A double mastectomy was enough to let one woman clear her schedule. What about you?
I was reading an article in the March issue of Fortune about Esther Dyson and her position as stand-by cosmonaut. After first turning down the option to be a backup crew member on a Space Adventure flight because she was busy elsewhere, Esther had a epiphany. Shortly after turning down the opportunity and faced with double booking her time, she found herself thinking if only she had just had a double mastectomy, like her sister just had, she could clear her schedule.
Cue the cymbol clash and lightening bolt! Esther realized “Wow! There is something wrong with your life if you need a double mastectomy to clear your schedule. You need a better excuse.” For her it was changing her mind and saying ‘yes’ to her life long dream of space flight. She cleared months of time to attend space training camp in a snap.
You can start with all the buts – but she has money to burn and I need an income – but I have a family – but… you get the idea. When I read her words, I knew a blog post was in front of me. What was resonating was the idea that we are pushed to plan and fill our time and to view it as set in stone. Busy-ness and a full calendar have become equated with success and fulfillment. Even when an unexpected emergency causes us to abandon our plans, we try to pick it all back up and squeeze it in somehow.
We need to take a more flexible, less stuffed view of our time. Following Pareto’s Principle – the 80/20 rule – probably 80% of what you planned for today has no real lasting impact on your life or your business. It’s minutia that, left undone, has no impact but it fills our time and wears us down.
Look at that pile of projects sitting on the corner of your desk. Other than taking up space, creating a lot of guilt and negative pressure has there been any lasting impact in leaving it undone?
Interesting question! Life changing question. Again using Pareto, maybe only 20% of that pile is highly impactful or maybe 20% has no lasting impact. You need to decide. But more importantly, what is important enough for you to clear your calendar? What would you jettison today if you knew you were going into the hospital for surgery tomorrow followed by 3 weeks of recovery? What about jettisoning the same items to attend a game your kid really wants you to see, or lunch with a friend or just for time to sit quietly and think? What about something that moves you closer to a long-held dream like Esther?
What is worth clearing a space for in your calendar?