Friday, 29 April 2011

The relationship between effort and outcome.

I think that one of the main driving reasons people shy away from hard work is that the relationship between effort and work is non-linear. I'll give you an example.

Part of my workout is that I do half an hour on a rowing machine. Now rowing machines let you work as hard as you can, or go as slowly as you want. Now, if I were a lazier man, I think that in my half hour workout, I could put almost no effort in and manage to go about 5500m. I think I could do that easily and I'd not be short of breath at the end and I wouldn't even break a sweat. But what I tend to do, is go as hard as I can manage for the 30 minutes, and end up with a distance of about 7000m. (No laughing!)

What gets me here, is that although I am working approximately 100% harder, I am only seeing a 27% increase in the distance I go. This seems outrageously unfair.

Another example. If I do the bare minimum amount of work for a test (which I frequently do), as in attend most of the classes and get to the exam on time, I'll normally get about 60%. If I do a lot of work - I'll define this as 10 hours of studying - I'll manage 75%. So again, this huge increase in effort (10hrs compared to 0hrs) yields only a 25% increase in performance.

Obviously, if the extra effort meant a more significant improvement in results then I'd be more prepared to make the effort. But who said life was fair?



N.B. I was going to include a lovely sigmoid graph with this post, to illustrate my point, but making the graph turned out to be quite difficult (and it would only yield a small improvement in the quality of my blog post) so I decided to go for this picture of a fluffy bunny instead.

26 comments:

  1. Well, it's hard to say. I could just drop out of school and get a daytime job - I would miss five years of education and only lose about 40% of potential wages.

    So I would make a 100% lesser effort for a 40% decline: also I would be able to make a fair amount of money in the five years I would have been studying.

    But how would I _feel_ doing this? Terrible. Personal satisfaction comes from knowing you achieve something in life. You're not counting in the "happiness factor" here - in the communist regime of the soviet union, people still took higher educations even if they were paid the same as the proletariat.

    Just my two cents.
    Also + following your blog

    ReplyDelete
  2. I absolutely see your point and agree. I'm just having one of those days, lol. Nice new guitar btw!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Interesting point you made; i've never actually thought about just how unrewarding putting in a lot of hard work it. I'm one of those people who tend to do just a little bit more than the bare minimum ;>

    ReplyDelete
  4. Word, there isn't much more you can do other than go for it. It's worth it in the end.

    ReplyDelete
  5. But is it not worth putting in the extra effort? For every 4 workouts you do, you are doing 5 workouts at 5000m so you get an extra workout without having to do it, it spreads it out across the 4. That makes it worth it in my opinion. It's like a free workout.

    ReplyDelete
  6. fluffy bunny pics are always acceptable

    ReplyDelete
  7. Aww! What a cute little creature you have there.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I noticed this as well, especially with the studying. When I can achieve good enough grades by not really doing much, why should I work my ass off just to get a little better? But about the workout, I think the reason might be that it only seems like you work harder. In reality you row really hard until you almost collapse, then you slow down a bit, then you row hard again, and so forth. When rowing slowly you're keeping a steady pace throughout the workout, and end up doing almost as much as when working hard, because of your high average speed.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I completely understand in both fields, I always put more effort into the classes I have a hard time with, but to get the better outcome, I just have to bite the bullet and actually work until I understand the material, so for me I disregard the amount of effort. Same with working out, trying to calculate all the effort and calories burned as well as consumed is usually an estimate, but to really secure the outcome over effort there I always go the extra mile to ensure I lose the calories.

    I hope I made the slightest sense, I'm exhausted, I apologize.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I see your point man and gotta say that i completely agree.

    ReplyDelete
  11. TLDR :D jk :P but cute rabbit

    ReplyDelete
  12. Nice bunny :) when you think of it, it does make complete sense. However you have to look at it as, even if it is a small increase, its better than no increase ? for example your workout, it would make you feel better knowing you done 1500m more wouldn't it than having not put the effort in, either way i liked it!

    ReplyDelete
  13. That is one cute rabbit! And I totally agree with your point, it's just a shame really that it's something you can;t fully control.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Interesting read, fluffy bunny, what more can you ask for? ;)

    ReplyDelete
  15. never thought of it like that

    ReplyDelete
  16. i think you are right, everyone thinks efficiency is great i guess

    ReplyDelete
  17. Aw, that bunny is so cuteee :3

    ReplyDelete
  18. This two concepts come to my mind: Marxist Plusvalor and Diminishing marginal utility.

    ReplyDelete