Never enough time? Or is it not spacious enough?
We know that weekend feeling: As the work week draws to a close, we have a feeling emerging that everything will be fine. As the holidays approach, we become more positive and energetic. What is it about the weekends or holidays that really makes a difference in how we feel?
Space in our schedules, in our commitments, in our environments and even in the way we work, all contribute to the feeling of ease and productivity. The constant fuss, action, performance, movement of this needle, creates an almost physical feeling of pressure on our head and heart.
When these pressures subside, we feel relief. And when the physical pressures are removed, even temporarily, we can find respite. My invitation to you is to let go of the idea of not having enough time and focus on creating space in your workday.
Large open field with the rising sun.
Source: Photo by Federico Respini from Unsplash
Space in the dictionary is defined as: “to have enough; an abundant space or room; amply. »In his article, “The art of finding space”, Samantha Wallen describes space as “the place that lives beyond things, concept, language, agenda, to-do lists. It’s the place you touch when you make a pause, rest, become calm and still.
Where to find space?
Space is available to us in many areas of life.
We can think of this concept as a space in our calendar and our time. We can be aware of what we are booking, who we are meeting with and for how long. For example, try booking meetings for 25 minutes instead of 30, or 50 minutes instead of an hour. This way, you create extra time for yourself in your schedule.
You can also explore the pace of your day so you have lots of focused work (time spent on task), creative work, and responsive work (checking emails or social media). Mindful minutes, fitness breaks, and other activities that bring relaxation and energy into your day can make a real difference.
Our physical space
We can think of saving space by going out or spending time outdoors. A change of scenery. We know that a few minutes of time outdoors in an open space creates a feeling of abundance and limitlessness, and dramatically improve our health. We see an increase in problem solving, innovation, critical thinking and creativity when we go out. When we are inside all day, we feel a lack; we feel the scarcity. So we want to give ourselves the opportunity to go out and experience all that is outside.
It also gives us time to ask ourselves questions; to think and find new ideas and inspiration. Often times, these difficult issues are not resolved at the board table or during a Zoom call. It is when we have space and openness that we can generate new ways of seeing solutions.
Source: Photo by Kaue Fonseca on Unsplash
In my last white paper, “Summer: the season of play for all (even adults)” I wrote about the importance of play, both for children and for adults. The space with our activities includes leaving us space to play, to find joy through play. Remember recess in elementary school? That 15 minute window of time for doing nothing and everything. Remember how good it was to have this break. Play and experience freedom for the sake of playing. Adults can also create breaks in their day. Playtime can be a moment of freedom. We know that play is not just essential for children; it can also be an important source of relaxation and stimulation for adults. It fuels our imagination, creativity, and problem-solving skills. In addition, for us, play is a gateway to empathy, communication and relationships. By giving yourself space to play, you actually gain a host of benefits while doing so.
We have collectively been going through a global pandemic and the changes in our personal and professional lives for over 18 months now. One of the changes we’ve had to adapt to, and quickly, has been the way we communicate. Zoom meetings have become more popular than ever, and our emails are probably at an all-time high. We find ourselves sending and receiving more and more emails and the lines of work and home are blurred. We have become accessible through our inboxes around the clock.
We need to create space with our communications. Set limits with your emails. Get out of the camera when you’re on a Zoom call, or try an old-fashioned phone call. As Gia Storms writes, being in front of the camera actually creates more fatigue and self-awareness.
Space ideas at a glance
Here are some practical ways to create space in your life, helping you achieve a greater sense of ease and balance while being productive.
Have a thought capture system
Use notebooks, Post-its, i-Notes, etc. to capture your thoughts and ideas. When an idea arises, save it and move on. Avoid trying to hold onto multiple ideas while working on other things.
Declutter your space
An organized office supports an organized mind. Just like the tip above, you don’t want a cluttered mind. Create space by literally cleaning up your space. The act of cleaning, sorting and organizing creates a sense of order and control, which can alleviate stress.
Single-task vs. multi-task
The mono-task, or the time devoted to the task, helps fluidity. We get things done more efficiently and on a higher level when we are focused on one thing. Spend more time on your tasks by eliminating distractions and setting limits.
“Quickly checking” anything, even for a tenth of a second, can result in a 40% loss of productivity over the course of a day, and it can take us 23 minutes to get back into the zone after a job change.
Here are a few ideas: When possible, turn on your do not disturb phone, close your email, avoid the urge to scroll down Instagram, and focus on what you’re doing right now. Time spent on task is when we can truly feel productive! We waste precious space, time and energy unnecessarily by “just checking”.
Dr Viktor Frankl wrote: “Between the stimulus and the response there is a gap. In this space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.
An awareness of the desire to create space and ease in your work day is key. You have to be aware that you want it and start working in a practical way to create it. Incorporate fitness breaks and mindful minutes into your map of the day and stick to them. Take breaks before you do to feel as if you needed it.
The more you implement these ideas, the more you prioritize a sense of space and the more likely you are to be able to react to what is going on in your day. And in that response, we can make clear choices about how we present ourselves to others and to ourselves.