Where did all the white space go?

After a couple of chaotic weeks, bouncing from one deliverable to the next – I sat back and thought to myself, “Where did all the white space go?”

Cry for Help and a Cliché
White Space AprilAre you one of those workaholic’s that is constantly fending off the constant borage of meetings, both meaningful and fruitless? How do you find time to get your actual job responsibilities accomplished? When do you take bio-breaks or even check emails?

It is a cliché these days, but we fundamentally lack essential white space on our calendars to get even the most basic of tasks completed—which inevitably takes more and more time away from non-work-related activities. As a seasoned workaholic, I sometimes drive home from work blurry-eyed only realize I hadn’t used the restroom all day or sometimes even have the urge to plop down on the elevator floor on my way out of the office—admittedly these are the days that should be labeled #cryforhelp

Taking Back the Space
I have read many articles, talked to trusted advisors and observed many experienced colleagues in action—and while company cultures vary and job responsibilities change, there are a few go-to tactics that I consistently utilize to take back my calendar.

Here are a few key tactics to try, so get your pen and paper out and be prepared to cut the proverbial cord with your Outlook, Google, or old school notebook calendar:

No Meeting Meetings – I have mastered the Calendarart of scheduling what I refer to as “no meeting” meetings on my calendar each morning.

These scheduled blocks of time often look like standard 1- to 2-hour meetings to anyone investigating my availability in Outlook. However, these are blocks of time I set aside for specific tasks, from checking emails to completing my own deliverables.

Don’t be a Pushover – being a “yes man” can make you feel like your organization’s knight in shining armor in the moment, but could ultimately suck you in like quick sand, quickly suffocating you and depriving you of free time. Again, another cliché, but you must learn to say “no”.

As a standard since my days in public accounting, I decline all meetings that do not contain a purpose or context into the “why” of the conversation. The intention is to compel colleagues to define the rationale behind the meeting, because all too often we are sucked into meetings that may be more an FYI, as opposed to actionable tasks—and in that case, it is best to utilize the power of an email.

Breaks by Design—one of the greatest pieces of advice I received in the way of time management came during my time at Amazon. This concept of taking 1-hour meetings and condensing them into 45 minutes and 30-minute meetings into 25 minutes—why? The answer: out of consideration your colleague’s Maslow needs, because who needs bio, email and sanity breaks in between a day littered with meetings?

Allowing yourself and your colleagues that 5 to 15 minute span of time to regroup between meetings allows for better prepared team members further downstream in the day. Why not give it a try and lead by example? Sure you’ll get a few awkward stares or even some raised eyebrows, but sometimes being a little peculiar is a good thing…it may just be the type of constructive disruption your organization needs.

We all have different learning styles and personalities, so if these do not resonate with you, hereBook are a few additional resources:
• Book—7 Habits of Highly Effective People – link to the book on Amazon (here)
• Article— 6 Things the most productive people do every day – Article Link Here 

At the end of the day, figuratively and literally, we all have to acknowledge and be sensitive to the fact that the most limited commodity in a work day is time.

Sunday- The Day for You

Today is Sunday, a day reserved for relaxation and a reset from the preceding week– it’s also the perfect opportunity to spend some time focusing on you. When life gets hectic, it is nice to do something for yourself, even if it’s only 1 hour running out to get a manicure or facial—and it is no surprise that taking care of yourself is one of the most important rituals you can embrace in an effort to rebalance.

This week’s distress tactic: Facial — Something I have devoted myself religiously to every 6 weeks for the last 2 years that not only helps me distress but also help me look my best—especially important for someone who has battled acne since the age of 12.

Facials date back as early as 100 A.D. when the Romans used ancient mud baths to condition their skin, and humans have been partaking in this practice ever since because let’s face it—who doesn’t love the feeling of fresh, hydrated and smooth-feeling skin?  And this ritual certainly transcends genders- men and woman alike stand to benefit from treating their faces to a little TLC.

I have found an incredible aesthetician outside of Boston, who is a friendly and knowledgeable individual I look forward to seeing every 6 weeks to cure my skin’s woes and learn knew skin treatment tricks.  But for those workaholics out there with limited white space on your calendar, no need to fear–there are many at-home, quick remedies to pamper yourself if getting out for a scheduled facial just won’t work for your schedule.

Some of the helpful tricks my aesthetician has gifted to me:

1. Miracle at-home mask – whole milk plain yogurt + Aveeno oatmeal bath packet (1/2 a packet)—this mask is great for clarifying and hydrating, something most of us in colder climates this winter could use.  Simply mix 6 oz of whole milk plain yogurt and a 1/2 a packet of the MaskAveeno oatmeal bath, or substitute with just oatmeal.  Apply liberally over your entire face, being sure to keep mask away from your eyes, and let set up for 15 minutes.  Rinse with warm water and apply a light moisturizer.

Some sites with some delectable at-home mask ideas:

Real Simple At-Home Mask Ideas
Whole Living At-Home Mask Ideas

2. Coconut oil – most people know how multifaceted this little gem is, everything from hydrating your cuticles, to oil pulling, to removing make-up.  I keep a small jar of coconut oil in my nightstand and apply it to my cuticles most nights and even use it as a hydrating foot lotion, especially during these chiller months.  This wonder oil can also create an improved and smoother shave if applied to your legs before and after shaving, and can even prevent ingrown hairs, as coconut oil also carries antibacterial properties.

Here are some sites that outline the benefits of coconut oil:
Health.com
Organic Facts.net

3. Suki Concentrated Skin Toner—this product has literally changed my skin—after being plagued with troublesome skin, dating back to 12 years old, I finally found a product that has quite literally changed the texture and evenness of my skin. And the most important rule my aesthetician and this toner taught me—hydration is the best way to combat an oily complexion.  I apply the concentrated skin toner 2x a day after cleansing my skin.Suki Toner

The Suki line of products are generally found at many spas and can also be found on Amazon—one word of caution is pursuing the Amazon route—make sure you are purchasing from Suki (seller)

A good starter kit can be found on Amazon here: Suki Starter Kit

Still looking for some additional ways to pamper yourself at home?  Here are some of the books I have sought out for additional ideas/inspiration/tricks:

1. Skintervention – by Scott-Vincent Borba
The book can be found on Amazon here: Skintervention

SkinterventionThis book is an easy read and encompasses a holistic approach to obtaining and maintaining beautiful skin—from the foods you eat, to the vitamins/supplements you take to even at-home remedies for an all-natural and cost effective

2. The Skin Type Solution—by Leslie Baumann
The book can be found on Amazon here: The Skin Type Solution

Skin Type SolutionA similar holistic approach to managing better skin, including managing your diet and reading labels of products in order to properly tailor to your specific skin-type needs

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