Godin’s Leveraged Effort Curve

GraphAmong highly-compensated workers, the amount of work you get paid for actually goes down as you get paid more.

A talented doctor spends no more than ten or fifteen minutes a day actually doing the thing that she’s actually gifted at

An insightful web designer spends just a few minutes a day actually doing insightful web design.

A great lawyer might be pushed to the edge of his talents once or twice a week.

The same goes for salespeople, farmers, novelists and hockey players. The baseline level of talent in most professions is pretty high, and the really exceptional people shine only rarely.

There’s too much overhead. A doctor needs to fill out forms, meet salespeople, answer phone calls, travel from hospital to hospital, manager her staff and every once in a while, see a patient. And most of those patients are run of the mill cases that a medical student could handle.

I’m talking about knowledge workers, obviously. Knowledge workers get paid extra when they show insight or daring or do what others can’t. But packaging the knowledge is expensive, time consuming and not parituclarly enjoyable for most people. As you get better at what you do, it seems as though you spend more and more time on the packaging and less on the doing.

(and yes, I know the chart above is about infected acorns, but it had the right slope)

The exception?

The intense conversations you can have with your customers and prospects, especially via a blog. Once you get the system and the structure set up, five minutes of effort can give you four minutes of high leverage idea time in front of the people you’re trying to influence.

When the net is broken (spam, popups, cc lists, most instant messaging) it just adds more "time overhead" to what you do. But when it’s working, it allows ideas to be stripped down to their essence and allows you to really push.

The temptation, when living without the time overhead, is to invent new overhead so you can stall. All these features available on blogs allow bloggers to spend time doing diligent housekeeping, with the excuse that it’s necessary. In fact, by stripping away the time overhead, what it means to be a knowledge worker might just change.