Time & Busyness



You’re Too Busy. You Need a “Shultz Hour”

By David Leonhardt, New York Times, April 18, 2017

When George Shultz was secretary of state in the 1980s, he liked to carve out one hour each week for quiet reflection. He sat down in his office with a pad of paper and pen, closed the door and told his secretary to interrupt him only if one of two people called: “My wife or the president,” Shultz recalled.

Shultz, who’s now 96, told me that his hour of solitude was the only way he could find time to think about the strategic aspects of his job. Otherwise, he would be constantly pulled into moment-to-moment tactical issues, never able to focus on larger questions of the national interest. And the only way to do great work, in any field, is to find time to consider the larger questions.

The psychologist Amos Tversky had his own version of this point. Read More


I’m Suspicious of Efficiency, and I’m Addicted To It

By Courtney E. Martin

The more I think about it, the more I realize that it would probably be more accurate to say that I’m suspicious that modern humans — myself included — overvalue efficiency.

It’s a useful mindset in all kinds of different contexts and for a variety of reasons, some of which are very noble. We should absolutely, for example, insist that the process that people experiencing homelessness have to go through in order to find housing be redesigned. Eradicating redundancies and unnecessary bureaucracy, particularly those that poor people have to navigate to get access to basic care, is dignifying work.

Valuing efficiency in some contexts can be deeply problematic and even dehumanizing. Educating humans, for one, should be understood as inherently inefficient. That doesn’t mean you don’t want effective schools, but the measure of that effectiveness should not be speed, scale, or cost per unit. Same goes for raising humans. And making art. And creating community. And so many other critical human functions.

Our capacity to discern which context we’re in — one where efficiency is the smart or even noble thing, and ones where it is actually a damaging expectation — is endangered. We live in a world that emphasizes efficiency too broadly. We wield it wherever we go — a mindless weapon that we swing around in even the most delicate and organic of situations

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