[Review] Busy by Tony Crabbe (2014)

I did something rather unthinkable in my last post – I consciously took a break. This was an anti-example of my post on the Asian Financial Crisis and Japan’s Lost Decade (bursting of its property bubble). That post took 7 hours or so (with breaks in between). Ultimately, the works on this site should be bounded in joy even if it comprises elements of employment.

This book opened my mind like an earlier book by Abdul Hadi Bin Kamarolzaman <The definite guide to a healthier workplace in Singapore: how to transform your business by creating healthier and happier employees> Optimal Health. (2015).*

The First chapter begins with unlearning. Time management in the traditional sense is in fact counterproductive and unhealthy. (In later chapters, busyness is analysed as a brand and a defence mechanism.)

In chapter Two,  I am reminded of the various other titles that I have gone through this quarter (of 2016) on behavioural economics (Economics Demystified* from the prior post)/investment psychology [Behavioural Investing: Understanding the Psychology of Investing by Pauline Yong. (2013). Singapore. Trafford Publishing.] The key term is heuristics, which can be understood as ‘mental shortcuts’. Often, these and our emotions* drive our decision making. Notable role models in bucking the trend of being mindlessly busy include Dwight Eisenhower (United States President, 1953 – 61). He was described as the master of concretising opportunity cost. When considering the purchase of a heavy bomber (even during the Cold War and Korean War), he compared its cost against 30 brick schools back home for the people. Against this backdrop, was the bomber truly worth the investment?

Another learning point is to take a break (or ensure sufficient rest – true rest) before making tough choices. In a 2011 joint study between the Stanford Graduate School of Business and Tel Aviv University, a mere 10% of prisoners were found to be successfully paroled during late afternoon trial sessions. The inference was that the judges owing to their mental fatigue refused parole as they (biologically) took the path of least resistance and maintained the prisoners’ imprisonment.

One corporate Vice President (VP) at Microsoft presents a model for ‘boundaries’. This VP managed to celebrate all the birthdays of his wife and 3 children, as well as wedding anniversaries; joined the kids on their first and final day of school… This was only the tip of the glorious mountain! His ‘Rules of Engagement’ (ROE) to spend time with his loved ones guided his life. He would have refused a job position had his employer/supervisor rejected the ROE. However, as Crabbe rightly highlighted, this is predicated on a clear and specific vision of one’s life from an overarching, holistic perspective. You have to know what you desire before you can work towards it or negotiate for it.

*Notes/References:

The chapter on work-life balance asked the question – are the boundaries that I set making life more difficult for myself (and perhaps everyone else)? The author seems also to have have worked the Agency for Integrated Care (AIC) as Programme Manager in 2013 and lectures at Ngee Ann Polytechnic (last updated 26 Sep 2014).

A government group was set up because of these beliefs. The Behavioural Insights Team of the United Kingdom was formed. It was nicknamed the ‘Nudge Unit’. It is as of 30 Dec 2016 (if not earlier): ‘…independent of the UK government.’ Plausibly, this was due to David Cameron stepping down from premiership post Brexit.

Gerry Spence, a well known North American lawyer, who had not lost a criminal case, and had not been defeated in a civil jury case between 1969 and 2005 likewise argues that our emotions are the hidden force behind our logical arguments. I either heard the audiobook for his <Win Your Case: How to Present, Persuade, and Prevail–Every Place, Every Time> (probably published in 2005) or read the book years ago.

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