It was a Tuesday morning. I was at the gym as usual, but it wasn’t the usual scene. The same people were there, but we were all acting differently. Instead of working out on machines and with free weights most of the people were just standing watching the TV. The TV was showing the final drive of the College Football Championship from the night before, and because we had gotten up around 5am to be there, we missed the end of the game. Interestingly, we all cared about the game and wanted to watch the reply, but we had not cared enough the night before to mess up our schedule for the next day.

Rewind to Monday night. I knew I had a decision, stay up and watch the game everyone would be talking about for the next few weeks (or years perhaps) and tank my productivity for the following day. Or, go to bed, miss the game, and catch the highlights later. Everyone in the gym at that early hour had made the same decision I had, trade a great game for the opportunity to be productive tomorrow.

Each day we make these kinds of decisions, though they are not usually as obvious. Daily I trade TV time for sleep so that I can get up early the next day. I trade time alone to spend time with my wife. I trade time pursuing a hobby for the best hobby ever (parenting). And sometimes, I trade productivity for sleep, a sweet tooth for health or the next day’s productivity for a night out with friends.

Some trade-offs are worth it. Some are not. Every day we have to decide which is which.

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