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The scarcity trap

Oliver Burkeman is Busy, the eponymous journalist’s recent Radio Four miniseries on the subject of busyness, has provided a number of insights into how difficult it can be to manage our time amidst the distractions of modern life.

In one of the episodes, Eldar Shafir, Professor of Psychology at the University of Princeton, talks about a phenomenon known as the ‘scarcity trap’:

“When you’re busy and have limited bandwidth, you start making decisions less well. It’s called the scarcity trap. As you are overwhelmed with doing more and more, you have less time to think carefully about how to do each task.”

In football, as we are constantly distracted by the weekly cycle of matches and associated short-term decisions, it can be extremely difficult to find the time for contemplation and big-picture strategic thinking.

Shafir has a remedy for this common problem called “meeting with self”, a solution that encourages people to set aside two 15 or 30 minute chunks of time each day. This time is to be used to take care of unexpected tasks or to ruminate over long-term strategic issues. Not only does this enable a healthier approach to time management, it also affords us the time required for clear thinking free from distraction.

A similar approach can be applied at an organisational level. It can be tempting to focus solely on short-term results, but ultimately overarching strategic decisions will have a greater bearing on the future health of our club. Make sure that the key decision-makers in your club are regularly finding the time to take a step back from their daily tasks and think reflectively about the direction of the organisation.

If you can avoid the scarcity trap, you’ll be in a far better position to make effective decisions that influence both the present and future of your club.

About Chris Mann

Chris Mann has created 6 entries.