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Linda Samuels, CPO-CD®

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« How to Fill Your Time With Amazing Moments | Unique Way to Manage Mind Clutter »

What Happens When Your Time is Crammed and Overscheduled?

Last month we focused our conversations around clutter. This month we’re shifting gears to talk about time- how we manage it, how we manage ourselves, what our challenges are, and more. Today I’m thinking about what happens when we have so much going on every day that there’s no time left for not doing. We’re so busy that we don’t even give ourselves any transition time. We’re overscheduled and overwhelmed. Does this sound familiar? Do you wake up each day knowing that you can’t possibly accomplish all the items on your list?

In general, I’m a pretty good manager of my time. However, something surprising happened to me this past weekend. My husband and I sat down to discuss our summer fun and vacation plans. Even though I was looking forward to all the things we wanted to do, I found myself getting very stressed, even a little freaked out. As we started looking at dates, I saw weekends disappearing.

One of my goals for 2015 is to be more conscious of the white space in my calendar. To me that white space represents unplanned time. It’s potential time when I can relax, do, or not do. I can say “yes” to something on a whim because there’s the space to do that. The white space is like a free pass. With the many commitments that I do have, that white space becomes essential for my sanity and well-being.

So, as Steve and I planned, instead of feeling happy and excited, I felt anxious. While this wasn’t pleasant to experience or watch, it was important to identify what I was feeling, understand the significance, and embrace being uncomfortable. By doing that I realized that I am the guardian of my own white space. Duh. No one is saying, “Linda, you have to schedule every waking moment on your calendar.”  In fact, my body had a visceral reaction when I thought I was going to over-schedule my time. My reaction was so intense (and impossible to ignore) that it prevented me from making all of the decisions we wanted to make.

Here’s what happened. We prioritized. We made a few plans. We kept some weekends free. We might choose to secure a few more dates on the calendar, but for now I’m guarding that white space. What my mind understood earlier this year, my body reminded me of loudly and clearly.

How much white space do you need? How do you manage and protect your time? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Come join our conversation.






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Reader Comments (13)

Linda this is a very powerful topic. Taking care of myself is important to me as I believe that if I take good care of myself I am better able to take care of others and serve my clients. A couple of years ago I decided that I would set aside one day to play every week. I have stuck to that and use that day to recharge my battery. Sometimes, I engage in a fun activity and sometimes I spend the day quietly just puttering around. Good for you for protecting the white space in your calendar!

June 2, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterDiane Quintana

Linda, this post is so topical in my life right now. I just got back from weekend away number two with one more to go this weekend. Sometimes we don't have control of how we spend our time. We have "non negotiable" -- family reunions, 50th getaways, things like that. So instead of using my energy to be stressed and exhausted, I am trying to protect my white space. Finding time in the calendar over the next few weeks to have no plans, catch up to just be. It's not easy to find that balance but I believe digging deep to know what you need is the first step. Thanks Linda for such a timely topic.

June 2, 2015 | Unregistered Commenterleslie josel

I'm so glad you mentioned this, because I think so many of us can identify with the "disappearing summer weekend" phenomenon. On the one hand, summer seems to stretch out endlessly before us, but when you pull out the calendar, you see that you've got about 9 weekends. Funny that we both wrote about time this week - great minds! A few goals, brought to fruition, beats a long list that never leaves the page.

June 2, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterSeana Turner

In some cases I say no to myself. I can't squeeze all the things I would want to do in a day, weekend, month, etc; so I need to say no to the less important, less gratifying or less meaningful and focus on those task will benefit the most. Exactly the same way I say no to commitments to other people.
Saying no to others is equally important as saying no to myself and schedule just things I know will benefit instead robbing my peace and time.

June 2, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterNacho Eguiarte

Linda, I find year after year, time seems to speed up. More so this year when the winter was sooooooo longgggggggggggggg, We were also planning some activities this summer with our son in mind, and realized it was June already. Instead of focusing on enjoying the summer, I am now dreading the upcoming winter. This is a good reminder to go with the flow and un-focus on the future and enjoy the now.

June 2, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJill Robson

I love the idea of white space in your calendar! Great advice and excellent topic. We all need these gentle reminders.

June 2, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterKathi Burns, CPO

Normally I understand exactly how you were feeling Linda. But this year is a bit different. We have one vacation in the middle to the Jersey shore and the rest of the time we are just home having fun and being hometown or state tourists. I have some activities planned and I'm hoping it all goes well with me working more from home and my son entertaining himself.
I think fall is when I will start to feel time slipping by quickly. I love fall and sometimes it goes so fast from summer to winter. So I hope you find more white space in your calendar! We are taking it easy this summer! :)

June 2, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterAutumn Leopold

Guess what everyone! It's "white space" time. So glad to be here with all of you.

@Diane- Totally inspiring! Ellen Delap recently wrote about that in one of her comments. She also has one day per week just to play and recharge. It's something to work towards. I'm not there yet.

@Leslie- I like the term you use, "non negotiable." The key is recognizing that only some of the things are that. The rest of the time has the possibility for being white space worthy. The key is intentionally securing it. Looks like you've got the right idea.

@Seana- I'm going to check out your post now. Two peas in a pod we are, right? As you said, the summer feels so long when in fact there are only "9" weekends.

@Nacho- The power of "no!" So important to activate that little word whether it's to others or yourself. If not, that white space just vanishes and leaves us feeling stressed and overwhelmed.

@Jill- Focusing on the now is a gift. It's not always so easy to do, as you've discovered. You might like two posts I wrote that focus on enjoying now- "Now is Better" and "Enjoy the Moments." Here are the links:

@Kathi- Here's to securing some white space for you!

@Autumn- Bravo to you and your family for dialing down the activities and focusing on mostly local fun. That sounds like a wonderful way to enjoy this season. Time is funny in how it can seem like it's passing slowly or quickly depending upon the circumstance and perspective. Thank you for your words of support to secure more white space.

June 2, 2015 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

Love this post! I have a rule for myself. I don't schedule more than one weekend away a month. It's a great boundary for me since it makes me choose what is most important. Having all the other weekends to rejuvenate makes my life better.

Thanks for bringing us all together for this important topic.

June 4, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterEllen Delap

Ellen- I love how clear you are with your boundaries. This past year I traveled more than usual. There were some months where I definitely was away more than one weekend per month. And while I love to travel and the trips were exciting, it also was more challenging to recharge with so many comings and goings. As you said, having that extra space makes life less stressful and more enjoyable.

June 4, 2015 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

I love having places to go and things to do, especially during the summer, but I need a free weekend at least once a month to regroup, mentally and emotionally.

June 12, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJanet Barclay

Wonderful concept and beautifully written, as always. One thing that struck me is the opposite of the white space; how you take the time and energy to commit to where and how you will spend your scheduled time (planning) -- the intentional 'yeses.' White space (free time) is even more meaningful when there is clarity and purpose to the surrounding time blocks.

June 12, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterSusan Lasky

Great hearing from you both!

@Janet- I know what you mean about enjoying the activity, but also needing "free" time to not be committed to others. I'm working towards more white space. Not there yet.

@Susan- Thanks so much. Love the perspective you've shared about our intentions in the non-white space. And how right you are that when we're clear about what we're doing with our time, then the white space becomes "more meaningful." Appreciate you sharing with us.

June 14, 2015 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

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