Three Ways To Create Breathing Space

Are you super busy? I bet you are! Most of my nonprofit coaching clients are too. Each day brings new demands, crises and challenges which need to be dealt with.

I know for many of them, it’s a struggle to peek above the parapet, breathe and see the bigger picture. Thinking clearly and strategically, such an important part of a leadership role, can so easily get sacrificed in the challenge to get through the in-tray and to do list.

Is that true for you too?

Creating space is a priority

I’m increasingly convinced that we should be looking for the quieter, spacious moments in our days where we can breathe and think clearly. Where taking that space is the real priority, not a ‘slot in’.

The reason is that it’s in these moments of quiet that the real jewels lie. This is where the big ideas are. The innovations. The brave new solutions to challenges and problems.

Organising ourselves to the hilt, via productivity and time management strategies, is not really the answer to the big questions. The gems don’t emerge from long hours or meetings, or from ticking off the ‘to do’ list super quick. They don’t come out of all this ‘busyness’, which is actually not very good for us.

They come from space and time.

Leaders create space

The most successful leaders I know all make sure they build breathing space into their working weeks. Last year, when I interviewed social good CEOs for a series of videos, each one said that they made sure to create space for reflection. On the train, on a run, out with peers, it was a priority to find time to step out of the day to day every now and again and they did their very best not to miss out on this vital practice.

All knew that their people were their most valuable asset and made sure they felt happy and valued. Then they made time for themselves.

Give me some slack!

When we’re really up against it, we tend not to have our most creative ideas. In fact, time pressures limit this kind of thinking. In the current tricky climate, charity sector leaders need to be focusing on the bigger picture, looking for new insights and speaking confidently and bravely from a place of knowing. We need a bit of space to do this.

Here are my three top suggestions for how to find this breathing space

  1. Own your own time
    I invite my coaching clients, to remember that they are in charge. They can organise their own time. They choose. I encourage them to schedule some slack into their week unapologetically, and you can too. I love the idea of the untouchable’ day when everything is unplugged and you really can get the creative juices flowing. A whole day may be too ambitious right now but is it possible to find a regular morning or afternoon when you’re not to be disturbed?
  1. Take a step back
    Every now and again it’s so worth taking a look at the challenges you’re grappling with from a fresh perspective. The best ideas might come from taking an afternoon run in a nearby park, wandering about an exhibition or getting out into the countryside with a wise friend. You really don’t have to justify this to yourself or anyone else. It’s an investment in your self and in your organisation.
  1. Meet up with others
    Time spent with peers does wonders for tired thinking. Networking events and peer support groups get you out of the office, spark off new ideas, give you permission for courageous choices and challenge the edges of your comfort zone. How can you get this into your working life more regularly so that you can see things differently?

Over to you

Would you be interested in being a founder member of my new, London-based support and networking group? If you’d like the connection, encouragement and accountability that comes from being surrounded by like-minded peers, drop me an email and I’ll send you more information.

I’d love to hear what you plan to do to start creating a little space in your week. Leave me a comment below to let me know.

What next?

If you want help creating the space you need for big picture thinking, call me on 0208 772 7808 (or 07958 501 427) or drop me an email here.

Or you can book a no-cost, no obligation 30-minute Discovery Call direct.

We could be talking later today.   

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