Think back to your worst day of work last year. The moment in time where you were absolutely frantic. When you knew you needed a holiday and that you were busy losing your “friggen” mind.
The type of day that your PC keeps randomly shutting down or saying: “not responding” and 25 things are due at COB, you mess cranberry juice in your beige-pants crotch, you make several written-warning-level mistakes, upset your boss and someone asks when the baby is due (and there is no baby).
The type of day that you find 24-hour lipstick on your teeth and a bushel of spinach tucked in there too … after 20 meetings with everyone important. The type of day where you think back to 09:00 when you needed to tinkle – but you never actually did – it’s like your bladder just absorbed it and it is 21:00.
The type of day where you work on ten projects at once and you keep forgetting what you were busy with; so, you keep changing and in-between you are answering every email, guiding your mom through booking tickets online over WhatsApp and wishing the 15 strangers whose birthday it is on Facebook, a happy birthday.
You drive home and think “shuckles” – did I even stop at the red robots? After that two-second thought, you think of the gourmet meal you will whip up when you get home, but settle for Dr Oetker’s pizza eventually; because you still need to catch up on those mails, check-in with the two friends you have left, love your pets, bath, try read and get enough sleep that you are acceptably civil the next day.
And the next thing you know it’s 12 O’clock – you spent three-quarters of your salary on online shopping; then the designated hour on social media before you pass out. Waking every hour from nightmares about the work you completed a month ago (and your matric exams that in the dream you never studied for) – merged with what is due in the next week. And you wake up at 05:00 and you climb on the hamster wheel again…
Perhaps you had so many days like that last year that this day described, isn’t a particular day but more of an overview of an average day at the office. And it tends to get worse at the end of the year…
We have forgotten the art of the pause; even a brief pause. The pause can now be found swimming amongst the dodos, dinosaurs and Voldemort (after all the horcruxes were destroyed). We don’t breathe a second between breakfast and REM sleep. One activity rolls into the next; we multitask to the point of frenzy; we don’t live in the moment and we often thrive on the drive of busyness.
It has become addictive – we check our email during intense thinking stages of projects; we text and Facebook while in meetings/spending quality time with loved ones/watching TV and even while driving. We have lost all sense; going lightyears faster than what we should – not reflecting, not taking stock, not PAUSING.
As mentioned in one of previous Oh My Sparkle Posts, A Summit of Thanks – I am a massive fan of the Global Leadership Summit. One of the 2017 speakers, Juliet Funt speaks on the topic of “WhiteSpace” or the Strategic Pause.
Funt says that businesses’ top- and bottom-lines suffer from the busyness/franticness that surrounds the workplace; productivity SUFFERS. Yes, you may feel like you are doing more but you aren’t. Our relationships and personal lives also suffer from the “god” of busyness we worship.
So how does Funt classify WhiteSpace:
The Notion of WhiteSpace
1. WhiteSpace is not meditation. Meditation is a disciplinary experience where your mind returns over and over to a single point of focus.
2. WhiteSpace is not mind-wandering. Mind-wandering is when your mind slips away without permission.
3. WhiteSpace is not mindfulness. Mindfulness is when you take all senses and energy and put them on one thing before you.
Rather, WhiteSpace has no rulebooks and no goals. It is boundary-less freedom where the mind can play, improvise and think new thoughts. Sitting and looking out the window, colouring-in as you reflect, reclining with a cuppa-something or whatever consitutes as WhiteSpace for you. It’s taking strategic pauses in-between projects or segements of your day.
So, what is the driving force behind our busyness? What ultimately hijacks our productivity? Funt speaks of the thieves of productivity that in the right measurement is necessary for us to be successful individuals; but when overdone steals our productivity, creativity and clarity of mind. They are:
1. Drive – a great attribute but when overdone becomes corrupted and turns into: OVERDRIVE.
2. Excellence – again a necessary evil; but when overdone or corrupted, leads to PERFECTIONISM.
3. Information – loving facts, figures, data and info is great; but when obsessing with research, it can lead to an info OVERLOAD.
4. Activity – making checklists and completing activities again is a necessary evil but when overdone turns into FRENZY.
What’s important is knowing what your thief is. Is it drive to improve, get better, be better, push yourself, taking on more and strive? Is it to get stuck on the details so much so that your perfectionism means you aren’t being productive? Do you feast on research, data, spreadsheets, facts, info etc. to the point of overload? Or is it your ultimate to make checklists listing all your activities – and make them and check them and make them and check them and make them and check them?
If we don’t fight the thieves actively, they will fill the space of our strategic pauses… our WhiteSpace.
Funt says we have to “de-crapify” our lives. And says we need to ask the following:
1. For Drive, ask: Is there anything I can let go of?
2. For Excellence, ask: When is “good enough” good enough?
3. For Information, ask: What do I truly need to know?
4. For Activity, ask: What deserves my attention now?
Visit www.WhiteSpacegls.com for activities that will assist your freedom from the thieves.
AND FINALLY – WHITESPACE AT HOME
A father walked to his wife and daughter one sultry summers day and said it is a beautiful day and that they should pack a picnic basket and go for a good-old-fashioned road trip into the countryside. So, he gets packing. First, the chilled pink lemonade with ice-chips, then the flower-patterned picnic mugs and plates, then the padkos – delicious ham, mustard, crisp lettuce and cheese sandwiches, on whole-wheat bread and several other delicious treats.
Finally, he places the red and white checkered blankie in the basket. He turns to his wife and says let’s go honey-bun. She says no; she can’t. She is too busy. But she suggests that he takes their daughter and have fun, which they do – the whole day! And even eat a vanilla-and-strawberry, soft-serve ice-cream, before heading home. The daughter exclaims that it was the best day ever!
And then her father died two days later. Her mother expresses every year, years later that she so regrets not going on the trip.
So please, embrace WhiteSpace. Go on that trip. Pause and look at what your kids are trying to show you and listen to the advice your mom is trying to give you. It may be the last thing the kids show you or the last words your mother ever speaks to you. Take that pause… in the home, in the workplace and beyond…