Can You Get More Done Without Making Sacrifices? - Deepstash
Can You Get More Done Without Making Sacrifices?

Can You Get More Done Without Making Sacrifices?

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Can You Get More Done Without Making Sacrifices?

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Getting Better Without Getting Worse

In an economy, Pareto Optimal state when no further changes in the economy can make one person better off without at the same time making another worse off. Named after Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto , the idea simply refers to situations where you can (or can’t) improve something without trade-offs.

Consider designing a car where you care about speed and safety.

  1. You have one design that’s fast but dangerous.
  2. Another that is slow and safe.
  3. A third that both moves like a tortoise and has the tendency to spontaneously catch fire.

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Comparing Trades

How should you compare these three designs?

The third option is obviously worse than the first two - it's slow and dangerous. But between the other two is a question of values. Maybe a race car driver would prefer faster at the cost of some safety. Maybe the soccer mom wants safety over speed.

This is the idea of Pareto efficiency in a nutshell. A car design would be Pareto efficient if there’s no other design that allows you to get more speed or safety without getting less of the other.

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Efficiency Frontier

What if there are more designs than the presented three? Such possibilities exist in some situations, surely with habits and situations. Here, putting them all on a graph, we can see that any of the ones on the inside of the frontier are bad choices.

Why?

Because there’s always a car that’s somewhat faster or safer without making sacrifices. There must always be something better, an ideal possibility, regardless of it's application in reality.

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Patterns Of Trade

Efficient frontiers reveal a general pattern. When you’re below the frontier, you can always improve simply by optimizing your choice. You can make a better choice by just pick an option that has more of what you want.

When you’re on the frontier, however, the only way to make the situation better is by deliberately making something else worse.

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Productivity Frontier

Let's say you plot all your schedules and leisures in a graph, it shows all your productive possibilities, time allotment, and situations of good work and sudden work.

Now, is your situation is Pareto efficient?

If we’re below the frontier, improvements is needed. We might choose to get more done without increasing our hours. The focus should be on trying to shift to a less wasteful situation.

But if you're on the frontier, the way to improve is by accepting trade-offs. While pursuing an ambitious career move, accept that this has working nights and weekends.

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Innovating Changes

In engineering, new inventions promise faster and safer cars than what exist today. The frontier can shift.

In your work, there’s always the possibility of radical changes that might break the current frontier. Maybe you find a technique that lets you get much more done in less time than usual.

Innovating to push the frontier forward is good. But such radical improvements are much harder to come by than simply reorganizing among known alternatives.

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Are You On The Edge?

If you're on the frontier, here are a few guidelines

  • You’ve read and applied a lot of productivity advice, yoyre closer to the frontier and one who doesn’t even keep a to-do list is probably far from it.
  • When you look in your schedule, there aren’t a lot of things you could easily cut . If your day is full of activities you'd do more of, you’re on a frontier. If you find it with a lot of waste, there may be potential for easy wins.
  • Do efforts cause setbacks in other areas of life? When you pursued new ambitions and they came at a cost of important things, you’re closer to the frontier.

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Optimize Options

If you're far from edge, optimize. Treat each element in isolation and improve it.Want to improve your work? Just reorganize and get more done!

If you're on the productive frontier, improvement comes from trade-offs. Would you rather have a clean house or more time to work on your project?

Like whack-a-mole, investing more time in one thing, and losing time for another. You switch trying to get it all done.

Be explicit about trade-offs. Stop and think about what you really care about and what you’re not willing to sacrifice. And it releases you from the guilt of trying to do everything.

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