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Decision-making: Using Quicksilver to run long-term PMIs
Merlin Mann | Oct 26 2005
I've mentioned before how much I dig the PMI tool for helping to make decisions. In a nutshell, it's a granular way to quantify all the likely good and bad things about a given decision, as well as the implications of making the change.
Typically you'd do a PMI at a sitting within a tabular program like Excel, and that's probably still the easiest and fastest way. But let's say there are things you just want to ruminate on for an indeterminate amount of time--low-impact changes that would still benefit from a large data set. You might try what I've started doing with Quicksilver and the mighty "Append to text file" command.
Create your PMI text file
Add to your PMI
Now, just go about your business as usual. Work, sleep, juggle kittens, watch Deadwood, and let the world go by. But if over the next few days or months you suddenly think of a new factor that should weigh in your decision-making, adding it to your list is a doddle, using the now-famous append trick.
You can continue in this fashion forever or until you're ready to actually make your decision. At that point you can open up your PMI file and tally up the results. For longer PMIs, it's even easier to copy the contents and paste them into Excel (where ole Clippy is smart enough to read the
How and when this is a Good Thing
I still think PMIs might work best and have the most value when something is really actively on your mind--when the nervous energy of an imminent decision makes this such a perfect tool for fast capture and for untangling the spaghetti in your head.
But, on the other hand, a lot of our best stuff comes along when our mind is technically on something else. The intrinsic beauty of Quicksilver and a life in text files is that you have instant access to your files from anywhere with a bare minimum of modal change. On the day when freaking out about one thing gives you unexpected insight into another, appending from where you are can be a pretty cool hand.
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