I have a case here: suppose I have two hours to spend. What should I do with that time ? Should I use that time to work or to take a rest ?
I often face this kind of situation in my current study. At Wednesday I have a class at 2 pm that would end by 4 pm. But at 6.30 pm I would have another class. In such situation I have two options: staying in school or going home. Just for your information, it takes approximately 30 minutes for me to go home and another 30 minutes to go back to school for the evening class. If I stay in school I can use the school’s computer to work or browse the Internet, or I can simply sit there and read. If I go home, I can also work if I want, but I can also take a rest (for example by taking a nap).
Which one should I choose ? Logically speaking, of course I must stay in school, right ? Anyway, I would save a full one hour in traveling time, and one hour is a lot ! Why should I waste that one hour only for traveling (which is an activity with very low productivity) ?
Well, yes, I sometimes choose to stay in school so that I will have that extra one hour. But more often, I choose to go home. And I’m happy with that decision.
How can that be ?
It’s because of the difference between production and production capability, two terms used by Stephen Covey in his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Production is our ability to produce something (or in other words, our ability to do productive work), while production capability is our ability to maintain the level of production.
Now back to the case above. It’s true that I will have an extra an hour if I stay in school, but the catch is, my production capability would usually be low. That makes my extra one hour not so productive. Furthermore, I also feel tired in the evening class which decreases my learning productivity. On the other hand, if I go back and take a rest, I can recharge my production capability. I may lose the extra one hour, but I can then use the rest of my time effectively. In the evening class I can learn well with high spirit. The end result is I feel more productive though it means that I’ve “wasted” one hour !
I think this concept is very important to optimize our life. We must maintain the balance between production and production capability. Do not spend too much time on production until we forget to recharge our production capability. Activities we use to recharge production capability – like taking a rest, taking a vacation, etc – may seem unproductive in the beginning. But that’s actually the best thing we can do because it will significantly boost our productivity.