Can You Use the Principle of Least Regret to Choose Where to Spend Your Time?

Do you ever feel pulled in a gazillion directions? I’m having one of those months. All kinds of problems and events are pulling me away from my regular work. As a result, I don’t feel as if I’m creative or productive—or effective. At all.

I looked at where I’m spending my time:

  • With family members going through happy events (and some small crises).
  • And with other people going through sad crises.
  • Finally getting new glasses. (That’s wonderful!)

So I’m spending time with other people and time on myself.

We are all worth it.

I’m still working in between all the interruptions. But not as much as I want. I’m actually doing a lot:

  • Writing a variety of posts, articles, newsletters.
  • Planning my offerings next year. (Next year is not that far off!!)
  • Following up with clients and potential clients.

In other words, while my life is not a disaster, I feel as if my time is much more fractured. These large and small crises pull me away from my normal days.

How can I decide where to spend my time?

I decide with the principle of least regret.

The Principle of Least Regret

The Principle of Least Regret is:

Regardless of what you decide, you’re satisfied with your decision.

I first learned about this from Weinberg’s Secrets of Consulting. I applied it to my fees as soon as I learned about it. (Once I realized how useful the principle was, I also help my clients apply it to the entire engagement.)

Here’s how I apply this principle to my life:

Will I regret spending time in these ways as opposed to my work:

  • Not spending time with people going through these crises? Absolutely, yes, I would regret that.
  • Not getting new glasses? Yes. I can barely see with my old glasses. (I’m being a little dramatic here, but I can’t wait until I get the new glasses!)

Right now, I’m choosing to be effective with the people in my life—including me. Not my work.

That’s because I suspect this: If I choose to optimize for work first, I would not be able to spend the time on work without worrying about the people anyway.

Instead of worrying, I choose to act to reduce my worries. That’s part of the least regret. I’ve been setting expectations with my clients so I can pay more attention to the people in my life.

How Do You Decide?

The more fractured my time becomes, the more I need to make conscious choices about what to do and what not to do. How can I be satisfied with any of my decisions?

I find that the Principle of Least Regret works well for me, to choose for now.

At some point, these various crises will be over. I’ll have my new glasses (and a fixed watch and everything else that’s broken). I won’t have to optimize for people—I can create more of a balanced life. But right now, my work/life balance is tipped very far to the people I love.

And that’s fine with me. We only get one life. We can rechoose how to live it every single day.

So, that’s the question of the week this week: Can you use the Principle of Least Regret to choose where to spend your time?

3 thoughts on “Can You Use the Principle of Least Regret to Choose Where to Spend Your Time?”

  1. Thank you, this comes just at the right time. I feel seen. I’ve had a similar month (I even got new glasses myself!) and have been struggling to be at peace with working much less that I would need to meet my (internal and external) commitments. I think the principle of least regret won’t change my choices (or should I say constraints) now but gives me a good perspective that I’m doing the right things.

  2. Pingback: Five Blogs – 22 October 2021 – 5blogs

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