Life is an endless quest for calibration: “Am I doing too much? Am I doing too little? Is my allocation of resources in sync with my priorities?” I say “endless” because we’re never quite calibrated. Rarely do we spend just the right amount of time, energy and attention on a task and no more. More often, we under- or over-allocate. The difficulty, I suppose, is knowing when enough is enough, knowing when to add and when to take away.
When I look at my own life and my own attempted accomplishments this is vividly apparent. Some things get way too much of my time and attention; others get way less than they truly deserve. But I can only figure this out ex post facto, which means I’m constantly using the present to try and make adjustments to the past.
I’ve tried to put an end to this seesawing with the adoption of certain heuristics. For a time, I plastered my notebooks with “Less, better”. I deliberately under-allocated in order to counteract over-allocation. Didn’t work. So I adopted another conflicting heuristic instead: “Do more.” I deliberately over-allocated in order to counteract under-allocation. That didn’t work either. So now, I’m trying a different approach. A hybrid.
Because I lean towards the “less” side of the less-more spectrum, I’m going with the following heuristic: “Less is better, but you can do more than you think.” The aim is to do less, better, whilst retaining the option of doing more.
I’m doubtful that such an approach will make anything but a marginal difference, but I’ve been wrong in the past. Maybe I’ll be wrong again and stumble upon a way to calibrate my life with unerring accuracy.