Saturday, October 20, 2007

Personal cost-benefit analysis

So, I'm going to put it out there that I pretty much do a personal cost-benefit analysis on nearly everything in my life in order to determine the appropriate path. It's not a spiritual, touchy-feely way of looking at things, but it is a highly logical, economical, and somewhat scientific process that comforts me when I am not sure I'm making the right choice.

Say, for instance, I am running late for work on a cold winter morning, bleary-eyed from having stayed up too late the night before, heading in for a full 8-hour day at the library. Question at hand: should I hit the Starbuck's drive-through lane for a mocha?

Cost: It will probably take an extra 3-5 minutes for my commute; I will be even later for work; it's about $4 for a mocha.

Benefit: I will have caffeine; I will have warmth for my hands for the rest of the drive; I will be happier having the mocha than not.

Decision: Stop at Starbucks.

Now, there are other factors involved, like how late I actually will be, and how cold it really is outside, and the state of my credit card bill that particular month, but, in general, I look at things this way.

So when my overall department supervisor asked if I wanted to keep working 30 hours a week, or go back to 25 hours a week in January, I told him I would have to "think about it." My reason: I'm planning to take two courses at a time starting in January in order to graduate in May 2009. I also told him I was hoping to reduce the number of days that I'd have to go to work in order to work my hours (I'm thinking two 8.5 hour days, and one 8 hour day, and then 4 days off a week). He asked if I had a tentative schedule.

Well, I do, but I can't reveal my hand at this stage, because I don't know if I'll get into the classes I want to take.

"No, I don't know my schedule until mid-November. I am at the mercy of my school schedule, and driving back and forth."

Then I said I was leaning toward 'no' for taking the extra hours permanently. But I told him I would do a cost-benefit analysis on it over the weekend. He gave me a look. I said, "That's how I look at everything." It's true.


Cost: Working 30 hours a week means I'm at the library at least 4 out of 7 days a week (less time for homework, people I love, etc.); I'm not getting promoted, so it's still no benefits, no extra responsibility for my resume, etc.

Benefit: On average, about $200 extra per month, which equals an extra $2,400 in 2008.

Other invisible costs: After working an 8 hour day, I am less likely to work on homework in the evening rather than just having an entire day free. Being at work more than four days a week feels like I'm there all the time, and honestly, this is a part-time job getting me through grad school, not my chosen career. I'm a library paraprofessional, and don't need the stress of being at work more than 3 or 4 days out of a week, especially not if I'm taking 6 graduate credits. My free time is valuable to me, and I am able to direct my time well when I have days off.

Decision: Going to tell my supervisor that (tentatively) I want to work Mondays and Tuesdays 9-6, and every other Friday/Saturday 8:15-4:45 (25 hours a week).

1 comment:

Simon said...

Sounds like a good decision to me. If nothing else, it's nice to know that your supervisor at least wants and welcomes your input. Plenty of bosses would just change your schedule and expect you to change with it, or show yourself the door.