Life as a series of A/B tests

The Concept

I am a software engineer, working for a social media company in Cambridge, MA. One of the things I learned working there is the concept of “A/B tests”. It is usually a term used in marketing, yet nowadays product development often applies this technique as well.

In short, we run an A/B test when we have different ways to approach a certain problem yet uncertain which would yield the best result. Then we try the different approaches and see which one is the winner (if any).

Then one day, “Why not apply the same concept to my daily life?” I thought.

At that time I was given more responsibilities at work (which I asked for) and started reading books on efficiency and self-development. I was facing a problem and needed to find the best approach.

How can I accomplish what I have been wanting to accomplish (engineering & management responsibilities, to start) with the utmost productivity? I had quite a collection of things I could try from the books. What a fitting use case!

The Process

So I went on conducting the A/B tests:

  1. Identify a very specific pain point, e.g. always distracted by emails/notifications
  2. Determine a possible solution that I have never tried, e.g. turn off all notifications on phone and email app
  3. Run the test for a day to a week
  4. Reflect and evaluate the result: “Has the situation improved?” If no, go back to step 2 and find another approach. If yes, convert it to 2 new tests: “How can I achieve even better result?” and “How to make it a habit of mine?”

When I came up with these steps, my inner software engineer was totally nerding-out because “I’m programing a workflow of my life!”

The Results

Once I started actually running the tests, I realized that the process itself was also a test, and it had yielded great results:

  • Remember the thrill and excitement when you get a new video game or gadget or just any Amazon package? Conducting the tests means always coming up with new ideas and putting them in practice. Thrill and excitement /all the time/.
  • I developed the habit of daily and weekly reflections, during which I replay the day/week to evaluate the test results, and identify new pain points for new tests. I tried not to use the word “diary” because I hated it, yet writing diary turned out to be one of my successful tests 😉.
  • I’ve become more conscious of my state, both physical and mental, both at work and after work. I started viewing myself a product of my own, and striving to make everything I do a positive iteration on improving the product.

Unsurprisingly this blog is also a test of mine. Productivity is my passion and choice of topic, and I intend to write about all the resulting habits / behaviors / processes from my various tests. If this blog ends up helping you in some way, it would be a success.

So, are you ready to put your life into tests?

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