I spend an hour and a half a day (five days a week) solely in commuting. May not seem significant, but if you look at it on a larger scale, that’ s approximately 390 hours a year I spend driving to and from work. That’s 390 hours of Free Space.
So what is Free Space and how can we use it to optimize our personal and professional growth?
My home-grown definition of Free Space is something like this: the pocket(s) of time that is generated as a result of transitioning from one activity/location to the next.
As I became more aware of my own Free Space, I found more and more of it. And it was rather overwhelming to look at the activities (or lack thereof) during those pockets of time and how little they were adding value to me and my life.
It was literally like a light bulb moment for me – when I quickly saw these as opportunities in my life to continue building on my foundation as a wife, a mother, a professional, and as a contributor in society.
So let me be explicit in what it looks like to fill that Free Space with intention and purpose and how you can quickly turn those previously negative Free Spaces into some of your most positive, life-changing pockets of time.
Originally, I considered my commute the worst part of my day. This was a disadvantage to me because it set the tone for the work day ahead, and while coming home, it would set the tone for the rest of the evening with my family. I was either road ragin’ through rush hour, feeling guilty by the absence of my family, or just generally stewing on work/life problems; all of which were attracting AND projecting negativity into my life. With the realization that there had to be something I could be doing during this time other than listening to music, I found some podcasts I liked. And as a self-development junkie, I picked anything and everything within that realm.
That’s when everything changed for me. Not only was I re-establishing the pattern of my moods during those pockets of time, I was adding overall value to my life/well-being by the content of the podcasts I was listening to. (FYI – Some of my other current favorite podcast stations are JLD Interview Entrepreneurs on Fire, Startup, Smart Passive Income, and Dear Sugar.)
Here’s another example.
I found that I spent about 15-20 minutes a morning (generally) lying in bed either perseverating on what I was going to wear or the responsibilities that lay ahead that day. That’s approximately 91 hours of time a YEAR. At 2 minutes per page, that’s potentially 2,730 pages of reading I could be doing in that transition time which is theoretically a lost opportunity of about 10 books (at 250 pages per book). MIND BLOWN!
We have to STOP just going through the motions of our everyday busy-ness without awareness and intention. This behavior results in the failure to LIVE AND LEAD WITH PURPOSE.
My day may look a little bit or very different than yours, but we all have those Free Spaces in our day that are either currently not being utilized efficiently, or are being consumed with wasted energy and focus.
CALL TO ACTION: I challenge you to closely monitor your schedule over the course of a few days, and identify pockets of time – a.k.a Free Space – that you can fill with more value-added, purposeful activity (meditating, reading, writing, etc.). This intentional behavior will incredibly impactful in slowly allowing you to achieve balance and lead every day with intention.
Happy Free Space-ing!