marisa morby

Investment is a funny thing

Investment is a funny thing. We’re basically putting something, money, time, whatever, into a little box and saying, “Hey, if I leave you here you’re going to grow and be even more tomorrow.” Technically, investment is “an act of devoting time, effort, or energy to a particular undertaking with the expectation of a worthwhile result.”

And this is such an odd line of reasoning because it requires us to make such so many mental leaps — from logically reasoning out the future, to imagining a future we haven’t seen, to calculating value and loss. So I always think it’s fascinating when I catch myself “investing” in anything.

Like yesterday. Yesterday, I went shopping for a new computer, a monitor, and a keyboard and mouse. These are all things I didn’t have previously, because at my previous company I had to return the computer I had. Plus I’d been working remote and just hadn’t bothered to pick up the external keyboard and mouse.

So, for the past 3 weeks, I’ve been working (yes actually doing work for money) on an iPad.

And y’all. Let me tell you, the iPad struggle is real. And it is not meant for the world of working. It’s really just a glorified phone with an amazing sketch tool. You want to do illustrations? Covered. Want to go to Pinterest and find all the pins of updated kitchens? Have at it. But a computer it is not.

I’d never fully appreciated my laptop prior to this. I typically had older laptops that worked just fine, and since I don’t do anything too intense on my computer beyond some design and code here and there, they’ve always worked out for me.

But trying to actually run projects on an iPad is tremendously difficult. Lots of apps aren’t supported, and the desktop version of the site doesn’t always look quite right. Not to mentioned the UI for a lot of sites are just wrong on an iPad.

So it got me thinking, I’m typically pretty nervous about spending money, and now that I’m doing consulting work again, that fear is even more real. Even though I tend to have a steady stream of work, the pay days are varied and come in larger sums since they’re typically on a project by project basis.

But I wanted to be better, faster (stronger?) for work. So I bit the bullet and got a computer.

Let me tell you. Productivity galore. I’ve done more in the last hour after setting my computer up then I think I did in 3 hours yesterday (yeah, it was Saturday) trying to work.

And that led me to another interesting thought. Maybe, by making my life easier with all these extra things that I don’t technically need … like being able to have larger text on a larger screen, being able to use two monitors, and having more of a dedicated work station where I’ve got access to all this, I think I’m going to be even more productive, and consequently have even more clients. I’m interested to see how this plays out because, even though I didn’t really connect these dots earlier, I think I’m on to something.

All this to say, if you’re worried about investing money or time in something without a sure understanding of the potential value, then think of the trade offs instead. Yes, I had to spend the time yesterday to get the equipment, and i had to spend the money now. But think about the value. And tomorrow. It’s going to increase my own happiness and raise my productivity, which will in turn lead me to even more opportunities down the road. The money and time were a trade-off now for a better future tomorrow. And that’s what I’d consider an all-around great investment.