An act of highest contribution

A common and guaranteed problem in the life of many smart people is “lack of time.” However, it is hard to believe that assertion when we think about the following (not the entire list, of course)

  • Recent movie “Hunger Games” grossed $68 million on the opening weekend. Somebody had to be watching that movie.
  • The video gaming industry took in $9.5B in 2007, $11.7Bin 2008 and $25.1B in 2010. Someone is playing more games.
  • According to Nielsen, Americans spent 53.5B minutes on FB in May 2011. Obviously, we all know that this was all not work-related (I say this because there are a lot of marketers too on FB who are capitalizing on others donating their valuable time to FB)

Now, add the TV shows and add places like Las Vegas and Atlantic City where people are engaged in other “productive” activities. Also, add the time spent on all the games available on people’s smart phones (e.g. Angry Birds)

We have only scratched the surface as we have not added other sites like Twitter, Google, Yahoo! etc.

The equation simply won’t add up and it would be hard to believe that people don’t have time.

In reality, most people have time but are overwhelmed with choices that will provide them instant gratification. When they are making a “good” choice, they are usually picking something from the available options in such a way that they pay a smaller price for the instant gratification they receive.

Most good things need a lot of investment before you enjoy the fruits of that labor.

  • You want to write a book? It takes anywhere from six months to a few years.
  • You want to paint a masterpiece? It takes days to months.
  • You want make a movie? It may take months or years.
  • You want to build a dream house? It will again take months to years.

You have a choice!

So, you have a choice –
a) To pick an activity that will rarely lead to instant gratification. An activity that nobody except you are interested in making it happen. The available options are all presented either by you or people that love and care for you. Note: These people that love and care for you may not be the best marketers
b) To pick an activity among an overwhelming number of choices presented by some of the best marketers out there luring you to engage with them so that you can get the instant gratification and with the price you pay for it, they can get the short and long-term benefit.

In summary, you have to almost climb a mountain of resistance every single day to even seriously look at choices that are meaningful to YOU. Most people fail to climb that mountain and perish. But hopefully, not you.

Daily entitlement for entertainment

How about you make a simple rule for yourself that you need to earn daily entitlement for entertainment every single day. And the way you earn that entitlement is to simply engage in an act of highest contribution based on your current capacity and available “time.” The entitlement cannot be carried forward to the next day – meaning you need to engage in an act of highest contribution every single day.

If you are really hard pressed for time, it could be as simple making someone’s day by sending them a really thoughtful thank you message for something they helped you with.

Or, if you are feeling generous, it could be to create and upload a training video on something related to your core expertise and help the world be a better place (Note: Hats off to Salman Khan of Khan Academy for setting very high standards on this)

At the least, you should earn that entitlement by engaging in an activity that will increase your capacity to make a bigger contribution tomorrow (or the day after)

All the best!

Photo Courtesy: Alan Cleaver onFlickr