I generally like to have lots of different projects on the go both in my professional and personal life. The professional mix over the last few years has generally included:
teaching at university or coaching; research and writing a doctoral thesis; professional development training; learning a language (even just an hour here and there); developing new lines of research; publishing articles; writing and delivering conference papers; developing and maintaining professional relationships.
So by most standards, I would say I have quite a bit on. I have, I would like to add, learned the power and benefit of saying no sometimes. Not being able to say no, basically means that you end up putting other people’s missions ahead of your own. This is fine if you don’t know what you need to do, but once you do know, saying No is key. It’s powerful because you’re saying to yourself – I value and honour my own mission and the time given to me. It’s about giving thought about how your time is best spent right now.
In a round about way, this brings me to the point of this blog which is about learning to create the space we need in our lives. What the space is for will change from one moment to the next. Sometimes it’s about creating space for sleep and relaxation, other times it might be joy. When I say ‘create’, I think it’s more about letting your natural inclination at the time direct your action, as much as it’s appropriate to do so. Obviously you need to be awake to drive the car, so if you feel sleepy, you need to pull over and get some rest.
I know a lot of people, like myself, who have difficulty allowing themselves to do purely restful or entertaining things. Everything has to be outcome oriented. If we’re doing something nice like lying on the grass under a warm sun we’ll still be thinking about our never-ending ‘To do’ list.
There are others I’m sure who have the opposite situation of not creating a space for work in their lives or not honouring fully the work they have to do.
I think we can boil it down to a simple question: what is this moment for? Is this for work, for play, or for rest.
It’s also worth looking at the overall balance from time to time. Are you dedicating regular time to enjoy yourself in a healthy and vitalistic way? Are you giving yourself the downtime you need for the batteries to recharge properly, to refuel and reenergize?
The most common refrain I hear is “I don’t have time to rest” or “I don’t have time…” for something else that is essential for a healthy balanced life. Well, the truth is, nobody ‘has’ the time – some of us choose to create the time. The most successful people I see around me, embody this. They are usually leaders with immense responsibilities in a range of areas, they have healthy and well-connected families, and they are often models of physical, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing. The most interesting thing is, these people never talk about not having time for this or that. They make time for what they know is important. They make time for themselves, for their relationships, for work, for health. Maybe, occasionally, it might spending a little less time doing something else, but often it’s just a question of efficiency.
So I want to leave you with a couple of questions.
What do you need to make more time for on a regular basis? Hint: If you’re working 12 hours a day, the answer probably won’t be ‘work.’
What do you need to do more efficiently to create more time?
Tip: start small. Introduce a simple walk around the block into your daily routine, or just 1 minute where you allow yourself just to be, regardless of what thoughts come up.
Look into mindfulness meditation. Jon Kabat Zinn has excellent material in book and audio form and also runs courses. There is a great lecture line which he gave to Google which is very enjoyable and informative.
Finally I want to thank you and acknowledge you for making time to read this. Please let me know when you start to experience changes.