Chess Improvement Techniques: How to Prioritize Projects for Optimal Growth

A modern-day problem is having way too many options and relatively little time. We can’t do it all. Be it in chess improvement, business, or hobbies.

So, our task is to filter out the things that are really worth our time and say no to everything else.

Today, I show you how to do this.

50+ Ways To Grow A Business

Last week, I took some time to strategize for the new year. I put together all the requests from readers for projects and brainstormed some more on my own.

The result? 50+ ways to grow NextLevelChess. Wow, that’s a lot.

I’m at my best when I focus on one big Project + the weekly newsletters or two smaller projects + the weekly newsletters. Guesstimating that a big project would take me around 3 months and two smaller ones 1 month, I decided to aim for 2 big projects (6 months) and 8-10 smaller projects (4-5 months) this year.

So my task was to find the 2 highest leverage bigger projects and 8-10 smaller projects I really absolutely want to work on in 2024. All the other projects might be cool, could have big potential and people would like them, but they need to be put aside for this year.

How To Choose From Many Projects

The first step is having a clear idea of where you want to go. As I explained in my article How to Find Your Chess North Star: What Are You Optimizing For?, there rarely are one-fits-all solutions. What one needs is a clear idea of what matters, be it in Business or personal Life.

Three things that come to mind for me:

  • Creating Evergreen Content
  • Having as big an impact as possible
  • Long-term vision with flexibility over my time

Thanks to those three overarching principles, some of the ideas can already be put aside without feeling bad. More 1:1 lessons or smaller seminars don’t fulfill my idea of having the biggest impact possible.

Projects with weekly appointments are also tough because of my Traumatic Brain injury. And quickly creating an opening course, which would probably sell greatly, does not fit because it is both short-term focused and not evergreen content.

Create Categories And Rate From 1-5

After sorting out some of the projects, I ranked the remaining ones on a scale from 1-5 in five different categories:

  • Short Term Potential
  • Long Term Potential (x2 as I prioritize this)
  • Time Investment
  • Flexibility
  • Enjoyment

Anything that was a 1 or 2 on the Enjoyment scale is a clear no-go. That’s when I decided to be much less active on Twitter (X) in 2024. I just don’t like what is going on there, and the interactions are usually superfluous.

Yes, having a great Twitter presence does help in the Chess world, but with so many projects on tab that I actually like, it doesn’t make sense for me to force myself to Tweet and read so much crap.

After ranking the ideas from 1-5 with doubled points for Long-Term Potential, I had 4 big projects and 14 smaller ideas left that were reasonably close in points.

Those are the projects I will focus on in the next 1.5-2 years. Now it simply was time to understand what fits my current situation best (with an US Trip coming up in April-June) and choose the big project I’m going to work on until March.

I will reveal what I chose to work on shortly. What I can say is that before I’m flying to Los Angeles, I will release another Video Course. And I’m really excited about it.

You Can Do Anything, But Not Everything

Having a clear idea on what I want to spend my time on these next 3 months helps me tremendously to stay focused and continue a project, even when I hit roadblocks along the way.

I can always go back to my process and see that I chose the project that fits my situation best. This avoids FOMO or the constant thoughts of “maybe I could squeeze in this or that”.

As so often is the case, the same principles apply in chess. You’ve got way more possible studying subjects & material than you can ever finish. Every time you say yes to something, you automatically say no to 100 other things. This can be very stressful if your saying yes is not a thougth through decision, but rather an emotional reaction.

Once you define what you are optimizing for and analyze different options, you can feel good about saying no to so many potential courses, books & chess study memberships.

Because you know you’ve considered joining them, but then went with the other option that fits your personal situation even better.

Choose What To Work On In Chess

If you want to go through the same process in Chess, use these Chess Improvement Techniques:

1) Define what you are optimizing for.

2) List all possible ideas for spending your limited time on chess.

3) Filter out what seems to not fit at all with your goals/values.

4) Define different factors that matter. As a professional, I nearly only valued long term improvement, time investment & financial investment. You can add other factors that really matter. It really depends on step #1.

5) Group together the top rankings and ask yourself “Does this feel right?”. If you come away with things that seem totally wrong, you need to change your parameters. If this feels right, pick one or two and get going. Write down your decision somewhere so you can convince yourself you are on the right path in hard moments.

That’s how you can choose what is really worth your time.

For all my dear NLT students reading this (or anyone coming up with a plan thanks to my ‘How to improve in 2024’ series), please don’t freak out and throw your plan out the window. If you have a plan right now and it seems to work (or was done so recently that it needs time), continue doing what you are doing.

If your priorities are growing as a person and a chess player, suggestions I make in this Newsletters, on my Blog or in my courses are great for you. I did the thinking of what is really worth your time for you.

Keep improving,

I firmly believe that

anyone can improve their chess through the right mindset and training techniques.

I’m here to guide you on your journey to chess mastery.

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