What's the purpose of all this efficiency stuff, anyway?


The NYTimes reported that Barack Obama met Tory leader David Cameron during his visit to England last week. Cameron asked Obama if he will be taking any time off for a vacation this summer:

Mr. Cameron: Do you have a break at all?

Mr. Obama: I have not. I am going to take a week in August. But I agree with you that somebody, somebody who had worked in the White House who — not Clinton himself, but somebody who had been close to the process — said that should we be successful, that actually the most important thing you need to do is to have big chunks of time during the day when all you’re doing is thinking. And the biggest mistake that a lot of these folks make is just feeling as if you have to be ...

Mr. Cameron: These guys just chalk your diary up.

Mr. Obama: Right. ... In 15 minute increments and ...

Mr. Cameron: We call it the dentist waiting room. You have to scrap that because you’ve got to have time.

Mr. Obama: And, well, and you start making mistakes or you lose the big picture.
And this gets to the heart of all this 5S, single-tasking, inbox-managing, living-in-your-calendar, making-work-visible, bloviation: it's *not* about filing faster or handling more email for the sake of getting to boast about your empty inbox. It's about having more time to think. And to keep an eye on the big picture.

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