Friday, October 23, 2009

Opportunity Cost

It isn't that my work at UUCS actually takes all my time. I didn't spend over 15 hours working this week, even counting Sunday. The problem is that my focus and energy level are impacted by my outside activities. I spend a great deal of time thinking about things, even when I'm not supposed to be working. As a result, when I finally get some down time, it takes me a while to get down.

There is an economic term that is helpful in this respect: opportunity cost. Opportunity cost involves the road not taken (a fabulous poem by the way), and is defined as the next best alternative given up as the result of any decision. As a silly example, if you're trying to decide between eating Italian or Sushi, the restaurant not selected is the opportunity cost of the choice you make.

For me, opportunity cost is all that I would do, including doing nothing at all, if I had not decided to engage in work activity. Opportunity cost wouldn't be such a big deal if I were only giving up work hours. The problem is all the time, including recovery time, also sacrificed.

The conclusion I come to is that working is really expensive. Money is nice, but not at all adequate to compensate for the sheer inconvenience of giving up all of my next best alternatives. The only saving grace comes from whatever esteem and satisfaction I derive from the self-actualization of doing my craft. As long as I feel I am making a difference, the time is well spent. Otherwise....

All of this is to say that I chilled yesterday, blogging at will and writing some other pieces. Today requires a different level of engagement with laundry, vacuuming, general cleaning, and perhaps some kitchen work on the docket. It doesn't seem like chores. I had enough down time yesterday to be totally down with what today holds for me.

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