.

        Tactics Make Things Concrete

        Essentially the reverse of the above — tactics are quick wins where results are often easy to see and track. There are less concerns about flexibility.

        But as noted in The Art of War, a focus solely on tactics lacks the bigger picture. It’s short-term and unstable, which can cause frustration. This is when you have a job where it seems like all you do is execute but you’re never sure what or why the outcome is.

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          When Strategy or Tactic Is Left Out

          Think of Apple, one of their initial strategies was to make computers portable and universal, which they largely achieved. One of the tactics over time was bringing phone weight down and making that portable, which led to the iPhone. Now the iPhone is on its 10th iteration, it’s essentially a portable computer that can perform lots of different functions, but Apple is having a mini-crisis of strategy. While they have lots of cash, the strategy needs to be updated. They can’t keep producing similar phone products. Their growth has stunted a bit because the tactics outpaced the strategy and the strategy isn’t updated.

          Now think of a personal example. Let’s say you were taking a test in high school and you knew the format would be lots of short questions and a few long ones. The short ones, in total points, are worth more. If you want a high score, your strategy might be to focus on the short ones (practice there and do them first on the actual test), and then do the long ones when time permits. That’s your strategy, and your tactic is doing the short questions first.

          If you had no strategy for this test, you’d go in blind without an idea how to approach the test. If you had no tactic, you’d spend your time in the wrong parts. Either way, you wouldn’t get the highest score.

          Making it Optimum: Strategy x Tactics

          Strategy and tactics together allows you to have long-term focus with short-term execution.

            You should use this dual approach regularly in daily life. If you’re trying to reach your target on closing more deals, your strategy can be to focus on high-spending groups. Your tactics would be to spend 80% of your time locating these high-spending groups and connecting with them — or calling the people who have connections with this group. You don’t focus on low-spending groups.

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            But how do you align strategy and tactics so you have both?

            First, you need to understand purpose.

            Sometimes our to-do lists get filled up with tasks that have no purpose. What are you achieving by carrying an action out? Is it helping you achieve your strategic outcome? Is it helping you achieve any of your goals? This component of a tactic serves two purposes:

            1. It ensures that every tactic helps you achieve your strategic outcome.
            2. It ensures you’re not wasting time on tasks that provide no return.

            Then you need a scheduling component.

            For example, many of us become beholden to our email. To avoid that, decide when and how often you’re going to process messages. Actions move you towards your goals, while scheduling ensures actions are executed. It also keeps you balanced and not as overwhelmed.

            Finally, you need to understand how measurable results work.

            When you complete something, can the result be measured? There’s usually no need to track these results meticulously for every task, but when you’re unsure whether a task is working for you or just wasting your time, measurement provides hard answers.

            To understand more about how strategy and tactics align and work together, check out this article: Tactics & Strategy: Do you know the difference?

            Featured photo credit: 3plusplus via 3plusplus.net

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            Reference

            More by this author

            Leon Ho

            Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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            Last Updated on June 1, 2021

            10 Effective Ways To Make You a Fast Learner

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            10 Effective Ways To Make You a Fast Learner

            The importance of learning cannot be underestimated. Learning empowers us to fulfill our ideas and realize our full potential. The speed of gaining new knowledge is practically as important as its volume. Who wouldn’t love to remember tons of information as quickly as possible?

            If you want to start learning faster, you need a new approach towards the process which would enable you to comprehend the essence of the matter and relate it with new concepts you encounter.

            The following 10 tips will help you become a fast learner:

            1. Analyze Your Learning Style

            Before you can start experimenting with different studying methods, you need to understand what type of learner you are:

            Is your memory associated to sound?

            Maybe you can remember what you were reading when a particular song was playing? If this is your case, then you fall into the category of auditory learners.

            If you want to start studying more efficiently, then it would be wise to record the lectures and listen to them instead of reading textbooks.

            Do you relate information to visual content?

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            If you are a visual learner, you should implement images, graphs, charts, infographics, colorful lists, flashcards, and other types of visual content when you study.

            Are you a physical learner?

            If your learning style is not auditory or visual, then you might be a physical learner. Some students have too much energy; they tap their feet or play with a pen during lectures.

            A walk before a lecture will calm your nerves down. You can try studying or listening to audio lectures during a walk. That will help you remember the information more quickly.

            2. Use the Right EdTech Tools

            Technology has the power of making everything easier. There are plenty of websites, online tools, and smartphone/tablet apps that will boost your skills of planning, writing, time management and brainstorming, etc.

            One way of improving your productivity is using flashcards. You can make your own cards, but you can also download pre-made kits online:

            • StudyBlue is one of the best online destinations when it comes to creating and discovering flashcards from all areas of study.
            • If you are looking for a tool that makes the process of brainstorming more effective, then you should try PapersGear.
            • You also need the SelfControl app, which will eliminate all distractions when you need to stay focused.
            • Quizlet is another website you should bookmark; it offers study tools that will transform the learning process into a fun activity.
            • Notella is an app that will help you take quick notes at any time.
            • Brainscape is an educational platform that makes complex subjects easy by relying on cognitive science.
            • You can also try Dragon Dictation, especially if you are an audio learner.

            3. Train Your Brain to Accept New Information

            Efficient studying is a habit. Your brain needs constant training if you want to improve your focus and complete complex tasks without taking breaks.

            One way to achieve this goal is to create a private learning space in your home. You’ll also need a specific time of day that you’ll devote to studying. That will make your brain ready to accept the information it gets, so you’ll notice you’re starting to learn much faster by the day.

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            4. Get Some Exercise

            You are aware of the fact that physical activity is good for your body, but your brain needs it too!

            Light exercise, such as yoga, can help you learn much faster. If you are inactive throughout the day, your body will want to move, so it will be difficult for you to stay focused.

            If, on the other hand, you canalize your energy through light training sessions, you will be ready to study productively.

            5. Work on the Ambiance

            If you have a noisy neighborhood or a working environment full of distractions, you won’t be able to learn or study no matter how hard you try.

            If you want to learn quickly, you need a quiet, distraction-free environment that won’t disturb the mind in any way. Such a peaceful place will set you in learning mode as soon as you find yourself in it.

            6. Take a Lot of Notes

            Only few people are capable of remembering information as they read it. If you don’t belong to this category of privileged learners, then you absolutely need to start taking notes.

            This simple learning method will force you to think about the essence of the material. It will also give you a nice framework that will help you review the things you’ve learned.

            Write down only the most important information. That will help you remember all the other things you’ve learned.

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            Here’re some tips to take notes effectively: Why Successful People Take Notes And How to Make It Your Habit

            7. Make Mind Maps

            Mind maps are among the best tools to speed up the learning process. Your mind will process information effectively if you create a visual representation of the things you’re about to learn.

            You can create a nice mind map in the old-school way: take a large sheet of paper and organize all facts and explanations. Use pictures, note-cards, and other symbols you can think of. Group similar items together and connect them with colorful pens.

            Some tips mind-mapping here: How to Mind Map: Visualize Your Cluttered Thoughts in 3 Simple Steps

            Of course, you can also use an online mind mapping tool if you want to save yourself some time.

            8. Experiment with Memorization Methods

            Memorizing is often misused in the process of studying. Some people memorize whole sentences, paragraphs and lectures without grasping their essence.

            However, memorization can be useful when you need to learn definitions and classifications really quickly. Don’t avoid this technique if you want to fill your brain with information without wasting any time.

            Try this if you want to memorize more and faster: How to Memorize More and Faster Than Other People

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            9. Find the Right Context

            Memorization works solely in times of urgency. If you want to learn in the most effective manner, then you need to have context for information.

            Find an aspect that’s interesting for you; try to research for related information, and you’ll discover the joy of learning.

            The first step? Jot down as much information and as many ideas as possible: How Simply Jotting Down Ideas Can Make You Smarter

            With time, this practice will make you a faster learner.

            10. Study Every Day

            It will take some time before you get used to a daily studying routine, but your mind will eventually grasp the habit.

            The more frequently you study, the less time it will take for you to remember the things you read.

            If you start studying as soon as possible after you have learned some new concepts, it won’t take long at all for you to get ready for an exam. Now that sounds really good, doesn’t it?

            More to Help You Learn Quicker

            Featured photo credit: Becca Tapert via unsplash.com

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