Saturday, January 24, 2009

Time bargain

One thing I find myself doing pretty frequently is trying to make a decision between two options that forces me to put a happiness value on my time. While making lunch today I noticed a good example of this.

I have a George Foreman grill. It's pretty convenient, and I like the way that it prepares meat. The downside is that the cleanup is fairly annoying; you have to scrape the drippings off of the grill, which tends to send little flakes flying, which then need to be wiped off the counter. But, I found that if you clean it immediately after you take the food off, when the grill is still very hot, it's much easier (and of course more dangerous). There are no flakes of dried residue, and after the initial scrape the thing mostly just wipes clean. I'd say that cleaning it right after use cuts the cleaning time in half or better. I haven't burned myself yet (or really even come close), and I don't really know what the chances are.

The main downside to cleaning it early besides the risk of injury is that my food is cooling while I'm cleaning the grill. So, the satisfaction I receive from eating the meal I just prepared is reduced. My goal is to maximize my happiness. So, my two options are as follows:

Clean the grill immediately. If I do this, I save time, so I have a couple extra minutes to do something I'd rather do, such as play a game. The potential happiness I can get in that time is certainly greater than the potential happiness of eating a slightly warmer meal.

Clean the grill afterward. If I choose this option, I don't have a risk of burning myself, which increases my average happiness somewhat. I also get to eat a slightly warmer meal, but this is not as much happiness as I would get from a couple extra minutes of gaming or browsing the web, especially now that I'm eating healthy and therefore meals are even less exciting than they were before.

I decided that my best option is to clean the grill immediately. I find myself making these sorts of decisions pretty frequently now. It's not something I spent a lot of time on; I just make a snap decision in my head, and sometimes my current mood will produce a different outcome (today I cleaned the grill afterward). I generally try to weigh my options before I make decisions, even inconsequential ones, but it's more recently (the past few years) that I've really begun to factor in the value of my time.

Driving 80 minutes through traffic to see my ex was, though extremely obnoxious, still a good time bargain. I still don't see all of the time and energy spent on losing weight and getting healthy as a particularly great time bargain, but I decided (and posted) months ago that I was going to ignore my feelings on that and do it anyway, and see where it got me. Spending ten minutes blogging about time bargains is, perhaps, a wash. :)

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