By Sunny Simon
My good friend Kay is calendar dependant. I sometimes think her happiness quotient is in direct proportion to the number of activities filling the hours of her daily schedule. Kay inundates the days of the month with everything from bocce ball meetings to pedicures. She sprinkles in community service, wedges in wine tastings with friends and logs many hours networking to promote her business. It is not unusual for Kay to rush into meetings late breathlessly murmuring apologies then quickly issuing a spoiler alert notifying all present that she must leave early due to a prior commitment.
While this state of heightened activity might seem to work for Kay, I’m sure my friend feels overwhelmed at times. Being busy is different than being productive. Setting limits is important. Restrictions guard us from becoming overwhelmed. Being in constant motion dashing from one event to another leaves no think time and zero down time to validate progress and measure outcome.
A quiet mind is a necessity for introspection. Designating time to abstain from talking or reading, time to silence the internal chatter and reflect promotes good mental health. Over the years I’ve learned how to build some “me time” into my schedule that is non-negotiable. I allow myself blissful unstructured hours to do whatever I choose and sometimes that choice is nothing at all. Well, not exactly nothing. I often enjoy magical moments spent taking in the sunset as it bounces off the mountains, watching the swans swim by on the small lake where we reside, or sitting on a bench alongside my dog Zoli just taking in the silence.
There is power in the white space on your calendar. Even during a busy day at the office a five or ten minute breather between conference calls and client meetings can impact the quality of your performance. Nationally recognized corporate consultant Juliet Funt advises protecting your white space like a pit bull. Creativity soars during unscheduled time.
Even commute time can be converted into white space if you dial down the radio and free your mind from conscious problem solving and planning. A bit of free form daydreaming is like a mini vacation. You will arrive at work or a home in a more relaxed state.
Have I convinced you to take on the white space challenge? Pull out your weekly agenda and carve out some free time. And if anyone sees Kay or someone fitting her description this week, urge her or him to slow down. The result will be heightened productivity. You cannot ask for anything better.
Sunny Simon is the owner of Raise the Bar High Life and Career Coaching. More about Sunny at www.raisethebarhigh.com