You and your organization are probably wasting a lot of time and energy doing things you shouldnt. With a few minutes, it shouldnt be too difficult to come up with a list. From what we know about specialization and trade, a little creative outsourcing and delegation make it easier for you and your organization to make more of your unique contributions while, at the same time, making it possible for others to make more of theirs. Can you pay someone $100 to do something that frees up time and energy you can use to earn $200? Do it. As Adam Smith wrote, It is the maxim of every prudent master of a family, neer to attempt to make at home what it will cost him more to make than to buy.
Smiths 18th-century wisdom applies today, where we enjoy an extensive division of labor and knowledge enabled by expanding markets. More and more frequently, the most efficient way for you to get something done is to throw money at the problem. Doing so allows you to concentrate your efforts on your unique contributions.
When we truck, barter, and exchange, we use knowledge we dont have to solve problems we no longer need to think about. We dont need to know the recipe for good pho and spring rolls, nor do we have to think about navigating traffic when we can enter an online order at noon for 5:45 PM delivery. We never have to think, Oh yeah, we need gas for the Terrafirminator, because someone else is taking care of it.
Obviously, we cant apply this unthinkingly to every situation. It isnt a recipe for mindlessness, nor is it an exhortation to sloth. If you enjoy cooking or have a higher goal in cooking (like eating healthier or teaching the kids how to prepare simple meals), then cookbut maybe not as much as you do now. Maybe youre with Hank Hill in asking Why would anyone do drugs when they could just mow a lawn?
If you (like me) think Hank Hill is crazy to say such a thing, then I encourage you to secure lawn care from someone who could use the income and concentrate, again, on your unique contribution. Perhaps youve heard someone say, Only do what only you can do. I suspect a lot of things on your to-do list dont fit that description. Get them done more efficiently by throwing money at them.
I thank David Schatz for his assistance with copyediting. I was inspired in part by this episode of The Productivity Show.