A sliver of space.
I love that phrase and cannot take credit for it. It is a gift from my friend Alli Polin.
Do you make sure you have your slivers of space? Alli asked in a tweet.
I knew exactly what she was talking about. I had just had a coaching chat with Steve, CFO of global high-tech firm. I simply never have time to do everything I am supposed to do on any given day, Steve says. The worst part is running from one meeting to the next to the next. I just keep running. I never stop.
Steve is yearning for a sliver of space.
The moment when we can reflect on what just happened.
The moment when the mental fog lifts.
The moment when meaning becomes clear.
The moment when we surprise ourselves.
And we don’t need all that much time for this to happen. We simply need a sliver of space.
Langevin Learning Services, the largest train-the-trainer company in the world, had this all figured out. When I worked for Langevin as a course leader, back in the late 90s, I usually delivered 3-day training programs. That’s the training version of the long-distance run.
The Langevin slivers of space? Yes, we had the prerequisite breaks. But each break was followed by a 5-minute-transition-period. We’d do a puzzle. We’d show a cartoon. Something light. It was our sliver of space. This is when participant brains could switch gears. Digest whatever messages they had received during the break. Settle back into learning mode. Become “present” again.
Our 5-minute-fluff-time was not wasted time. It was harness-the-energy-time. It was accelerated-learning-time.
We have a coffee-maker in our office. But I finally “got” that jumping into my convertible and driving to Starbucks is not wasted time. It’s my sliver of space. The change of scenery invigorates me. The sun supercharges me. My productivity boomerangs. Always.
And I don’t do caffeine.
As you engage in your work activities this week, ask yourself: Do I have enough slivers of space?
The key word is “sliver.” Finite. Miniscule. Brief. Your moments of unstructured freedom.
A sliver can happen in mere minutes, seconds. So consider your slivers of space. Consider adding more. And watch the quality of your work explode as the slivers proliferate!