Mental Model Mondays #4: Premature Optimisation

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Hi friends, hope we’re all keeping well.

This week I want to discuss something called premature optimisation, a concept from the field of computer science.

💭Concept 💭

Premature optimization is spending a lot of time on something that you may not actually need.

Basically, it is used to describe situations where you’ve just wasted a lot of time on something that wasn’t necessary.


This is actually a really simple concept to understand once you have examples.

-Imagine you’re trying to book a holiday for you and your friends, and you go ahead and book flight tickets, hotel accommodation, a personal tour etc. But let’s say you do all this WITHOUT even consulting your friends on whether they can go or not, that would be a good example of premature optimisation. Can you see how if they all say they have no time, then you would’ve just wasted precious money and time?

-Premature optimisation could also involve someone buying new expensive gear and equipment for a new hobby they’ve heard about, despite the fact that they’ve never tried it out before and don’t even know whether they enjoy it or not.

-Someone planning a party to celebrate exam results that haven’t come out yet, anticipating that they are going to be fantastic, is also an example of premature optimisation in a way, since the entire party would probably have to be cancelled if the results were not as expected.


The best way to avoid premature optimisation is to get feedback as early as possible, and as often as possible. This also means you have to be open to constructive criticism, and be prepared to embrace negative sentiment.

To fight premature optimisation from the first example, a simple text message or call asking the friends if they’re even free for the holiday would’ve easily prevented any potential waste of time/money. If they’re all busy, then simply rescheduling would’ve worked too.

In the second example, you would get feedback by simply experimenting with the hobby a few times, and see if you enjoy it.

In the third example, staying patient for a while and waiting for the exam results (feedback) to actually come out first, before planning a celebration party, would’ve been the best way forward.

Cool, I really like this mental model because it also teaches us to keep an open mind, and to always be on the lookout for feedback, lest we waste time and money🙃

Stay safe, and I’ll hopefully see you guys in another post👋🏼

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