- Tiffany Marlink
It's time to create space
While sitting at a coffee shop, I noticed a gentleman staring at the calendar on his laptop. At quick glance, it looked like every moment of every day was filled with a beautifully colored square. My reaction went a little something like this. WOW! That guy looks super busy! I wonder what he does. I wonder what is in all of those boxes. I wonder if it’s all work. I wonder if he has to schedule his bathroom breaks.
By the time I got to the idea of scheduling bathroom breaks, I noticed something was starting to feel familiar. That used to be my life! I spent the first phase of my working career climbing the corporate ladder. I packed my schedule full and squeezed in things where there was no space. I would stress out, panic and feel like I was at the end of my rope on a regular basis. I complained that it was too much, yet I was secretly addicted to the glory of being able to pull off the seemingly impossible.
How do you feel when you look at your calendar? Is it packed full of work and obligations or do you create space for the things that bring you joy? Do your plans stick or does the whole thing go to shit when the next fire drill gets thrown in your lap?
If you look at your calendar and feel overwhelmed, you are not alone. If you feel like you have lost control of your schedule, you are also not alone. I’ve been there. I know how frustrating and sometimes oddly gratifying it is. I know you can keep going but the question is, do you want to?
I want to remind you that you do have options. You can choose whether you are going to allow this to continue or not. If you’re ready to regain control over how you spend your time, you could make a drastic change. Quit your job, vow to never let your calendar get out of control again and start fresh somewhere else. Unless you feel super passionate about working for yourself or another company, I would not recommend as your first step. Why? Because without some mindset work, your reprieve could be very short lived. Perhaps you give yourself a week in between jobs to catch your breath. You might even be able to give yourself a few weeks while you onboard to take advantage of a slower schedule because you’re new. Speaking from my own experience, if you don’t address the beliefs you’ve been operating under, the old subconscious beliefs will lead you right back down the path that you were on before.
There is another way. Start investigating your beliefs and begin implementing small, sustainable changes. Get a journal or dictation app and spend some time reflecting on the questions below. Make this a choose your own adventure. You can tackle these all at once or over a couple days. Choose the ones that resonate, the ones that cause an internal reaction or aversion, all or none.
What are you getting out of your current schedule? How is it serving you?
What is the first thing to go when you run short on time? Is that ok?
Which items are negotiable? Which ones would you like to make non-negotiable?
What is important when it comes to how you want to spend your time?
Which items in your calendar fill you with energy? Which items drain you?
What would you like your calendar to look like? What activities would be on it? How much space would there be for personal time, creativity and connection?
What is it costing you to say yes or allow last minute changes in your calendar?
Be curious and allow yourself to follow the clues to potential beliefs that could be limiting you from having a schedule that feels supportive and uplifting. Investigation and awareness are only one half of the equation. The other piece is starting to take intentional action. I want you to commit to taking one small action this week to create space in your schedule?
Examples could include: block out time for lunch (bonus points for not eating at your desk), set a non-negotiable time to leave work, schedule a 15-minute planning meeting each morning with your “Executive Board” (aka – you) to identify your top 3 priorities for the day.
Don't forget to let this be fun! This shouldn’t feel like another task or to do list item. This is expanding your mindset and setting healthy boundaries, so you can have more freedom to do the things that you love.