Introduce Scarcity for a Balanced Life

9/1/2013 |


How is Think Productive UK founder Graham Allcott getting on with his month-long experiment of only checking email on a Friday?

See all of the “experiment” posts here

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It’s often said that one of the secrets of a successful, balanced life is to “book theatre tickets”, because it means you’re applying the same level of planning and commitment to your relaxation and ‘personal life’ as you are to your work.  You’re committed to leaving the office on a deadline, thereby meaning you do as much work in that productive and excitable last hour as you would in two or three hours staying late.

I like this little saying a lot, but I’m not sure I should really have committed to a 6.30pm dinner on the first day of 2013 I’m ‘allowed’ to check my emails.

Friday 4th Jan started brightly enough: I opened up Outlook, winced, and then found there were only 150 emails accumulated since December 31st.  It seems most of the UK doesn’t start back to the 7th.  Inbox back to zero by 10am.  Lovely.

And then, I lost several hours to a vortex, caused as follows:


Bulk Writing

The bored, tedium of now having to write all the emails for which I had the ideas days ago.  The excitement of the ideas faded and the monotony of spending two hours doing nothing less mind-numbing than just typing,  Next week, I will try capturing the text of emails in a word doc, so that on Fridays I can just cut and paste.

Facebook and Twitter

Yay!  Allowing myself just a day a week on social media means I’m also spending Fridays – my one, precious email day, remember! – distracted and prone to procrastination of the blue and white variety.

Other People

Some circumstances beyond my control, mainly involving the incompetence of another organisation, leaving a big mess for us to sort out.  At approximately 5pm.  When I was supposed to be spending my last hour on focussed email time.


So I headed out at 6.30 with Outlook closed for another week.  It was, despite all the above, a pretty productive Friday,  Email was my only focus and having been away from my inbox, it no longer felt like a chore – almost an exciting thrill!

“work expands to fill the time available”  Parkinson’s Law

Introducing scarcity – like booking theatre tickets or only working on email on Fridays – is a good way to keep focussed.

Scared about next week when the inbox will be many more than 150, but focussed nevertheless.


Question: what besides email could you introduce scarcity to in your work to create more focus?


Like this? Try these 

How to Use Parkinson’s Law to Your AdvantageLifehack

Our Inbox Zero workshops – in your office or in a city year you

Trend: Organizations Limiting Email – Your Thought Partner





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