OPINION13 May 2019

Taking a little time

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Behavioural economics Opinion UK

Rory Sutherland argues that it’s time to reassess our view of efficiency at work.

Sir John Hegarty once presented some work to Sir Paul McCartney. Paul, as clients always do, asked for changes to be made, and requested revisions the following day. “Um, could we have until the end of the week?” John asked. “After all, nothing decent is ever done quickly.”
“That’s not true, ” said Paul. “I wrote Yesterday in 15 minutes.”

To this day, John still regrets not supplying the obvious rejoinder: “Well think how much better it could have been if you’d only taken some time over it.”

Who’s right in this debate? Does more time always lead to better work? Well, it’s complicated. But there is one rule that holds – there is a special value to uninterrupted time. Paul might have written the tune to Yesterday in 15 minutes (the lyrics took months), but he didn’t write them to order in the space between a conference call and a budget meeting.

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