When I tell people that I write a weekly blog, have several training programs completed, a series of keynote speeches ready to give, and four books under my belt, they inevitably say, “That’s amazing, how do you do it all?” I say, “I give myself block time.”
What is block time? It’s making creative space for yourself away from your job, your family, and your social commitments to give a block of uninterrupted time to the endeavors that express your personal brand and are aligned with your mission.
If you’re looking for a new job, you’re ready to change jobs, or you want to impress higher-ups, you could use the time to refresh your resume, bio, and LinkedIn page, create a presentation detailing a big idea that you want to bring to your boss, outline a book, draft a Ted Talk, start a Twitter account, or build a Facebook fan page.
When I told a friend that I was traveling to the Mabel Dodge Luhan House in Taos, New Mexico, for two days to write my latest book she was envious. Even though I was only driving one hour north of my home in Santa Fe, she sighed and said, “I wish I could get away like that.” She just couldn’t imagine drawing a boundary like that and making all the arrangements needed to peel away for a couple days–even if it would end up increasing her brand’s value and feeding his soul.
Luckily, I’ve learned not to put roadblocks up where there aren't any. So here I sit in the reading parlor of a home that was once owned by Dennis Hopper, where luminaries like D.H. Lawrence, Georgia O’Keefe, and Ansel Adams frequented asking for their help from beyond to inspire these words. I take long walks in the mornings, eat meals alone with my thoughts, and explore the interiors of my mind for messages that will motivate you to fearlessly achieve your highest potential, so that I can reach mine.
There will always be urgent matters standing in the way of what’s important. The space to do your great work will never find you, you have to carve it out and be protective of it. Taking time to do your life’s work is not selfish; it’s why you are here.
If I’m inspiring you to finally get the block time you need, but you just don’t know exactly how to ask for it from your partner or boss, here are a couple of scripts I’ve cooked up that might get you a day or two away.
For Your Life Partner/Spouse
“Honey, you know how you keep telling me that I really need to write my (fill in the blank), well I feel compelled now more than ever to do it! It’s all bottled up inside of me and I’m ready to let it out. But, here’s the thing, instead of doing it piecemeal, I feel I need a serious block of time to really get it done. I’ve found this little bed and breakfast one hour away where I can just be with my work for a couple days. While I’m gone, I have arranged play dates for the kids and the teenager next door will walk the dog. Just imagine, you’ll have time for yourself to catch up on your (fill in the blank) and I’ll get my project off the ground, finally.”
For Your Boss
“For some time you’ve been recommending that I become more visible outside of our department and inside our industry. You’ve asked that I enhance my profile and perception so that I can be seen as a leader. I really appreciate all of your advice and I’ve taken it to heart. The thing is, my job here requires all of my time and I’m unable to (fill in the blank), as you’ve suggested. I’ve found this little bed and breakfast one hour away where I can just be with my work for a couple days. I would like permission to block out the time so I can get away from all the urgent tasks here to take care of those important projects that will not only benefit my image, but the entire department. While I’m gone, I have arranged for (name of employee) to pitch. Just imagine, I’ll finally get (fill in the blank) off the ground and you’ll be able to show (name of head honcho) how you motivated me to reach my potential.”
Now, if your boss is an ass and he or she doesn’t want you to succeed, you can still get away from your home or the office and grab some block time close by. You can simply spend a Saturday or Sunday at Starbucks or some other Wi-Fi infused coffee house drinking lattes with your cell phone locked away in your glove box. I do it all the time and I even surprise myself at the amount of work I get done.