Most people live their lives on other people’s terms. Their days are spent achieving other people’s goals and submitting to other people’s agendas. Their lives have not been consciously organized in such a way that they command every waking, and sleeping, moment of their life. Instead, they relentlessly react at every chance they get…
Creators focus on outputs rather than the general populace who focus on inputs. In their free moments, creators utilize their subconscious breakthroughs. Their days are filled with creative bursts, making them incredible at their craft. – Benjamin Hardy
I made a discovery this past month that is so obvious, it’s almost embarrassing. Filed under “why didn’t I think of that,” it goes like this:
Just because the time slot is open in your calendar, doesn’t mean it’s available when someone requests it.
Obvious, I know but I’m not the only one who forgets this from time to time. We forget others don’t see our calendars and we think we need to provide an excuse why we can’t accept an invitation, and most of us don’t want to lie. Or, we don’t even think, and just see the open time slot and fill it.
Lately I’ve become much more comfortable saying I’m not available. No need to explain. In fact, more often than not, the other parties involved couldn’t care less “why not.” They just want to know when. So instead of focusing on why not now, you can tell them when.
This realization is hugely helpful when it comes to getting things done (GTD). If I scheduled up all my time when people requested, I lose control of the time to do the things that are important to me, like that big creative client project, a new initiative for my business, a long trail run in the woods with my dog, or that upcoming talk on PR Measurement.
It turns out ultra-productive people (of which I do not consider myself, but I’m no slacker) live by a similar rule. They tend not to use to-do lists but block out times on their calendar not for appointments only but also for their regular time of reflection, writing, etc.
I don’t go to that extreme, but I have found that, as guilty as it makes me feel to accept a coffee date or brainstorming invitation by scheduling it three weeks out, I keep from getting breathlessly busy. Being busy is not a badge of honor.
I don’t work well under pressure. In fact, I pretty much hate that kind of work. I need space, I need quiet and I need time. Time to let things meld together so I can go back and change and make it better. I like stepping away from it, and returning with fresh eyes. I like scrolling through my newsfeed with new perspective looking for trends in the news or a dialogue with someone to shape whatever it is I’m working on.
Don’t get me wrong; it doesn’t make the creative process any easier. I still go through what is pictured here.
This is how projects and ideas without deadlines get done. Now your day isn’t filled to the brim with inputs but you can dedicate some time to outputs. I use that time to turn off all notifications, finish that new talk I am giving, write an ebook, work on an event I want to have, create a wine club for my husband’s winery, take a long weekend off. The list of ideas that will never get done can go on and on if you don’t leave time open for it.
You have every right to be selfish with your time. It’s way too precious to give up control on how you use it.
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Kate Finley says
Great post. I struggle with feeling guilty for not scheduling meetings immediately or same week. It’s super hard for me to justify scheduling things further out but I’m getting better at it. It’s very easy for me to think about new ideas for my business most of the time. I’d like to see more of that time go to others. Right now, I have set certain days of the week to focus on certain types of projects and creative thinking. Mondays are focused on my team and administrative stuff that needs done, Tuesdays are about business development, Wednesdays I pack a bunch of meetings in, Thursday is client strategy day and Friday I do business development again.
Craig McBreen says
Love the graphic… thanks for making me laugh 😉 But I think the green part should be even smaller.
Love the post! I get way more selfish with my time the older I get. It’s a good-selfish.
Wonderful. Thanks for the healthy reminder.