How to decide where to spend your energies

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COVID-19’s secret blessings: More talks are conducted online. Such talks, when held in person, are inaccessible in this part of the world. You no longer need to justify spending on conference tickets for fascinating topics like ethics in natural language processing. I definitely would have found it hard to go to Germany, but the ongoing Bucerius Legal Technology Essentials is now available online.

Thinking about the projects we invest our time in can be critical, especially if we have limited time and resources. In a recent talk with David Cambria on “Legal Operations from a Law Firm Perspective“, Mr Cambria pointed to an XKCD comic:

The graph is a bit cryptic at first, so bear with me. If you improve a task you perform every day by 5 seconds, the amount of work on the improvement should be no longer than 2 hours. The time spent improving stuff should not cost more than it is supposed to save. Spending too much time improving a task you don’t perform often is not worth it. Hopefully, the time you spend should pay itself back when you use it more.

As such, we now have two ways to think about how to spend time on your innovation projects. First, would your project make a positive impact? Second, now we should also think about whether the time spent is optimal. It’s a more practical barometer too!

I also like another chart presented at the talk which compared expectations of progress (usually enthusiastic and then fades off) with reality (bumpy, delayed and hardly guaranteed). If you are into innovation and change, and feeling down, these feelings are more reasonable than you might expect. [I will update this post with that chart once I get access!]

Hang in there!

Cover Photo by Eric Rothermel on Unsplash