How To Breakdown & Process Information For Maximum Effect
I’m no neuroscientist or truth be told scientist of any kind. Yet I understand the value of having different models to process information and arrive at conclusions from that information. On my site I process a lot of information and then give it to my readers. To do this I need some sort of framework to pass it through so that I can rest assured that I am getting the maximum value from it as well as retaining as much of it as possible in order to then give maximum value to my readers.
One of the best ways that I have found to do this is through classifying information into different categories and understanding the importance of those different categories. I first came across this when reading books. Some books I found much more valuable than others and I was wondering why. Both contained good information, both were written by authors who knew what they were talking about, and both were relatively well written. Yet some seemed to always come out ahead in the quality of information.
The thing I noticed was the books that I got less value from often had a lot of action steps and things to do. And I thought “How could this be?” how could the books that provided concrete steps be less valuable then the ones that provided a much broader view of things? It was only after breaking down the information received into three separate categories that I figured it out and what I’m going to explain in this article. The respective categories were principles, tactics, and techniques.
Principles were the most valuable type of information that I found. Principles are the type of things that make a book, story, or piece of advice timeless. Some examples of principles might be in business “give value” or with women “be dominant” or with life “be strong” they are things that last for eternity and never change. Books that hit on principles I have always found to be the best. Books like Aesop’s Fables, The Bible, or Meditations.
All of these books hit on timeless principles and themes that we can all relate too and help us understand life better. When I read a book that focuses on principles it’s easier for me to retain the information inside for a couple of reasons. The first being because principles are generally broad ideas that you have heard before but simply need reinforcing. Also principles generally resonate with something deep within. Aesop’s Fables may not provide you with an exact technique to succeed in the workplace but it offers you something much more important principles that you can apply using your own creativity.
Another word for this would be strategies. They aren’t as broad or as timeless as principles but they still have broad appeal and value. Some examples of tactics would be “use direct marketing” for business, “maximize your SMV” for picking up women, and “learn a martial art” for life. Tactics require more memorization and study then principles as they aren’t as broad and generally aren’t thing you’ll hit on again and again unless you’re gathering information in a particular niche or field.
Some examples of books with tactics would be Scientific Advertising or Secrets Of Closing The Sale. Despite these books being older they still contain useful tactics and strategies that you can put to use even if you have to modify them a little bit. They aren’t as timeless as say Proverbs or the writings of the Stoics but they still have a longer shelf life than most. You can still use the tactics lain out in Scientific Advertising in your business such as testing all of your ads likewise you can still use the tactic of addressing a prospect’s objections in Secrets Of Closing The Sale. Though these things will not last forever.
The final category of information is techniques. These are things that you can do right away and generally only last a year or two at best. For example “use hashtags on Twitter to promote your business”, “ask a woman an opinion opener”, or “throw a right jolt to an opponent’s chin”. These are exact specific things to do. Books that contain these generally don’t have much value to add except for when you need them in the moment.
You see this with books that have “101” in the title. They generally have a shelf life of a couple weeks and that’s all the value that they’ll provide. Obviously there are exceptions but this holds true for most. They give you exact techniques to use. Do X at Y time and that’s about it. To remember techniques you actually have to do them and write them down. This isn’t to say that techniques don’t have value they certainly do though not as much as principles that allow you to use your own creativity and figure things out for yourself.
How It All Fits Together
There is a good example I’ve seen used to show how all of these things are supposed to fit together. I believe I saw it at a leadership conference in high school but it has been awhile so I can’t be certain. Anyways there was a man at a table with two containers. Outside each respective container was a large rock that barely fit in the top, a bag of smaller rocks, and then a bag of pebbles.
In the first container the man first emptied the bag of pebbles. Then the man emptied the bag of smaller rocks into the container, they barely fit. When the man went to put the big rock in there was no room for it. On the next container the man started with the big rock. It went in but took up a large portion of the container, almost the entire thing. Then he emptied the smaller rocks into the container and it looked like there was no room left. But then when he emptied the pebbles into the container they found their way through the cracks and fit into the bucket. All of the rocks fit because he started with the largest most important rock.
This was to teach us about priorities and how you have to address the big things first. But the same can be applied to what I have outlined here. Principles are most important and should be addressed first, followed by tactics, and then finally techniques. They all have a part to play in how we learn but we must make sure to address them in the right order for maximum effect.
Thanks for reading.