Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Money and Attention

Every big economic disruption changes the balance between money and attention. The long-term trend is for more money, less attention. With no time to pay attention to everything we need to do, we spend more money to get things done with less attention. The trend in the last two years, though, is troubling: people have less money and less attention to spare.

Basically, less is getting done. People are as pressed for time as ever, but with less money to spend, they can’t just spend money to make up for their inattention. So people are letting more things slide.

Some of this is just as well. If you don’t have two hours to fuss over what to wear to a pool party or to find the perfect wording for a thank-you note, not much really is lost. But people are also postponing repairs, taking less care of their health, and not keeping in touch with their friends and business connections. A lot more people are flying by the seat of their pants, as the saying goes, and just hoping everything works out right. Statistically, some will get away with it, while others will have everything go wrong at just the worst possible time.

There is no easy answer for this, but at least be aware of the extra risks you take when you let things slide. That way, as soon as the opportunity comes up, you can take care of some of the important things that previously you didn’t have time to look at.