The Diminishing Return of Tasks


At what point does a long list of tasks become counterproductive?

In economics, there is a concept called the point of diminishing returns. My Econ teacher explained it using the classroom as an example: if the 30 students were tasked with placing 60 chairs and 15 tables in the classroom, two students could do it faster than 1 student. Similarly, 6 students could do it faster than 3. But could 30 students do it faster than – say 10? Or 15? At some point, the students would bottleneck within the room and gridlock would ensue. They would get in each other’s way and not be effective. 

The concept occurs in our daily lives, as well. Think of our To Do list. 

We may have the very best intentions of doing everything on the To Do, but at some point, tasks start to compete for our attention, “everything” is a priority, therefore nothing is. The “most important” tasks are quickly buried by the tasks produced from the next meeting.

We must recognize our own diminishing return. What are the true priorities of the day? The week? The year?

At what point do our tasks lists resemble 30 students trying to set up 60 chairs and 15 tables?

Our tasks should support our goals; it should not be the goal to complete the tasks.

All the best,

-Shaun

P.S. For technical reasons, last week’s newsletter did not send properly. I wrote Everything about Everything. You can read it here.


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