It will save me time,” is a popular justification for buying something new. But if saving time is the chief consideration, don’t forget to check how much time it will also cost you.

The new gadget may save you time once you know how to use it, but how many hours will you need to invest to get to that point? The new machinery may be more efficient, but how much time will ongoing maintenance require? Because in the long-run, the time-saving device may sometimes cost you more time than it saves you.

In my life, I’ve seen something similar in tweaking productivity systems. I want to use my time well, and so I’m attracted to both tools and methodologies that can help. But I’ve also seen how it can be very easy to spend more time implementing new systems than the time they save. There’s nothing wrong with them. But the reasons behind why I want to make the switch do matter.

It’s one thing to tweak and play with a new gadget or system because you enjoy doing so. It’s another if your primary goal is to be as efficient as possible. In that case, the ROI on your time spent setting up something new should be clear from the onset. Otherwise, you could spend more time getting it ready than the savings it provides.

There are plenty of other reasons you may reach for something new. Maybe you like the way it looks or some aspect of how it’s built. Those are fine reasons in themselves. But if your chief rationale for the switch is efficiency, make sure you know how much those promised gains will cost you. Because, after accounting for them, the net savings may not be as much as you think.