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Thursday, May 11, 2017

Scarcity--part 2

The proverbial ticking clock!
This is the second in a series of posts about the book Scarcity:  Why Having Too Little Means So Much, by Sendhil Mullainathan (an economics professor at Harvard) and Eldar Shafir (a psychology and public affairs professor at Princeton).  Look here for a cool info-graphic visual summary of the book, created by Todd Clarke.  Here's a podcast where they talk about some of their findings.

This has implications for us in how we plan our work.  I'm guessing most of us, especially at this time of year, are a little beside ourselves with things to do.  We are planning and publicizing our summer programs, and trying to make the summer jam-packed with terrific offerings for kids, teens, and families in our communities.  It can make it hard to think big-picture. 

Consider building slack into your schedule.  It might seem silly to allow for any wiggle room when there is so much to be done, but if you leave a little space (don't schedule your meetings or programs back to back, leave a few hours free to catch up every week) you will be better able to accommodate unexpected changes  (a sick co-worker, a flooded bathroom, etc.) without getting hopelessly behind.  And if no unexpected changes happen (face it, have you ever had a week like that?) you will have a chance to use that time to get ahead on something, OR to think/reflect about bigger picture things.

In the book, they described situations where having slack in a schedule (having an assistant whose time is not always booked to the last minute) or a building (a busy hospital setting aside an operating room for emergency surgeries) actually made the system more efficient.  Think about that!

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