Entertainment vs Education

Looking at the amount of time and money you spend on activities that are classified as entertainment compared to educational reveals A LOT about a someone’s habits. Otherwise known as the EvE ratio (credit to Peter Voogd), it provides insight into how effectively you spend your most precious resource.

If you’re not where you want to be in your in career, there’s a good chance your EvE ratio is WAY too high — i.e. spending an exorbitant amount of time on entertainment.

As a kid, I used to be a massive RPG nerd and obsess over the ‘leveling up’ the characters. To give you an idea, when I was 12 years old, I spent so much time playing Final Fantasy 7 that the timer on the save file maxed out at 99hours 99mins. There was nothing more satisfying that getting to the final boss, and annihilating him in record time. And while the final battle was over quickly, I spent ages travelling the world, browsing the internet for the best places to gain experience and locating the hardest monsters to beat. It simply wasn’t enough to just get-by, I wanted to absolutely dominate and push myself to the limits.

This was the freakin bees-knees for 12y.o me
This was the freakin bee’s knees for 12y.o me

Even though I’ve since stopped playing games (lame, I know), I’ve transferred my passion from leveling up into my real life. The easiest way I did this was going through my daily schedule and calculating the E.v.E ratio. Below were my findings:

  • 2 hours — Streaming TV series
  • 30 mins — Social media browsing
  • 1 hour — Listening to commercial radio in car on the way to work
  • 1 hour — Reading news/political sites
  • 1 hour — Reading PDFs/Paperback resources related to digital marketing

As you can see my only source of education were the online courses I was doing after-hours. With an EvE ratio of 5.5:1, it’s clear most of my priorities were around distracting myself for short-term gratification. I was spending 4.5 hours a day on entertainment. In short, I was growing at a snail’s pace.

This was a profound realisation, as it wasn’t until observed myself that I realised how much time I was wasting. And how harmful this was to my personal growth. Just like a poor diet, the effects were cumulative and insidious. If I was to continue with this routine over time, boy this would cause some damage!

I immediately took action and identified any substitutions I could make to even out my ratio to the desired 1:1. Below were the revisions:

  • 1 hour — Streaming TV series
  • 1 hour — Udemy and Lynda Digital Marketing Courses
  • 30 mins — Social Media Browsing
  • 1 hour — Using Audible to listen to audiobooks while driving
  • 30 mins — Reading blogs from thought-leaders in Growth Hacking space
  • 30 mins — Reading news/political sites
  • 1 hour — Reading PDFs/Paperback resources related to digital marketing

I haven’t totally scrapped my leisure time, because we all need some down-time and to indulge occasionally. But I substituted by previous activities with new ones that didn’t require a dramatic behaviour shift. I found it much easier to adapt this way. For example instead of streaming the second Game of Thrones episode, I watched an online seminar/course. I guarantee there would have been much more internal resistance had I opted to build a landing page for a client. I chose an activity that was still passive, and in-line with my previous behaviour. My EvE ratio now is 0.7:1.

The adage ‘if you’re not growing you’re dying’ has never been more applicable. The quickest way you can change yourself is to reduce your EvE ratio. You’ll be level 99 before you know it ;-)

Side note — It is not enough to simply spend time learning passively. The ‘education’ will be considered entertainment if you don’t translate what you learnt into REAL practice. You might as well watch TV if you’re not going to apply your knowledge. Just learnt HTML/CSS? Make a website from scratch! Don’t just pat yourself on the back after doing a course or reading a book, you need to be active and purposeful in what you learn.

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