An opportunity cost requires you to give up doing one thing in favor of doing another.
“Opportunity cost” is a term I picked up in a college economics class, and it’s stuck with me ever since because the principle applies to every facet of our lives.
For the sake of this post, we’ll apply this directly to our writing.
When you are looking at what tasks to do during the day, it’s important to consider your Return on Investment (ROI) for each task you pick. There are things you absolutely have to do that yield little ROI as far as writing is concerned, such as spending time with your spouse and kids, making sure everyone is fed, tending to an illness or house repair, etc. (I’m a mom, and it’s up to me to make the meals, keep the house in shape, etc) So some things can’t and/or shouldn’t be avoided.
But today I’m talking about the things that aren’t necessary but take up valuable time. These are things that can wait. For example, you don’t have to clean up the living room right now. It can wait until you’re done writing. Another example, Facebook can be a time suck if you’re not careful. You start looking at timelines and pictures/videos, and the next thing you know, an entire hour has gone by. So Facebook is another thing that can wait (unless someone spams your timeline. Then delete that one immediately). But get out of that and start writing. Also, watching TV. Yes, TV is fun, but it should be after you’ve met your daily writing goal (unless you’re too sick to write).
A good thing exercise is to sit down and write out everything you need and want to do this week. Then separate these things into “needs” and “wants”. Writing is a “need” since this is our driving passion. Whether you are making money at this or not, I still consider writing a need because it emotionally balances most of us when we let the creative side of our minds play. Nothing relaxes me and centers me more than writing. So yes, writing definitely meets a “need” requirement.
After you’ve separated out your needs from your wants, list what needs to be done each day that week. Then list each item for each day in order of importance. Writing should be somewhere at the top. If you don’t put it there, time will slip away from you, and you’ll find your output decreasing. After you finish doing the things that need to be done, you can then work through your want list.
I’ll give you an example of my list for today.
Monday (needs): write your daily goal, grocery shop, call septic repair place, make dinner, make blog post for the April Blogging from A – Z Challenge (You’ll notice each thing takes a different amount of time, so I would make the call and grocery shop before doing the others. With a husband and four kids, I have to write on and off during an entire day since I can’t structure undisturbed writing time into my schedule, so I try to make my word count in one story, go to another task on the list, go back to writing, etc.)
Monday (wants): take kids to the park, watch TV with husband, watch You Tube videos to relax/learn more about marketing techniques, go to other authors’ blogs, take a walk (Obviously, TV and You Tube are at the very bottom. While I didn’t put my family in the today’s “need” category, I want to emphasize that as a weekly goal, it would be. I suggest making time for spouse and children for a couple hours at least a couple times a week.)
Your ROI will differ from mine, but I hope this at least gives you an idea of how to best maximize your opportunity cost.