Monetisation, or Write A Limerick

6/10/2011 |

“Slow down and remember this: most things make no difference. Being busy is a form of laziness – lazy thinking and indiscriminate action.”

Ah, wise words from Tim Ferriss. And the point he is making is a good one. With our most precious resources – time and attention – we should be obsessively careful about how we spend them. The key is the impact generated versus the time spent.

I think a lot about the impact/time trade-off, and Tim Ferriss provides a useful prism through which we can look at our tasks. For example, if I have to make a series of business development calls that are very unlikely to lead to a sale, why would I bother making them at all? Even if they were very quick (low time impact), my time and attention would be better focussed elsewhere. No impact? Bin it.

Similarly, if I have a mega proposal to write – and it looks like it will take me three days from start to finish – even if I know that it will be well-received, why bother? If I can generate the same amount of “well-received” with a snappy, comprehensive, well-argued one-pager in forty minutes, why would I spend three days on it? Too much time? Bin it.

But there’s a third angle here, and that is monetisation. Say I am working on a task that requires very little time commitment, AND has a good chance of achieving a very high impact. Great, right? Well, only if I have monetised the activity. By which I mean that the vast proportion of the value created by my time and effort goes to me – or, at worst, my employer. If I have done a low-time-commitment, high-impact piece of work and my employer and I are no better off at the end of it, I might as well not have bothered. No monetisation? Bin it.

Don’t get me wrong; there are many activities I indulge in that are low impact and time-consuming and offer no economic pay-off of any kind – drumming along to Led Zep tracks, writing limericks, walking in the cemetery. These are all good, because they don’t come in a bag labelled “work”. My choice.

If you’re doing something that either has no impact or takes up a big chunk of your day, please stop. You’re wasting your time. And if you’re doing something that is low time commitment and high impact but is making someone else money – but not you or those that matter – REALLY please stop.

Go and write a limerick.



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