Are you wasting your time being productive?

Most people think that wasting time means you’re not doing anything. Maybe they include not doing anything productive. But can you be doing something productive and still wasting time?

To answer the question, let’s go back several years to a time before optical mice were common. I was working the helpdesk at a law firm. I got a call from an attorney that his cursor was skipping around the screen erratically. It was pretty obvious from his description that there was gunk in his mouse.

I had just started explaining to him how to remove the mouse ball to clean it out, when my supervisor tapped me on the shoulder and told me to bring him up a new mouse. I said, “But it only takes five minutes to clean it out.”

She told me, “He bills $600 an hour. Bring him a new mouse.”

I didn’t know the term at the time, but she had just taught me a lesson in opportunity cost. If whatever you’re doing is less valuable than what you could be working on instead, you are wasting time.