My Brain is So Smart It’s Stupid, Part 2

In the last article, I talked about how my brain has a panache for disposing of useful or important information. (click here to read it)

Then, and this is where perfectionism comes in, when I need it, I can’t remember the info in its exact correctness. 

The result is I either put off doing something because I know it’ll take too long to go find the exact information I need. Or, I go searching for the details and the delay derails momentum.

I’ve come up with my own 2 step system for dealing with this. And, as promised, I’m going to share it with you now. 

Step 1: Generalize the info.

This hurts in the perfectionism department and is the compromise. You’re giving up accuracy in exchange for being rememberable. 

When it comes to figures, round to the closest memorable number.

Step 2: Tie the generalized info to a binary action.

What does binary action mean? You’re either going to do something or not. It’s yes or no. On or off. One or zero.

These steps are best demonstrated with an example. Let’s use the landing page conversion statistics from last week.

Here are the specific statistics for e-commerce conversions. The most recent data tells us that:

  • The average landing page converts at around 2.35%. 
  • The sites in the top 25% convert at 5.31% and above.
  • And landing pages in the top 10% convert at 11.45% and up.

Now, let’s apply step 1 to these statistics and generalize. 

Let’s say I’m using these numbers to analyze my or someone else’s conversion rates. First, I’m going to simplify it to only the top two numbers and forget about the “average” statistic. (Because, after all, if you’re only pulling average then something needs improved.) 

  • Landing pages in the top 25% convert at 5.31% and above.
  • Landing pages in the top 10% convert at 11.45% and above.

Now, I’m going to round to the closest memorable number. Which means 5.31% becomes 5%, and 11.45% becomes 10%.

All I have to remember is 5% and 10%. 

But what do those numbers mean?

I don’t know, or won’t be able to remember, until I do step 2. Tie the generalized info to a binary action.

Let’s work from the top down with a focus on growth.

  • If the landing page is converting at 10% or better, stop optimizing. It’s only going to improve marginally and my time is probably best spent elsewhere.
  • Conversion between 5%-10% is good. Optimize until it’s over 10%.
  • Conversion of 5% or less, get help. There’s large room for improvement, so either study up or bring in an expert. 

Is it a perfect system? Not at all. It definitely has some inherent flaws. But in exchange for those flaws, I get two things. 

1.     It helps me remember things in a usable format.

2.     It helps me move quickly through decision making.

This brain “hack” won’t work for everyone. But if it does work for you, let me know. 

Or better yet, share what “hacks” and systems you use.

– Zac Smith, VC