One of those things that we take for granted in our work as engineers is the concept of a ‘framework’.
Simply explained, a framework is ‘a basic structure underlying a system, concept, or text’ (Oxford dictionary). We have frameworks in architecture, software engineering, music, poetry, prose, politics, social science.
What we need are frameworks in our life. A lot of successful people have already credited their successes to mental frameworks that they have built along the way. A framework in our daily life is a rules based system that reduces slow decision making to quick actions that rely upon a combination of our values, past experiences, and our goals.
Just like engineering frameworks are extensible, so are personal frameworks — your framework for socially responsible personal products procurement could be extended to build an entirely new framework for building that new tech company you’ve always aspired for.
Frameworks are battle tested, and since they’re used so often, they are constantly refactored to be aligned with worldly externalities and our own status. Frameworks help in translating failures and blame-finding to internal process improvements and learnings.
How could you become more efficient and a better human through your use of great frameworks? You have to build your own. What works for anyone else will not work for you. It is also more fun and enriching to live your life your way and to aspire to be a role model for at least some other people.
How to get started
- Start small — focus on small things like behavior or body language
- Constantly find spots where you could apply your in-progress framework to improve your decision making
- Generalize so as to be able to arrive at logical conclusions with just a little substitution in events and locations
- Always focus on improvement
- Keep in mind that it is never finished
Once you get in the habit of building frameworks around decisions in your life, you will get better at time management and achieve much more than you ever did. All of us have the same 24 hours in a day, and the way to optimize those hours for mental and physical well-being is to get into the habit of isolating repetitive decision-making inside quicker, tested, and effective frameworks. Things like walking the same route, or eating the same food for breakfast daily, or wearing the same clothes everyday are basically frameworks that work for some people.
You’d think that frameworks would make you a predictable person, but no, it’s actually quite the opposite. Since you would be always learning and recalibrating your framework, you’d work on the basis of new information and experiences instead of some irrational belief that cannot be explained.
This has been my power for the last 6 years.