Getting deeper into the productivity space online over the last few months has opened my eyes to so much that greatly improves how much I get done, how organised I can be, and how far I have left to go.
Following Pareto’s principle, I’ve tried to focus on larger wins. For example, automating and delegating tasks at the higher end, to buying dozens of the same pairs of socks [I LOVE these] so I never have to spend time matching washing at the smaller end.
So much of what these experts preach can be useful, but I’m noticing a growing trend among people who optimise every aspect of their lives for efficiency is tallying the time savings over a lifetime. For example, I heard one author speak of the time saved by having more bins in the house so you’re never more than 2 seconds from one. Otherwise, it might take you 5 seconds to throw something away, which repeated 4-5 times over the course of a day and every day for the rest of your life, would add up to approximately 100 hours of time ‘wasted.’
These kinds of justifications are bizarre—for many reasons—but mostly because that time can’t be chunked or batched. It can’t be added up and cashed in — at least not in any meaningful way that doesn’t allow rubbish to pile up, using the previous example. That time saved can and will only ever be limited to the day upon which it takes place.
If we can agree on that premise, we can examine the effects secondary to the action. The amount of busywork generated in finding a solution to that problem, choosing and buying appropriate bins and liners, deciding where is optimal and aesthetic to place them, emptying and cleaning those bins (should you not have a housekeeper/cleaner)—I’d argue—will rarely outweigh the time saved, and that’s if we operate under the assumption that everything goes as planned in that workflow.
If we then grant that the time saved is greater than that which would go into creating this time-saving new workflow, but is also not transferrable or chunkable, we should then decide what can be done with the extra 15 seconds every day.
Granted, I’m sure if we optimised every non-obvious aspect of our lives in such a manner, we’d end up with an extra twenty minutes every day which might be useful if literally every other minute was already accounted for.
What it boils down to is—as with finances, health, relationships, and business—20% of your effort results in 80% of the results, and so it might just be more effective to cut down on your YouTube / Netflix / gaming time a little rather than over-optimise every other aspect of your life.
True wealth might just be waking up when you’re rested, working on what you love without time constraints, spending plenty of time with the people you love, and not obsessing over maximising every output in such a utilitarian way.