Forget the people who tell you to protect your time. If you want to ramp up your productivity, you must learn to fiercely protect your space.
This was a great week. A productive week. Sure, I can focus on things I didn’t do (I always can); but for a moment I want to focus on all that I did accomplish this week.
Last Saturday, in trampoline practice, I stuck my landing on 6 consecutive front tucks — a new milestone. And I linked new skills together.
I accommodated showings of my real estate listings, met with new potential real estate clients, and I wrapped up two deals in my real estate practice. In real estate, drama tends to surface when you deal with inexperienced agents, as too often happens. When a tenant’s agent emailed my client to complain about her client being rejected (a major ethics violation) and lied about me in the process, I didn’t get defensive or embroiled in the drama. I created space and focused on the outcomes for me and my client.
I had two great coaching calls with a new client and had some of my own breakthroughs and a few major divine downloads about my work. I also gave myself space to be fully present on 4 hours of training calls and allowed time to properly process my notes from each call.
In addition to my morning workouts and twice-weekly trapeze practices, I fit in a mid-afternoon yoga class this week. I had a nourishing session with my bodyworker. To celebrate my milestones, I treated myself to an extra trapeze practice tonight.
I Wasn’t Busy
I did all of this without feeling “busy,” without hustling, and without reacting to the urgencies of the other people in my world.
Best of all, I did all of this without giving up the sacred space of my morning routine.
I brought a sense of spaciousness and presence to everything I did.
What I Need for My Best Work
I have learned that for me to show up in my full self — with full presence — I need the spaciousness of my morning routine. I need my rituals: my workout, meditation, and deep work time.
For me, full presence — whether on a training call, a client call, or while showing an apartment — includes allowing enough space before and after to process my notes and transition to my next activity.
When I Don’t Have Spaciousness
Without this buffer space, I feel suffocated, harried, frantic. I start to rush. I get short-tempered. I close off.
When I’m closed, I know I’m not feeling and I’m not listening. I’m not living in my truth.
And when I am not in my truth, I don’t bring my best work to anyone. I cheat my clients and cheat myself out of operating at my full potential.
If You’re Looking for Space, You Won’t Find It
For years, I struggled to find this space. Until I learned that it’s not something you find; it’s something you create. You must claim your space. And then you must protect it like a lioness protects her cubs.
Other people try to take my space all the time. They request my availability for morning meetings calls and appointments. I grant exceptions sparingly, and only after careful consideration.
This may seem uncompromising to some, but the stakes are high. This is my best work.
This is not About Protecting Time
We often read that the most successful people “protect their time.” Protecting my space is not about protecting my time. Protecting my space is about protecting my energy.
Time is fungible. What distinguishes times of day from each other is my energy: my focus, attention, and emotional state, among other things.
If it was just about time, then I could say “I will take this meeting in the morning and make time for deep work in the afternoon.”
My morning time is not the same as my afternoon time because my morning energy is not the same as my afternoon energy. My best creativity and flow comes in the morning, after my work out. If I don’t protect that space, I’ve lost it. Sure, I can get time later in the day. I cannot get that energy later in the day.
Similarly, the energy and attention I have immediately after a meeting or a call — when I’m already immersed in the topic from that experience — is different than my energy 1–2 hours later. If I want to make the most of what I learned, heard, or experienced — if I want to convert the information into knowledge — I must process my notes immediately, while I am still in the physical, mental and emotional environment of the event.
If a meeting or an appointment is not important enough for me to allow 30 minutes to process my notes from it immediately following the event, then why am I devoting energy to it in the first place?
Learning to Be Ok With What I Need
For many years, I try to adapt my style to model other people who perhaps don’t need as much space in their day. I’ve learned that when I try to take on too much, I don’t serve my clients well and I sacrifice myself. It’s not sustainable; it leads to burnout and resentment.
I’m slowly learning to accept that I’m not like everybody else.
I’m not a good multi-tasker (turns out, nobody is). What I do requires me to hold space for my clients. And that means I must hold space for myself. I need space to listen to my intuition and my inner voice of wisdom, to take inventory of my best ideas, and to see the bigger picture of the challenges I am asked to solve.
So I run my business differently. I don’t take on as many clients at once as others do.
When I give myself permission to work in a way that is aligned with my strengths, I serve my clients with a full heart and create extraordinary results.
This is why I protect my space fiercely.
By claiming and protecting my space, I stand in the value of what I do. I protect my best work.
My clients deserve nothing less.
I deserve nothing less.
What about you?