Thursday, July 19, 2012

Making Space

How do I go about making space in life?

I seemingly have the least obnoxious commute to work I have had in years and can relatively control the length of time that I work but I seem to have less time than I have ever had.  This is a problem for me, as I can see the trap forming about my head as this goes on: less and less gets done and I move further and further away from directions I want to go in.

So how does one make space in one's life - I mean, with constraints like a job and a family?

First, it seems to me, is energy level.  Am I able to give the most energy throughout my day, not just at the beginning?  Do I expend the best energy doing the things that are least important and leave the remainder for the things  I really want to do? (In my case, yes)

Everyone's energy level is different - for me, it's tied directly to sleep.  That seems a conundrum to me, since time spent sleeping is time not spent doing something else - but if I'm too tired and low to do the other things with the extra time, then I've gained nothing.

Nutrition probably figures in here as well, although I'm much less versed in it.  I can make the generic comment that I need to eat better - what does that really look like?

Second is where I'm spending my time.  One large item, of course, is not giving time away unnecessarily.  It's easy to paint this as only being time wasted at work (giving extra hours, for example)  but it's not just that.  It's how I spend my time at work.  I've come to realize that in the case of bad work environments, people tend to cluster together like survivors to maintain their sanity.  It's necessary for maintaining sanity, but it comes at the cost of getting things done.  Be honest - do I really need to do everything that I think I need to do at work? 

Third, then is what I'm spending my time on.  This is where Stephen Covey's Urgent and Important matrix comes in helpful.  Am I spending time on the the things that are important but not urgent first and important and urgent first, or am I letting the urgent and unimportant or non-urgent and unimportant dominate my time?  The difference between these two is critical:  I can spend precisely the same amount of time in two different areas;  one will move me close to a goal, one will simply amuse me or take my mind off a bad situation.  The results are not the same.

Fourth is wedging in larger chunks of time.  This is something I am still trying to master.  In essence, it is creating larger and larger blocks of time that things can be accomplished - for example, learning to string five and ten minute chunks together, pulling them out of the things that don't matter at all and redirecting them.  Before long, you've made thirty uninterrupted minutes to do something in.

Time is time, and 24 hours in a day is all we get.  It's learning to make the space therein to pursue the important things that eventually differentiates those that accomplish from those that whine.

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