Why I Don’t “Jam-Pack” My Schedule
A few weeks ago, I was delivering a workshop. It’s one of the things I LOVE doing these days and is such a natural extension of the coaching work I do; I get excited about sharing ideas, engaging groups, and pointing folks in the direction of greater possibility.
As I was setting up, one of the participants and I had a bit of a conversation. It went like this:
Participant: “So, how are you these days? Busy?”
Me: “Pretty productive, yes.”
Participant: “Schedule jam-packed?”
Me, shaking my head: “No, I don’t do ‘jam-packed’.”
Participant (looking at my incredulously: “No?”
Me: “Nope. I don’t buy into the myth that busy is a good thing.”
I will admit, I had a bit of a chuckle following the exchange. And if we hadn’t been about to start the session, I would have shared more. Because what I know for sure is that our society has set us all up with the idea that “being busy” is a good thing -- so much so that “busy” has become a gauge of success. And it’s inaccurate at best.
Being busy is nothing more or less than a reflection of our relationship with time. Is our time full? Or is there space within it? Is there room to add things? Or is it all used up?
When our time is all used up, there is no time for additional tasks or -- perhaps more importantly -- there is no room for stillness. And our society has a love-hate (mostly hate) relationship with stillness. Some folks understand the value of stillness; most folks see being still as a sign of being lazy. It’s not.
As a business woman, I have learned that the most accurate gauge of my success isn’t reflected in how much of my time I use. Instead, it’s reflected in how WELL I use my time -- how PRODUCTIVE I am. When I’m productive, I am accomplishing things, I am finishing tasks, and I’m actually crossing things off whatever list I subscribe to. And, in order to be truly productive, I have got to incorporate open-space into my schedule. In other words, productivity and ‘jam-packed’ don’t go together. Which means that ultimately the experience of ‘success’ and ‘jam-packed’ don’t go together.
What does this mean in practical terms? For me, it means ensuring that there are pockets of white space in my calendar -- blank space, with nothing allotted to that time. Having that white space allows for a few things:
It allows me enough time to do the tasks I’ve set for myself, accommodating for when I underestimate how much time is actually needed
It allows me to accommodate curveballs -- unforeseen circumstances that arise
It allows me time to rest
It allows me time to take care of my own needs (eg, eat lunch, see the doctor, have a massage, go for a walk)
It allows my brain to take a break
Bottom-line: if you truly want to be successful -- no matter what your job or title -- ditch the idea that your schedule has got to be jam-packed. Jam-packed doesn’t make you a person of great importance or someone who’s better than anybody else. It makes you someone who doesn’t know how to prioritize yourself. And trust me when I say: truly successful person sees themselves as a priority and goes for productivity over general busy-ness.