Change Catalyst with Shanna Mann: Strategy & Support for Sane Self-Employment

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The Scalable Factor of Time

A couple of weeks ago, Sarah asked what the scaleable factor of time was. I answered “spaciousness”, but I recognize that’s not a word that necessarily means much to people, so I’ll explain:

All The Time in the World

One of my favorite memories from college is of a day that pretty much floated by.

I had a salon appointment downtown, and because parking was so hard to find, I decided I would bus. The buses went by every half hour, so when one bus was cutting it a little short for me to be there in time, I took the next earlier one.

I was standing at the bus stop, enjoying one of the very few warm school days in Saskatoon (it was early May, as I recall) and I decided, “Look, I’m already half an hour early. I’ll just walk.”

That extra half hour gave me the leisure to saunter my way down the tree-lined streets. Unbelievably (although this happens to me every time and I have yet to figure out the laws of physics that govern this phenomenon) sauntering got me to the salon faster than walking with purpose ever had.

This is objective time; by my watch. Subjective time, it felt like a very pleasant half-hour stroll, although it was not quite 20 minutes.

Buoyed by the extra time, I checked at the salon, verifying they were running on time, and strolled down to Broadway Coffee for a treat. I browsed some shops. I bought my mom a Mothers Day gift and then strolled back for my appointment.

Afterwards, I had nearly an hour and a quarter to get to campus. I had left myself extra time because you can never tell when a salon will be running on time. So I checkout the listings on the local independent movie house, and then I took another leisurely walk down the quiet, historic, tree-lined streets to the campus, admiring the picturesque gardens and houses.

I got to campus 40 minutes early, and as I walked into the Arts building, I saw Meagan, a lifelong friend I rarely got to see, since she was always either working, studying or in class. So the cherry on top of that already wonderful day was having a spare half hour to catch up.

My Point, and I Do Have One…

That’s what I mean by spaciousness: it’s not that I had nothing to do, but I left so much space between them that even if everything went wrong, I wouldn’t have to worry, and if things went well I could really enjoy myself.

I’ve been a GTDer since it was first published almost a decade ago, and I’m very familiar with the concept of filling every available minute with a pre-selected matrix of tasks to ensure optimal efficiency. But I’ve become convinced that optimal efficiency is not the metric to aim for with time.

The fuller you fill your time, the less you enjoy it. The more spaciousness you have, the more sweet even the most tedious and mundane experiences become.

As your days move more tranquilly, the more easeful your life becomes, and the more important stuff gets done. It’s really quite amazing.

And lest you think, “Bah! This is all so simplistic. You have it easy!” let me tell you, it requires significant discipline to do maintain simplicity. Life assaults you at every turn, trying to ramp up the urgency, sell you on complexity, tell you there are more important ways to spend your time.

It’s a discipline, alright. Anyone can be busy.

Your Turn

How do you create a sense of spaciousness in your life? Share your tips in the comments!