1 Year of Blogging in Review

Hi everyone! This month marks one year in the books for my website. I figured now would be a good time to do a 1 year review and find out how things are going. I’ll start off by giving myself a failing grade on the use of SMART goals. That will have to get corrected this year. Since I’m a numbers guys I’ll start off with the easily quantifiable metrics and move on to the to the more touchy feely aspects of my blog. So without knowing whether I’m doing good or bad here are the numbers through today.

Unique Users: 997

Pageviews: 3319

Not a whole lot of pageviews or visitors here, but I think I do have an impact on the ones that are visiting. My goal for next year is to at least maintain this amount.

Posts: 27 (That includes this one)

This works out to just over 2 posts a week. I started out pretty hot on the blog and in the second half of the year faded quite a bit. I don’t foresee myself being able to complete as many posts this coming year. My goal here is to post 15 posts by next year.

Expenses: $35

Start up costs on a blog are relatively low. This amount even includes a book I gave away to help promote the site. Hosting for the first year worked out to about $1 a month and owning the domain cost me about $1 a month also. Next year costs will rise. I’m anticipating costs to be about $55 for the coming year.

Revenue: More than $35

I was able to turn a profit during the year. The vast majority of my revenue was generated thanks to the the link just off to the right of this text. My link to Amazon continues slowly pulling in revenue. I continue to think blogging is an excellent business opportunity. Success in this category is only to stay profitable.

My LED light bulb post lead to my most sold product. If you still don’t have LED light bulbs now is the second best time to get them. The best time was when the post originally ran.

Most popular posts:

#1

The One Credit Card Everyone Should Have

#2

Roth IRA vs. Traditional IRA

#3

Why 2% is Such a Big Number

These posts are definitely winners. Interestingly enough my about page is more popular than my number 2 most popular post. I’ll have to spend some more time on it to make it a little nicer. Visitors to my site spend way more time on my about page than any other page as well.

That concludes the numbers part of the show. Now on to the qualitative part of my review.

Did I learn anything?

I started out this blog thinking I would learn more about finance, which is a topic I’m greatly interested in. It turns out I knew a lot of about personal finance and I didn’t really learn much about personal finance through these posts. What I did learn is how to get a website started. I’ve learned how to create content. Practicing my writing skills has probably been the biggest benefit to me through this blog.

Have I achieved my mission of making the world a more efficient place?

This is the purpose of the blog and on a small scale I do think I’ve helped people lead a more efficient life. The jury is still out on whether this is the most effective way to make the world a more efficient place. I do think this method scales much better than the alternatives.

Several blog posts have been topics of discussion with friends and family. My post regarding optimal parking strategies spurred several discussions. My work place even required back in parking several months after I published the post. I doubt my blog had anything to do with it, but it felt like a move in the right direction.

What would you like to see on this blog that would make the world a more efficient place? Let me know in the comments.

 

Origins of the SMART Goals

In a previous post I talked about setting SMART goals to help you achieve better efficiency in your life. Today I’m going to talk about where your SMART goals should come from and a framework for the rest of this blog. SMART Goals stem from an organization or person’s mission, vision, or values.

Mission statements, vision statements, and values are typically used by organizations to establish where the company is heading and to determine why the organization exists in the first place. Missions, visions, and values are established for the organization to use as a guidepost. If you aren’t familiar with the difference between mission statements, vision statements, and values here is a quick summary:

Mission Statement: Describes what the organization or you do.

Vision Statement: Describes how the organization or you see the future.

Values: A judgement of what is important.

Mission statements, vision statements, and values establish a purpose and provide a foundation through which an organization or you function.  Once a mission statement, vision statement, or a value is established one can determine how to proceed.

You can think of mission statements, vision statements, and value statements as forming the base of a pyramid.  From the base of the pyramid goals, strategy, and then tactics emerge. Pyramid

 

Goals are your desired result. Strategy is a plan designed to achieve one of your established goals.  Tactics are a specific action you are taking as part of your larger strategy

You must “climb” the pyramid in the hopes of obtaining a successful result.  Although there is only one mission statement, vision statement, and set of values that form the basis for what you do, there can be an unlimited amount of goals, strategies and tactics that are derived from your base. Here is an example of how the pyramid can be used:

Mission, Vision, or Value: One of my values is efficiency.

Goal: My SMART Goal is to efficiently save X dollars for retirement by a certain date

Strategy: One of my strategies for saving X dollars for retirement will be to reduce my overall tax liability.

Tactics: One of my tactics to reduce my overall tax liability will be to use my company 401(k).

In my future posts I’ll be getting into the trenches and discussing strategies and tactics you can use to improve your efficiency.

Do you have a personal mission statement, vision statement, or set of values? I would love to hear about it in the comments below.

The Three Inputs to Efficiency

Earlier this week I talked about goals or the outputs of the efficiency equation.  This post I will be talking about the inputs to the efficiency equation. There are two ways you improve efficiency over time: (1) to get more outputs with the same inputs and (2) to get the same outputs with less inputs.

Anything you do can be considered an input; thus, there are infinite inputs that can be examined. For the purpose of simplicity I’m going to categorize all inputs as either Time, Capital (Money), or Skill.  Inputs within each category have their limits.  For instance, there is only so much time, money, or skill an individual possesses.

Time: Every single person has 1,440 minutes to use every day. The people who make the best use of those limited minutes will reach their goals more easily than those who choose to waste that valuable time.

Capital: Unless you are like my hero Warren Buffet, you also have a limited amount of capital and money to deploy towards reaching your goals. Making sure that each dollar you have works as hard for you as you do for it is important to making your life efficient.

Skill: Skills are knowledge, techniques, or abilities we use to achieve our goals. We learn to use skills starting at a very young age. Supply and demand will determine how valuable your skills are in the open market. The more difficult and rarer your skills are the most valuable they will likely be.

I should also mention that these inputs are all linked to each other. TriangleYou can use money to buy additional time or skills. You can use your skills and time to earn capital. When evaluating whether you are becoming more efficient you need to look at the whole picture and not just one aspect. For example, if I want to reduce the amount of time it takes me to mow my lawn I could just hire a lawn maintenance service and reduce my total time spent; however, I would be paying a bill for the service, ignoring the money and capital aspect of inputs equation.

Don’t forget I’m giving away one copy of “The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement” to a randomly selected subscriber to my website. You have to be registered by 8 pm PST on Sunday to be eligible for the drawing. Add your name and email off to the right to be entered.

What are you going to make efficient?

In my last post I talked about how the measure of efficiency is a simple idea. The equation for efficiency is a measure of the outputs divided by the inputs. During this post I’m going to explore how we should look at the outputs of the efficiency equation in terms of goals.

Before I started my MBA I read a book called “The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement” by Eliyahu M. Goldratt. This book changed the The goalway I thought about life. Without ruining the book for you, I will just say that the main character learns that having the correct goal is far more beneficial than improving any single metric at the factory he works at. Without a consistent goal to work towards, our efforts become scattered and fragmented. After reading the book I realized that without an overarching goal we are just wandering about aimlessly.

Goals provide a target for achievement, or something to work towards.  In the efficiency equation your goals are the same as your outputs.  As goals are the end product for efficiency, it is important to think about and set valuable goals. So how can we make these goals the best they can be? I like to use and would recommend using SMART goals. When you set SMART goals you really need to think the process through to get the most out of it.

Specific – Goals need to be as specific and detailed as possible.

Measurable – This is how you will know your goal has been accomplished. I think this is the most important part and often one of the most difficult. There will be more on this topic later.

Achievable – Is it realistic that you can actually do this?

Relevant – Is this goal worth doing?

Time-bound – When do I expect to accomplish this goal? What is a realistic time frame?

I will be giving away a copy of “The Goal” to one randomly selected email subscriber of my website. The cut off to subscribe will be this Sunday (6/12/16) at 8 pm. Don’t miss this chance to get an incredible book. Just add your email in the right hand side of this post. If you are in the Elko area and don’t win send me a message and I will let you borrow my copy of the book.

Meet Matt Warnert

Hi Everyone, if we haven’t met my name is Matt Warnert.  I live in Elko, Nevada with my wife, soon to be one-year-old daughter, needy but lovable dog, and very elderly cat.  I am a professional chemical engineer and project manager.  I work at a gold mine currently managing large capital projects.  I also have been involved with ore processing and gold recovery.  I am currently in my last semester of graduate school for my executive MBA.

As you read this blog you are going to learn about efficiency.  Efficiency is something I think about on a daily basis and I want to change how you think about every interaction you have with the world and wonder how it could go better. The simple definition of efficiency is really just a measure of how much output you get for a given amount of input at a single point in time. The idea is generally used in engineering settings to benchmark certain processes, but it also has applications across everything we do. I know efficiency sounds like a pretty mundane and boring term engineers use to describe how well something is working, but if you make conscious decisions to improve efficiency, over time the compounding effects can have a dramatic impact on everything you do.

Knowing how efficiently something is running at a single point in time is a meaningless number unless you have context to the situation. That is why it is very important that you measure and understand how efficient you currently are and periodically review that to see if you improving over time.

I intend to cover ways to improve your efficiency in the use of your time, capital, and skills. In some way, shape, or form everyone has at least one item on that list they want to do better at. By using a systematic and structured approach to efficiency improvement everyone can lead a life that more like the ideal one they envision.

Please subscribe to my blog on the right hand side of this page and help make the world a more efficient place.