Ramblings of a Tampa engineer
woman standing at beach beside shark signage
Photo by Lubo Minar / Unsplash

This weekend (December 15, 2018) I was driving towards Fort De Soto Park and saw the recent outcome of a car crash. It looked pretty bad as the back of a car was smashed and the other car was laying in the grass in not so good of shape.

A large semi truck was also pulled off on the side of the road so really no idea what happened, but it strangely reminded me of this idea of risk vs reward. My guess is that someone was doing something they shouldn't - whether that was speeding to arrive quicker or doing something on a phone. These are of course guesses, but led me to the same thought process of risk vs reward.

I can speed home at 80mph with cruise control, but I have to balance the risk vs reward. The risk in this case could be as bad as death or a pretty deadly crash. The reward in this case is getting home earlier. If you pair those together it doesn't seem like the risk is worth the reward.

So I wanted to give this theory of mine a test. I had plenty of tasks to do this weekend:

  • Take cardboard to recycle bin (across apartment complex)
  • Vacuum
  • Laundry
  • Wrap Christmas gifts
  • Empty dishwasher
  • Follow up with work email
  • Complete hobby project open pull request
  • Clean backpack (Dropped it in mud)
  • Buy light bulb, toothpaste & groceries

So I awoke at 6:02am today. I ate some breakfast and started my tasks, spending zero time on any distractions. I could parallelize some tasks and did so plenty of times. As the sun came up, I was down to just running the store errands and folding clothes.

At 9:43am I was done. Barely 4 hours of work and all my tasks were completed. If I examined that work through the lens of risk vs reward. I removed every risk I had, leaving just the reward. However, now it is 2:48pm and I've already programmed some hobby projects and played some video games. I can't workout or run due to my ongoing messed up back injury.

The remaining hours of the day (reward) don't feel as rewarding, because there is no risk balanced with them. The decision to play two rounds of a video game and then get back to work makes those two games more worth it. This perhaps is some irrational thinking, but I don't have a single task left today and yet I don't feel fulfilled doing whatever random reward I want.

Taking this post back to the sight that started it - I really wish people compared the risk vs reward before doing anything.

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