Efficiency 101: Is It A Value Add?

Our days are packed full of so many activities and tasks and obligations.  Since our planet shows no likelihood of suddenly morphing to a thirty-six hour day, and since most of us don’t get enough sleep to begin with and can’t cut out any more, in order to find more time for things, you have to take a look at all those activities and tasks and obligations and ask yourself this:

Am I getting something of value out of doing this?

Now there are things we do because we have to, even though we don’t want to.

  • Evil Day Job.  I’m not getting in any way emotionally or intellectually fulfilled by this, but I am getting a paycheck that enables me to pay my bills.  So there’s the value add.
  • I’m not what you’d call ecstatic about doing laundry every week, but I get the benefit of clean clothes.  Value add.
  • Menu-planning.  Sometimes my brain just doesn’t want to work on it, but it enables me to remember to use up the groceries I’ve bought before they spoil and keep my nutrition and calories under control.

But let’s talk about the things we do because we kinda sorta want to that may just be dragging us down.

  • Reading blogs.  Now as writers this is something we are encouraged to do.  Read and comment thoughtfully on other people’s blogs.  And no question, this CAN be a great thing to do.  My comments on Kristen Lamb’s blog is how my agent, the Magnificent Laurie McLean, found me.  But there’s a fine line between useful and time-suck.  I used to subscribe to a zillion (very technical number there) blogs.  My RSS feed reader was crazy full.  And eventually, it got to the point where I was barely skimming all these posts, and even ultimately would just mark all as read without even looking.  Because I was, for a while there, spending MORE THAN AN HOUR a day reading blogs.  And you know what I figured out?  For every diamond in the ruff, awesome post I read, there were 30 others that were rehashing the same old same old.  That was not a value add.  Ultimately I got rid of my feed reader, subscribed to about 5 friends’ blogs via email, and began to rely on my huge Twitter community to tell me about those diamond in the ruff posts.
  • Watching TV.  Now I am the first to admit that there are a lot of shows I adore and love.  Bones.  NCIS.  Royal Pains.  In Plain Sight.  Leverage.  These are part of my evening routine and the time I spend with hubs.  There are other shows I also love that he doesn’t really care about.  Know what?  I mostly don’t watch those.  They are, for the most part, just a reason to turn off my brain.  And while that’s a good thing to a point, usually they are distracting from other things I really need to be doing–like writing.
  • Magazines.  I have a lot of magazines.  Cooking magazines in particular.  Taste of Home.  Simple and Delicious.  Southern Living.  Cooking Light.  I love them because I love food and I’m always looking for new stuff to try.  These I can flip through pretty quickly, tagging the recipes I want to try.  But I used to have a bunch of other magazines.  The kind you actually read cover to cover.  I wound up letting all those subscriptions lapse because half the time they just wound up sitting around collecting dust.  They were not a value add for the time they took up.

Everybody has their own list of stuff that takes time.  PTA.  Being troop leader.  Some committee or other.  It’s time to go through your list of whatever it is and decide whether you’re really getting anything of value out of the activity.  If you’re not, axe it.

9 thoughts on “Efficiency 101: Is It A Value Add?

  1. I’ve bee reluctantly trimming the fat over the past few months. I say reluctantly b/c when I started on these activities I got a lot out of them. When I started feeling overwhelmed at keeping them up and not feeling that same greatness I knew it was time. It is now time however to axe with purpose, my writing is still not happening regularlly, and my book is never going to be finished!! Thanks for the bit of inspiration 🙂

  2. Thought-provoking post, Kait. A lot depends on where one is on the journey; I’m finding that I am visiting a lot of blogs, not only as a ROW80 sponsor, but because I’m only beginning to establish that community–so it’s value added for me. However, I certainly hear you, and think that there may come a time where one pares away. Evil day job, ha ha; you’re spot on with that one!

  3. Great post, Kait. So many things out there can be a time suck. I do spend a fair amount of time on blogs, but like Nancy, I’m just establishing myself, so it’s a value. TV is my big one. I should do more writing at night, but by the time Grace is in bed, I just want to stare at the tv and do nothing.

  4. Great advice, Kait. This is something I need to do. It’s the same syndrome kids get between filling their plates with food and realizing their stomach doesn’t match in size.

    A diamond post.

  5. Cut myself down to only a few blogs a while back, and until Teen Wolf came along, I’d given up on TV altogether. But I still have to juggle writing, editing, promotions, and personal blogging with guitar practice, gardening, and gaming.

    Obviously, it helps that I’m a lifelong insomniac. 😀

    But yeah, at certain points I think we all pick up so many things we feel obligated to complete that we can’t get around to all of it. Then we have to streamline or risk always falling behind.

  6. One of my biggest time consumers is doing stuff for other people when I really don’t have time. I find myself volunteering or offering help when I ought to keep my mouth shut. Then there’s one situation where a couple of friends of mine suggested someone get in touch with me and I feel like I’ve been taken advantage of by that person, doing things for free that I should be charging for. But I’m just a sucker for people needing help. I don’t mind doing things for close friends, but I need to learn to say no to other people…at least part of the time.

  7. Kait you are so right. There comes a time when you have to say no to some things and yes to others. I would love to have the time and ability to do all the things I need to do and love to do. As a writer with a demanding day job something has always got to give. This summer with my step kids here and my role as care taker has pushed me into gear to figure out what is working and what isn’t.

  8. I can relate to so much of what you’ve said. Right now, as I build my author platform, I often feel that I spend too much time on social media. And maybe I do.

    One of my great loves is researching random crud (usually supernatural or true crime) online. I’ve been turning these into blog posts. It’s win-win. The research is something I love to do, and I have posts for my blog.

    Thanks for the great thoughts. As usual, you made me think.

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