Knowledge and Time: Two Under-Invested Items in life

Lab Retreat in Phuket, Thailand
December 12, 2016
Accepted Papers for CHI 2017
December 13, 2016

Knowledge and Time: Two Under-Invested Items in life

by Shengdong Zhao

Knowledge is one important thing that worth’s your investment, and one of the easiest way to invest in knowledge is by reading quality books, watching quality videos, and talking to real experts. Spend at least 50 dollars on quality books each month. You will benefit from your investment tremendously in a long run. However, it’s important to watch out for quality. Quality here roughly means the information density measured in “the amount of new knowledge/page”. Every minute in your life is important, so spend it on well written books where you can learn the most in the least amount of time. It’s not that you can’t learn anything from a poorly written book. It’s just inefficient.

Don’t know which book/video/expert is good enough? Try a recommendation system. I personally found the New York times best sellers in the non-fiction category really useful. I have read many quality books using its recommendations. It’s not hard to know who is the expert. When you meet them, buy them lunch and try to spend time with them. In an hour of talk, you may learn things that cost you a year in school. It pays to be nice to them.

Another important thing that worth’s your investment is time. Money can’t buy your extra time, but it can optimise it. Before you do anything, think about its cost in “effective” time. If taking the bus means 1.5 hours of sitting there and doing nothing, then take a taxi instead to cut the ineffective time to .5 hours. On the other hand, if you can read a good book on the bus, then it’s effective time, and you can save the extra money for taking a taxi. Similarly, if a piece of software can shorten your work time of certain frequent task by 50%, it’s worth 50 dollars. Buy it!

We often spend so much money on things that doesn’t really matter, but forget to invest in knowledge and effective time. This is the mindset that needs to be changed if one wants to be more successful! Whenever possible, use your money to buy knowledge and time! It’s smart investment!

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