Being busy feels good. There are multiple reasons why. It feels like we're accomplishing more, as there is no quicker shortcut to the goal-driven ego then a packed schedule. In today's world, we also get street cred for announcing how busy we are - the ultimate humblebrag.
There is one big thing you miss in your overscheduled day: opportunity. While it may feel good flitting from one meeting to the next, wiser entrepreneurs actually allow space for the unexpected client, epiphany or pivot. Think of it like leaving room in your coffee mug for cream and sugar: You don't want to have a completely empty cup, but you do want to provide a space for more.
And we wonder why we have all these ambitions, yet are in the same place months or even years later. There needs to be room for you to pursue them! How can new avenues be reached if you don't give yourself space to move forward?
The secret is learning how to unbundle your schedule to allow room for improvisation. Here are three simple ways:
Say "No" more: The tough truth is that to give space in your schedule, you absolutely have to turn certain things away. It actually will not only make your schedule lighter, but it could raise your respect among others. As I shared in the Inc. column 3 Smart, Strategic Ways to Say No and Save Your Relationships, "There are amazing collaborators, clients and mentors I would love to work with right now, but as I focus in on my core business, I've had to gently let them know that our time to work together isn't here... yet. It leaves the door open for later opportunities and also confirms that you respect other people's time and are keen not to waste it."
Create a Blank Day: A so-called blank day is a period of time quarantined off like a meeting day, but it is dedicated to no particular cause. It isn't a day off, but rather a day to maximize with strategic planning, organization or other productive activities that usually go by the wayside in the daily grind. The best part is that any plans for a blank day can be adjusted quickly if a new opportunity arises.
Assume the empty space will be filled: Perhaps the most challenging part about leaving room in our schedule is that we assume that space won't be filled, as if having a free half hour will doom us to sitting somewhere bored. As an entrepreneur, you can bet that the time between meetings or events will become packed with a suddenly productive idea, a burst of career housekeeping or an unexpected client call.
Remember, most of us lean towards overscheduling because we don't give room for the unexpected. If that's the case, then underscheduling should lead you to a calendar that is just right.