The Return on Time

August 11, 2006 - Get free updates of new posts here

How much time a day do you spend reading blogs? 30-45 minutes

reading blogs

How much responding to emails? 2-3 hours

reading emails

Meeting with others? 2-4 hours


How much of your day is being productive?

I realized I waste WAY TOO much time reading blogs, emailing and not doing the things that count. I know I have to think long term but lately I am thinking about my return on time. Here is how the formula works:

Return on Time (ROT) = profit / time

The ROT is about getting you to think if what you are doing is the best use of your time. I spend all this time writing blog posts but sometimes I wonder how much I get out of it. Not to be too selfish but I wonder if even this is the best use of my time. How are you spending your time?

time slipping

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17 responses to “The Return on Time

  1. Noah Kagan Reply

    the one thing i didn’t write but i am really curious of is how can you save an extra 10 minutes a day.

    i unsubscribed from 50 blogs yesterday and decided i will check my email less. you?

  2. Devin Reply

    Don’t get me wrong, you’ve got a point. One I started realizing again. Hence my yopo post yesterday. If I schedule all my time appropriately then I really can’t wander off and waste time with blogs and stuff. I subscribe to 63 blogs and only get about 20-30 emails a day. That makes things easier..

  3. Bobby Reply

    I think about this all the time. Especially with my roommate who sleeps till 2PM every day. So your ROT is easy to measure with a normal job, but what about the entrepreneur that has a hand in a lot of things? How can you make sure that the return will be worth your time if you won’t see the return for months/years? Think about that!

  4. AdamD Reply

    I totally understand the issue and I have wondered the same thing. That said, your personal approach to blogging has set you apart from most others in my reader. It has always seemed like you took the “conversation” part of blogs seriously.

    (By the way, I dig the Reemerific posting style).

  5. kareem Reply

    THanks Adam… but what’s the Reemerific style? 🙂 I’m all over the map…

    I close Outlook / Gmail, IM, and my feed reader when I want to get work done. But I still spend too much time catching up on stuff instead of doing high-value work.

    There’s an interesting article here about how we live to reduce piles of stuff that need to be done… now we’re struggling with reducing the piles of stuff!

    Thanks for the post… it inspired me to unsubscribe from 15 low-value feeds.

  6. Adam Reply

    Dude I could spend all day reading blogs. I unsubscribed from all but about 20 a few weeks back and it helped. I try to only answer email once a day (either morning or night) and keep outlook closed the rest of the day.

    In the end though, as far as writing blog posts, it is definitely worth your time. The relationships you build through blogging are priceless in my mind. I recently had someone that reads my blog pass through town and we met for lunch, hit it off, and now I’m doing some freelance programming for his company and we’ll probably stay biz contacts for a long time. That right there made all the blog posts worth it.

    Anyway, keep up the good work, your blog is a great read.

  7. AdamD Reply

    The New Reemerific style uses lots of pictures. Sort of like Dr. Seuss without the rhymes.

    Eliminating distractions works well. So does time compression. I used to do this every day. I haven’t done it in months.

    Feed un-subscribing is something I do periodically. I wanted to write something that would use the NewsGator API to track the number of feeds I subscribe to over time, because I think it would be like a rollercoaster. I get on a kick of wanting to branch out and not read the same ol’ stuff, but then I get realistic and trim back. I’m at 116 now. This is probably too many for me, but I know that some people read many hundreds.

    Of course, if I wanted to be most productive, I wouldn’t check the box that subscribes me to new comments by email. 🙂

  8. Sérgio Rebelo Reply

    Sometimes, the ROT is not easy to value. You may be investing, losing some time now with little return, but one day, the bom explodes and you get a huge return of the past time. And sometimes nothing of that will happen and you’ve just lost time with no return. First of all you have to believe. You need to know what you are doing and why are you doing that? If you see a possible value at the present, it’s worth. I hate to look back and say, I wish I didn’t… I just don’t look back.

  9. ChenChen Reply

    Seems like you get plenty done despite spending so much time on blogs and emails. They are a big part of what you do. What would you be doing otherwise? By the way, I am way jealous of you Korea trip. Did you meet any hot Korean girls?

  10. jc Reply

    he is obviously not spending his time with his gf. in fact, he doesn’t even want to spare 10 or even 5 minutes to speak to his gf when he’s doing his emails and whatever else. Only when HE has the time, then his gf is “allowed” to speak to him and only then will his gf not feel guilty for just calling him. Guess he doesn’t think gf is giving enough ROI and he has higher hopes for a bigger ROI/ROT from blogging/chatting online/emails.

  11. Victoria Reply

    There’s a really really fine line that needs to be walked when trying to balance virtual versus real life relationships.

    It usually takes a ton of compromise to keep everyone happy/satisfied unless all parties have similar approaches/views as to how and why they communicate in FTF versus CMC.

    I myself have gotten a lot of slack from my boyfriend over the years about how much time I spend communicating with everyone EXCEPT him. It’s been four years now, and I think we understand each other’s needs a bit more. While it’s non-negotiable that I need my space and time to “do what I do” on the internet, I really have to make a concerted effort to be sensitive to his needs and carefully weigh out the plusses and minues of some of things that I spend time on to make sure that I’m not neglecting him by spending too much time on things that really aren’t necessary. Obviously, us not agreeing on what’s really necessary can be a problem, but it’s not so bad when we can manage to agree to disagree.

    Anyway, I wasn’t trying to go into my life story, but basically I just wanted to say that it takes A LOT of work to balance this stuff, and it’s worth sitting down and figuring out what you really want out of your relationships, whether they be online or off. If you really WANT to put in the work to sustain them, consider whether you really have the time or the energy to. If you don’t, it might be possible to MAKE the time. Eliminate the crap that all hands down you don’t need to be spending time on. Once that’s out of the way, if you’re still conflicted about things, then some serious reevaluation needs to happen.

    I know I was captain obvious, but whatever.

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