The Opportunity Cost of Working Hard

When you’re working, you’re not out seeing a new city. You’re stuck in a room, probably at a computer, churning away.

When you’re working, you’re not out meeting new people. You’re stuck with your coworkers, or possibly no one at all.

When you’re working, you’re not out in the sun enjoying the weather and the nature around you. You’re stuck inside under lights, probably flourescent ones.

When you’re working, you’re not doing physical activity, strengthening yourself and making yourself more healthy. You’re sitting still, typing.

There are a million other good things you’re not doing while you work. Work, when executed at a high level anyway, is all consuming. It prevents you from doing things you want to do and things you should do. There’s a huge opportunity cost to working.

So when you do work, make it count. If you’re slacking, or doing busy work, or allowing yourself to become distracted, or preventing yourself from giving it 100% in any other way, you are cheating yourself. Literally, you’re cheating yourself. You’re trading some really good stuff for not much at all.

On the other hand, really good creative work that has you fully engaged, and results in your producing something of value for the world, is one of the greatest daily achievements someone can have. You give up a lot for it, but good things are expensive. It’s a fair trade.

So next time you sit down at your desk to work, think about the things you’re not doing, and decide whether you’re going to make it worth it or not.


I’m heading out to Japan super early in the morning tomorrow. On April 6th I’ll be having a Tokyo Meetup with Leo Babauta, Nick Gray, and possibly one other special guest. If you’re in the area, please come say hi. Info is here.

On that note– I’ve scheduled the next three posts after this. I’m taking a week long trip around Japan with nine friends, so I’ll probably be really bad about replying to comments.

Photo is me in Wuyi, China. All I can say is that it’s a good thing I’m about to go on another trip and take a bunch of pictures!

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