Don’t Add Unless You Subtract

mind set I picked up a really interesting book a couple of weeks ago: Mind Set! by John Naisbitt. I’ve never heard of Mr. Naisbitt, but I gather that he is well known for his ability to identify major trends and to give us a glimpse of what the future holds. In this book, he explains the eleven “mindsets” he has developed to synthesize the flood of information he’s exposed to every day (newspapers, media, etc.) and to develop his conclusions about significant trends.

“Don’t add unless you subtract” is one of his most compelling and interesting mindsets. I’ve been thinking about it for about a week now and have found it to be remarkably relevant in my life.

This fall, my staff decreased from five to four (including me) and a major new project (a new full-time job itself) was added to my plate. I added but did not subtract, and all four of us are feeling the effects.

I used to run every morning at 5am in order to be back home before the first of my three small children awoke, to tend to them so my wife could sleep in a little longer. Then came baby #4, and leaving at 5am meant not being around to help at 5:10am when the baby awoke, crying for a bottle. So, I added the baby, and subtracted the run. I have tried many ways to add the run back into my life, but have not been willing (yet) to subtract something else to make it work.

Of course, what I crave is a 25th hour in the day. While I know it doesn’t exist, a part of me thinks I can find it somehow. And it’s that irrational belief that makes me say “yes” to appealing requests for my time, despite my already-full schedule….

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