The rain brought an early end to the walk with my puppy Nyx. It’s been raining for weeks in the UK. Two storms and an omnipresent wind. Punishment? Maybe.
We came home from the park with half an hour to spare before a meeting.
Usually, I’d jump in front of my laptop, check and email or two and the half-hour would fly by with sweet F-A to show for it.
A moment spent, unrecognisable to so many others.
But today, as I headed for the laptop, I passed a collection of Katherine Mansfield short stories that I had purposefully taken down from the shelf. I’m halfway through my own short story, and I wanted to freshen up on one of the best. Maybe I could even write a blog on it later.
As soon as I opened that book, I was transfixed. I start with the introduction that I read many years ago during my studies. I’m there, in a place of utter joy and happiness. I’m there with Katherine Mansfield in London and Paris at the turn of the last century. I’m there, and I haven’t even found my way to any of her stories yet. Bliss for half an hour; puppy on my lap and me leafing through the intro.
Then the alarm goes, and it’s back to work, but I feel different.
I’m focused and refreshed and feeling more emboldened to carry on with my day then I would have if I’d spent the break in front of my laptop. Among the to-do items, I’ve taken more from this half an hour than most other activities today.
We’ve got our to-do-lists, and we have our master goals but are we paying enough attention to the spaces in between. I fulfilled a couple of my objectives yesterday, sent work across to clients, but the real gold was this quiet half-hour with Katherine Mansfield.
Productivity is a worthy goal, but maybe it’s measurement of the wrong thing?
Perhaps we should measure what we do in the spaces in between the workload? Other things dictate work; deadlines, clients, financial situation, ego, triumphs and they all blend into one another, but what if the magic is in between these things.
There must be hundreds of opportunities to make more of the spaces in between; not by cramming more work into the cracks but by taking your mind off in a different direction.
In his book ‘Deep Work’ Cal Newport reports that versed deep thinkers can manage around 4 hours per day. What about the rest of us who have varying concentration capabilities. What else are we doing? What can we do with these spaces in between?
Space is a good thing. Space on the desk to concentrate. A space of one’s own to write and read. Space in a group to share your thoughts.
Space in the world to be yourself.
White space on a page is encouraged in blogging and screenwriting? Why? Because the magic happens in between the lines. The unspoken, processing the thinking time.
The subtext in any medium is fascinating to see; drama is working at its best in the place where nothing appears to be happening.
Is it the same with our time in between things? An illusion of calm, of nothing, is masking an internal roar in another direction? Away from our work, apart from our routine, those moments wrest us from a present.
How to make the most of them? Will scheduling in a moment in between ruin its fluidity? Maybe we should be aware of the best use of that time, away from automated activity and measurable outputs.
What do you do with your spaces in between? How many do you have?
This week I’m going to try adding a theme to my snippets of time in between. What about you?
Want to read more articles like this? Join the community of the curious here