I am a regular reader of Seth Godin’s blog, and the other day he wrote about investing in slack. I thought he meant Slack, which he has promoted before, but no, he was referring to what some have called margin. As usual, he got me thinking!
I have just returned from a Registrar’s conference during which some of us discussed efficiency and we noted that efficiency taken to the extreme is inhuman. We are a human institution that depends on relationships. Relationships depend on space and time, and a few other things. It’s important to get things done, but it’s also important to recognize the importance of wiggle room, of margins, of breathing space, of creative space, etc.
I would encourage you to consider this holistically, by which I mean not only in how you manage time, but also the physical space you have around you. My office is filled with art (carvings and paintings), bookshelves, my desk and chair, but also some empty space. Maybe not enough empty space now that I think of it, but some space. The physical space in the Registrar’s Office has some open areas with a table that our staff can work at, where we can hold impromptu meetings, and where conversations can include everyone within earshot. This is by design, and it works for us.
Slack, margin, flexible space, whatever we call it, becomes more important as we increase automation and improve our efficiency. As David Allen has been saying for decades, the point of efficiency is so that we can focus on the most important things, not just get more things done.