Optimal scarcity

Several good things can result from scarcity.

That is right. A looming deadline stems procrastination, fosters clarity and helps us make quick decisions. Meetings are often more productive in the second half, when time is running out. We are more judicious with toothpaste when the tube is nearly empty. Psychologists call this positive aspect of scarcity “the focus dividend.”

Too much scarcity is detrimental. A poor person makes bad decisions because their mind is always thinking about the challenges of being poor. Even simple decisions are difficult for a mind preoccupied with anxiety. We all know the manager who is too busy to notice that their biggest problem is their busyness itself. Psychologists fittingly call this “tunneling”.

The key here is to find the middle ground – with enough scarcity to bring focus, but enough slack to avoid tunneling.

Inspiration: Scarcity

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