Scarcity is a problem of behaviour – humans are incredibly bad at forward planning under pressure. I’ve just finished reading the incredibly insightful Scarcity. It made me laugh when they pointed out we’re less liberal with the toothpaste as the tube runs empty (who doesn’t do that?). But their points are far more important than that. The poor are trapped by scarcity. Like a busy executive, their days are packed to the rafters. Unlike the spirit-crushed-well-ironed executive, however, they have little escape, and the poor borrow from the future – time, money, attention. As the authors put it – their bandwidth is taxed.
The problem is, when you’re busy, or skint, these situations drain your mental energy. Given the dropping oil price this week, let’s think in these terms. Money, Time, Attention : are like petrol. When you burn them, they are gone.
I want to escape! Help me!
The way to solve the problem is this. Planning. Let me introduce you to my dad - a very quiet man, who hardly drinks, rarely swears, and I mean so rarely, you might question my parentage. Dadalives by the following phrase, the six P’s: Proper Preparation Prevents P*ss Poor Performance. Turns outhe's right. The cure for scarcity is to prepare: Time and Money are energies. So create time-capsules of both in the future. How do we ensure that we have what we need in the future? Well, it’s time to fashion yourself a magical jerry-can of time.
So how do you squirrel some nuts of petrol?
When time, money and attention are abundant, you need to squirrel these away. When you have time and attention to think about your health – join a gym, get a trainer, buy healthy food for the cupboard, sign up for a race with a friend. When you have money, buy the things you will need later on. Or save so you can. That way, when scarcity hits, your friend will drag you to exercise, the trainer hassles you, and when you get the munchies all there is are carrots. And frangelico martinis. I mean, I love carrots, but who wants to watch films and eat carrots? (without martinis? Not me. That might explain why I'm in such excellent shape.).
And for the business owner?
Plan in help from the start. I had every intention of doing my accounts religiously. But I knew I’d get busy. And I have. So I’ve signed up to a package which calculates your taxes for you (freeagent). A website service that’s astonishingly easy to update (squarespace). Automated email updates when I publish a blog (feedburner). The other thing is – I no longer try to do the hard stuff at the end of the day, when I’m running on vapours. Do the most important thing (for you personally) at the start of the day, when the can is full. And make sure you’ve got petrol stored. Nobody expects the zombie apocalypse, but it’s be nice to be able to drive out of town and keep your brains uneaten.
Don’t think you can do it? Think you’ve got it nailed? Tell us in the comments!