A Counter-Cultural Movement: Creating More Space
I was given the gift of space on my calendar this morning when a client asked to reschedule a meeting. And within that space, several serendipitous things happened.
Initially, I sat in my chair listening to the chatter across the office. I reflected on our culture, on teammates and on the work we do. Moments later, I walked across the office and stopped for two conversations I normally would have rushed past. In one, we spit-balled creative ideas. In another, I caught up with a colleague on our personal lives and on the status of a client project.
It was good to have that space for reflection, connection, creativity and spontaneity.
It was also counter-cultural.
“If you live in America in the 21st century, you’ve probably had to listen to a lot of people tell you how busy they are,” says Tin Kreider in his New York Times article, The Busy Trap. “It’s become the default response when you ask anyone how they’re doing.”
Kreider adds that in most cases, the grumbling is usually bragging “disguised as a complaint.”
And there’s something to this. Many societies today have made a cult out of busyness. In her book, Overwhelmed: Work, Love and Play When No One Has the Time, Washington Post writer Brigid Schulte says that most of us limp through our busy schedules assigning status based on who has the most meetings, activities and commitments.
I’m often right there too.
I feel more rewarded by society (and by my own insecurities) to be a space filler rather than a space creator. If I have time on my calendar, I feel pressure to schedule it. Having nothing to do can bring fear, anxiety and boredom. I’m falling behind, I think to myself. But then I remember that this is rarely the case. What I need to remember more often is that space usually makes for reflection, connection, creativity and spontaneity.
Open calendar space is when nothing is scheduled, unless it’s scheduled time to be open. Some people I know, for example, schedule meetings with themselves to work on their business rather than in their business.
If open calendar space is just about having more time to do email, it’s not truly open.
I’m committed to being more of a space creator than a space filler. As I wrote in my article Dedicate Time and Space to Being Not Doing, it’s virtuous to work hard and with urgency. The key is to do it with a counter-cultural calendar intentionality.
How about you? Space filler or space creator?