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Discussion Forum > Opportunity Cost

Yet another thing to consider when choosing what to do.

By choosing this, am I losing the opportunity to do something even more valuable? If so, what?

Logically, that should give the same results as, "What high-value thing should I do?"

It feels different, though, to think of it as losing an opportunity, rather than choosing what to invest my time in.
May 24, 2017 at 21:45 | Registered CommenterCricket

I have a problem with this.

To illustrate, if you are working on a high value project which should bring in £50,000 and you come across another project which you estimate would bring in £100,000 what do you do?

A. Work on both projects in the hope that you'll earn £150,000? ~This is known as chasing two rabbits.

B. Ditch the first project and switch to the second. This is known as the grass is always greener.

C. Refuse to be distracted and continue working on the first project until it is successfully completed.

In case you are wondering, the correct answer is C.
May 24, 2017 at 23:14 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
Don't know whether this applies exactly to Cricket's situation or not, but ran across the following post on the benefits of selecting "and" rather than "or."

His conclusion: "In each case, the “and” mindset lets my mind get out of the way of itself. “And” imposes less friction between ideas and actions."

I think I've let many very good opportunities slip through my fingers in my life by waiting/hoping/looking for an even better opportunity. I think the answer, for me, is to "make many pots" rather than "make the best pot ever."
May 25, 2017 at 14:58 | Unregistered CommenterMike Brown
Your answers assume we're already doing something of reasonable value, or we spend too long looking for something else.

If I'm about to start an hour of FaceBook, then, yes, I probably am losing the opportunity to do something of higher value. Checking my todo list is a good use of the next few minutes.

On the other hand, if I'm about to start an hour of housework, then odds are pretty low that I could be doing something of higher value. It's not worth the time to check my list.

Time spent researching is time you aren't doing something else.

Looking at Mark's choices:

A. Work on both projects. Neither of us believe in multi-tasking, so this isn't an option. If there's time for both, great, but otherwise, you have to chose.

B. Switch. We need more than dollar value to decide. If the current one is more likely to pay (which I think Mark was getting at), that tips the scale towards staying, even though the dollar value is lower. There might other points, though, such as time to completion, new customer, and exposure, which might tip the scales the other way. And points such as breaking a contract and losing reputation to tip the scales back.

C. Always choosing the current project is the Sunk Cost Fallacy. The investment you already made is gone, whether you change projects or not. We need more information than total income to decide.

Again, time spent researching is time you aren't spending doing something else.

If there isn't time to do any research, stick with the known, guaranteed option.

If there is time to research, don't waste it. Focus on the big question: Is it worth switching?

Is the grass really greener? No. End of research. Yes, in the front, but not in the back. End of research.

Why is it greener? The septic tank leaks. End of research. Or, Fertilizer. That might be better than moving. The first estimate you get for fertilizer is $100. The first estimate for moving is $5000. No more time researching moving companies. Now to decide if it's worth $100 and an hour of work.

Waiting/hoping/looking for an even better opportunity rarely works. It's usually better to improve the one you have, or find what you need to do to get more opportunities.

I can see why And thinking stops analysis paralysis, but it can be over-used. If you store notes in two different places, you have to learn two different systems (each time they move the buttons around), have two accounts to back up, and have to look in two different places. And, as Mark pointed out, if you try to do too many major projects at once, you probably won't do a good job of either.

On the other hand, sometimes using both for a short time helps you learn which is the better choice, or different situations call for different solutions. I use paper for meeting notes, since I can't type on the tablet and pay attention to the speaker at the same time. It's rarely worth scanning them to EverNote, so I keep paper files. I use the computer and EverNote for notes I create at home, and articles I want to keep for reference.
May 26, 2017 at 1:17 | Registered CommenterCricket