Tune in Turn on Drop In
“I am a traveler of both time and space” – Led Zeppelin
“We don’t get creative ideas from our laptops.” – John Cleese
Hello, fellow traveler! As we journey along, we somehow forget that in addition to existing in space, we need to find our space. It’s incredibly easy to feel overloaded. Options for work, recreation, time with family and friends, and leisure time abound. Hyper-scheduling is a thing that exists.
NPR recently labeled Millennials as the self-care generation, and proposed that due to the wealth of information made available by the internet, Millennials have decided that self-care is a good thing. After being sold on the Boomer model of, “If you work really hard and give up time with everyone you love and everything you love to do, one day you can have a condo in Florida and play golf until you die,” and then graduating from school to find that this entire way of life had dissolved with the housing market, it is not shocking that my generation engages in self-care above all.
What might come as a surprise is that we are also the most likely to be work martyrs. We think about work more often than previous generations. We’re more likely to work after business hours. We’re more likely to give up paid time off, surrendering to the guilt created by being out of the office and out of reach of email.
This is a counterproductive rabbit hole. Being connected doesn’t make us happy or healthy. Being busy doesn’t make us happy or healthy. It does more harm than good, especially to creativity.
Don’t be this guy.
We need space in order to properly engage our creative brains. John Cleese agrees. Hamster wheels by their very nature aren’t exactly fronts of innovation. If you want to go somewhere else, you have to…go somewhere else. Take that vacation. Try something new. Come back to work refreshed, rejuvenated, and ready to rock.
Unicorn racing is very rejuvenating.
Now that I’ve extolled the virtues of taking a holiday…
Vacations are super cool and all, but as with all health centered things in life, finding space isn’t a one-off week per year game. In the same vein as exercise, eating right, and flossing, it’s a long run agreement of moderation you make with yourself to form habits that create the freedom to lead an enjoyable life. Figure out when and where you can take a vacation, every day. Create Mr. Cleese’s boundaries of space, and boundaries of time.
Your Baby Steps Guide for Action:
Having an underlying structure provides the freedom with which to take time and create space. Poor scheduling creates the frantic nature associated with busyness. Our lives will always be full, at times to bursting, but they don’t have to be classically busy. Give yourself the consideration you’d give a client or piece of business and schedule yourself some ‘me’ time.
1. Find a space for yourself to do nothing each day. Ten minutes.
- Bonus round: create this space at the same time every day. Observe your blood pressure go down. Do you need a small island of calm at the start of your day? Would you benefit from a lunchtime inner siesta? Is your commute home less stressful for the ten-minute vacation between shutting your laptop and hitting the road?
2. Stuck on something? Did you try for an uninterrupted 25-30 minutes to get somewhere? (Bring that down to 10-15 for the ADHD among us.) Science says to take a 5-minute break and do something else. The Pomodoro Technique seems a little over the top at first – Do I *really* need a break every 25 minutes? – but creates a calmer, less stressed outcome. This also reduces the total time it takes to accomplish the task at hand. It’s not giving up, it’s getting down with your brain power.
- Bonus round: Do something in a completely different vein of productivity during this time. Arrange your desk clutter. Perfect your office basketball shoot. Wash that coffee mug.
3. Schedule one thing into your life every day that makes you happy. For me, this is having my first mug of coffee outside with my kitties. Before the world wakes up, it’s just the three of us utterly delighting in the first rays of sunshine, a little fresh air, and a little gratitude for the promise of another day. This is also a great time for the kitties to chase bugs without the dog ruining their fun.
- Bonus round: Decline to offer a unit of measurement for the effectiveness of this thing. Embrace the subjectivity. You will know.
4. Get outside. Nature up. Get some vitamin D, and experience whichever seasonal temperatures and weather are at hand. Go for a walk. Remember that the world at large does not have cubicles and fluorescent lighting. How will you run into new ideas if you’re constantly bounded by walls?
- Bonus round: Leave your phone indoors.
With these simple tools, you’re well on your way to creating space amidst life’s clutter. Bon voyage!