Unnamed Spaces

Sounds like the name of a band or a far out TV series!

So what are unnamed spaces? For this blog, they are the unplanned-blank moments that draw you into distraction and lead you to feeling overwhelmed when you thought those blank open spaces would give you freedom.

In my last two blogs I talked about Overcoming Overwhelmed and Can a Lack of Margin Lead to Overwhelm?  - what causes us to become overwhelmed and one of the main contributors - a lack of margin.

Today's blog is going to address 2 areas that cause overwhelm: a lack of margin from the perspective of wide open spaces and a lack of intention in our calendar.

So to recap from my last blog:

In my coaching I will see one of the following:

  1. No planning. The calendar is blank.

  2. Planning just the appointments. There is a lot of blank hours.

  3. Rigid planning. No blank space because every appointment buts up to each other.

For those in camp #1 - you may think that all that planning robs you of freedom and spontaneity.

For those in camp #2 - you believe the appointments with others should be on the calendar but never give thought to putting you on the calendar. And, you also like the thought of all that blank area for times of spontaneity.

For those in camp #3 - you are so structured that if one appointment goes over your day is behind.

Today we are addressing camp #2 & #3

The prevailing thought with these two camps is the belief that building margin or naming each space in your day is that it can initially come across as lacking spontaneity. You fear that you will get so rigid that you end up running in the opposite direction. Out of fear of being so structured you leave your day/your calendar unplanned but end up feeling as though you never get the really important done.

I would challenge the mindset that building margin into your day robs you of the opportunity for spontaneity. When you have blank space not named in your life you end up focusing on the non-essential. Everything becomes a crisis, everything is urgent, EVERYTHING takes longer than you think. You are always busy or pushed to the limit because of four things:

  1. You don't really give each activity the time it truly needs

  2. You do not factor in transition time between each activity or appointment.

  3. You allow distractions to hijack your day.

  4. You feel compelled to say YES to others needs simply because you have a blank schedule on paper.

If any of this sounds like you, I have a challenge for you.

Let’s look at what you had planned to accomplish this past 6 months:

  1. Write down what you planned to accomplish over the past 6 months (even with Covid-19). I want it all - even the smallest item like +clean out the spice drawer.

  2. Put a check mark next to the items you completed.

  3. Using a highlighter, highlight the items you did not accomplish.

  4. Mark through the highlighted ones that you could not do because of an unforeseen emergency like a medical issue, etc.

  5. Now look at your list and see what is left.

  6. Take a look at your calendar and see where you COULD have plugged in those tasks and projects if you had been INTENTIONAL with your time.

Are you ready to start planning and getting things done???  And here is the best part, YOU SCHEDULE IN DOWN TIME!! Yeah

Ok, so how does this work? Well you must name your spaces. All your spaces (appointments, vacations, health & self-care, meals, transition time, blocked blank space for whatever you want, etc). Starting tomorrow, plan out your day and build in margin.

  1. Plug in your appointments (doctor, car maintenance, hair, etc). Be sure to allocate plenty of time for these appointments.

  2. Block drive time before and after your appointments. (prior unnamed space)

  3. Schedule in self-care time, vacations, etc. (prior unnamed space)

  4. Take your projects and tasks and plug them into your calendar allocating plenty of time for each. FYI - If you think something will take you 15 minutes - double it.

  5. Block transition time between each item in #4. This will go a long way to overcoming overwhelmed.

Now you have a realistic view of your load. What you CAN accomplish without pushing yourself into the ground trying to do it all. What you will find is you are actually MORE productive than before because you are not distracted, unfocused or overwhelmed.

Do not let your spaces go unnamed.

And the best part of this habit/system is that when something changes, an emergency happens or you just want to play hooky that day; you can easily see where in the remainder of your calendar you can move things.

There is so much freedom in knowing you can.

There is so much freedom in building margin and naming your spaces.

It takes as much energy to wish as it does to plan.     Eleanor Roosevelt

Do you have any questions or need any direction with coaching, please email me at christi@christiratcliff.com or check out my website at christiratcliff.com

Lets stay connected



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