Mind the gap

Mind the gap sign with speeding train in London underground.We get so busy chasing, chasing, chasing things that we don’t slow down long enough to really examine where our time goes. We don’t know how to do everything we think we need to get done. Frustration increases. Burn out is on the horizon.

Of course, we have to make sure we’re chasing the right things. That’s a given.

If we’ve been good about identifying the things we really want, it can still be difficult to get it all done.

One thing you have to do is mind the gap. When I worked in London, I traveled by subway a lot. It was impossible to miss the signs painted on the platform that read, “Mind the Gap.”

The gap was the space between two pretty important things: the platform and the train car. If you weren’t paying attention and didn’t handle the gap properly, you had a lot to lose.

The gaps are the spaces between two important things: the time between arriving at the doctor’s office and when she actually sees you; between arriving at the airport and when your friend’s flight actually arrives; between arriving for a meeting and the time it actually starts.

Here are two critical questions: Are you aware of the gaps and are you doing something with them?

I had a terrible mindset about the gaps: What could I possibly do with an hour? Nothing, so let’s watch TV. I believed that I had to have a huge block of time and really get settled into work in order to be productive.

I came to learn that that was total nonsense — an excuse, justification for procrastinating, part of my strategy for running away from things I was afraid of.

Over time, I started using that hour to do something productive, even if it was just straightening up around the house.

Soon, I started identifying all the things I could get done in 30 minutes. It could be anything: making a few phone calls, sending emails, reading a book.

I even surprised myself when I started strategizing about how to use 15 minutes. And then 5 minutes. And then 3 minutes.

There’s a lot you can get done when you have the right mindset about where your time goes.

At any given time, I have multiple articles open on my cell phone to read when a small gap appears.

I have numerous books I’d like to write. When a gap appears, I scribble notes to myself or work on the outline of a new book in the Notes section of my phone.

During gaps, I can send emails or texts that need to get out; I can read a book on my phone or my Kindle; I can play the guitar for a few minutes if the gap appears when I’m at home.

My procrastination turned into productivity.

So try this:

Every morning, take a couple of minutes to look at your schedule for the day. See when you have meetings, errands, or family obligations (they should all be on your calendar). Identify the potential gaps. Decide what specific thing you will get done today during your gaps.

In a short time, your vision about what’s possible will change as you start getting more and more done in the course of your day.

Get the Nerve!

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About Joe Serio

Dr. Joe Serio is a keynote speaker, trainer, and author who helps the people in your organization navigate resistance to change so they can move forward successfully.

One Response

  1. Beverly Gentle says:

    Hi Joe,
    Love the article!!! A phrase with meaning, “minding the gap” cautionary in use but an epiphany for me, turning procrastination into productivity. WOW, you have definitely struck a cord, good stuff so relevant and on POINT! Time to make some changes…I AM a procrastinator when it comes to things I don’t want to do, no excuses, simply factual. The consequence of My choice is often frustration, stress anxiety etc. all unhealthy and avoidable. Duh, I mean an AHA moment! This ain’t rocket science, I’m not minding the gap, or using my time wisely. Yes, I knew that but keep justifying it by accepting responsibility of my choice. It sounds crazy saying or reading but true nonetheless. I’ve allowed procrastination to exist by choosing to except the consequence of my choice, which is nothing but a creative excuse/self manipulation for not taking action. Dr. Joe, I needed to read this and you could have just sent the email to me. You just gave me the mirror and I saw exactly what I am going to change! Thanks for your insight….and keeping it REAL!

     

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