I’ve been noticing, as my recent life has been getting busier and busier, that I’ve started shifting the way I think about things. Instead of just thinking “is this a good thing to do” or “is this a bad thing to do”, I’ve started thinking in terms of whether this one-more-thing-to-do is going to cause the entire apparatus I call a schedule to topple over ignominiously, like the effect of that one last proverbial straw on the back of an already overladen camel.
And I am reminded of what a wise older friend – alas no longer with us – told me many years ago. He said that the one real cost in any project, the thing that must be watched over at all costs, is the number of (in his words) MAU’s – Management Attention Units. You can cut corners on anything else, find alternate paths to the same goal, slash budgets, take short cuts, invent clever work-arounds, but you only have so many MAU’s in any project. If you use those up, the jig is up.
And so I realize, as paradoxical and against my nature as it seems, that doing less can in fact be doing more. Rather than racing all out to keep those plates spinning in the air, it might actually be more productive to spend a certain amount of time doing nothing – just to allow some space between the ears, rather than giving in to the next bout of action-packed planning and time juggling.
Just as muscles need time to rest, as even a top athlete needs to sleep at night, we all need a way, from time to time, to get away from our own ceaseless planning – from the management of our own busy lives. By all means dive in, make things happen, enjoy the happy madness of it all. Just be careful not to overspend your Management Attention Units.