I have heard people describe February in the worst of terms – from the ‘dark ether’ to ‘Febru-hell,’ this is a busy and rough month for many. The weather oscillates between brittle cold and teasing spring temperatures. Football is over, which for some, is very sad. The holiday bills continue to hit, and we begin to think of what we may owe in taxes. The post-holiday weight gain is not just visiting for a short stay – it has changed its address to our butts, thighs, and bellies (sigh). And, despite the short month, there are no natural breaks. Without self-care strategies, this stretch of 28 days can feel a bit draining.
To maintain energy for the work you have ahead, consider good calendar stewardship. My clients and colleagues often describe how important it is to have ‘white space’ on their calendar. They need time between meetings to move, take care of the body, prepare, reflect, and strategically think about what is next. It is not realistic to always relegate this vital time to our morning showers, teeth-brushing, or drives to and from work. We have been hired or selected to do meaningful work because we have smart brains and caring hearts. With this in mind, we need time to nourish those brains and hearts in productive ways. To begin, stop trying to block the same time each week for yourself if all you do is allow that time to be scheduled by other things. You need a new strategy. Instead, consider the following:
Notice, I am not emphasizing 30, 60, or 90-minute time frames. Microsoft, Google and others may be to blame for our inability to honor every minute in the day as equal. Why schedule a 30-minute sit-down meeting if the conversation can happen standing in less than 10 minutes? Not everything in our working lives needs to be planned in generic blocks. If we re-wire some of this thinking, we can gain back lots of minutes. For example, back in 1995 NASA did research on the ideal length of time for a nap. If you believe their research, the answer is 26 minutes! You do not actually need those four extra minutes. You can use them as awake time and if you think that may not be enough to be productive – just remember how much an unsupervised toddler can accomplish in four minutes!
Calendar stewardship is just one tactic to help with the lows of February. As you gain back your time in small increments – you can use it to oscillate through your day and sustain your energy. Harness the time for reflection, organization, or merely to get some work done! Your body, brain, and heart may feel blessed by the effort.
How do you currently manage sacred time on your calendar?
Carrie Arnold, PhD, MCC, BCC
In no particular order: Author | Dog mom to Moose | Speaker | Reader Mom to human offspring Wife | Lover of Learning Leadership coach & consultant, The Willow Group | Fellow, Institute for Social Innovation | Program Director for Evidence-Based Coaching at Fielding Graduate University