I feel like I can always squeeze one more thing in a trash bag. My wife and I even had a fight about that our first year of marriage. For me, it wasn’t full yet and therefore did not need to go out because I was sure could still squeeze in one more thing. We laugh about this thirteen years later!
Many people, including me, adopt a similar approach to their personal schedule. But filling a schedule the way you feel a trash bag only makes sense if the items in your schedule have relatively little value. One more minor errand squeezed in probably makes very little difference.
But how would you pack something that includes items of value, like your grandmother’s fine china? Very carefully. With cushion wrapped around it. With sufficient space given for every piece. Because these things are important!
I have learned over time that I can’t be creative in a 15 minute time segment. Creativity needs room to be done well! Sure, the idea may come in a moment. Fleshing that idea out to its fullest is better done like barbecue, low and slow. Low heat, plenty of time.
Next time you’re tempted to squeeze one more thing into your schedule, decide what’s important. What will get squeezed if you make that choice? Take time to decide what should wait and what should not. Treat your activities with a real consideration of what is valuable to you.
One area I often attempt to squeeze things in is when I have a few extra minutes on the way to my next meeting with members of my team. Do you ever make this mistake? Instead of doing one more thing which will often make us late, what could we do with extra time if we get to the team meeting early? Here are a few options:
- Connect relationally with people who are there before we have to jump into the business at hand.
- Review the documents provided at the meeting to better acquaint ourselves with what is about to be covered.
- Look over notes from previous meetings to identify any missed items or new insights that should be considered.
- Look ahead to items later on the agenda to invest thought and prayer into how to do them more effectively.
- If nothing else is available, we could take time to journal or read a personal development book.
What happens if we run in late because we decided to try to squeeze in one more thing before heading to this meeting?
- We force our team to wait on us OR to re-cover items that we missed if they decided to start on time.
- We miss potentially important discussion.
- We come in with a cluttered mind, instead of a fresh mind.
Think about what’s important to you. And then make sure you give appropriate room on your schedule for those things. How does your calendar reflect your values?
Here’s a tool I developed to help you evaluate your activities. Feel free to download and use if it helps you.