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The Art of Leaving Room for Spontaneity
Leaving room - for the unscheduled? What the what are you talking about??
In a world overrun by planners, schedulers, and task management apps, one might wonder, "Is there still space for spontaneity?" A while back, a friend posed this intriguing question on X (it was Twitter at the time): “How does one do anything spontaneous? I plan out my days and would be mad at myself if I didn’t do those things.”
This dilemma struck a chord with me, as someone who also juggles multiple roles—a husband, a father, and a career man. It made me pause and reflect on how I've been able to strike that elusive balance between structure and spontaneity.
I leave room for it.
Yes, it’s that simple—and, paradoxically, that hard.
I actively carve out spaces in my schedule, gaps that act as playgrounds for unexpected opportunities and joyful surprises. There are days, especially weekends, where I schedule only one or two commitments and keep the rest of the day open, like a blank canvas waiting to be painted. This approach allows me to be open to whatever serendipities might come my way, without feeling weighed down by a relentless agenda.
Now, I know what you might be thinking: "Phil, it’s easy to talk about leaving room when you don't have a lot on your plate."
Trust me, my life is anything but empty.
With a wife, a teenager, an eight-year-old, a full-time job, and a part-time gig, plus the fact I write 2 articles a week for you here, 4 days a week on Facebook, an article a week on LinkedIn, and a few podcast videos every week, my days can often feel like a whirlpool of responsibilities and timelines. The logistics alone could make anyone's head spin. But that's precisely why leaving room for spontaneity is so crucial. Scheduled lives tend to suck the joy out of living, and before you know it, you've lost the ability to appreciate the unexpected wonders life throws your way.
So when I do get those rare moments, those pockets of time not claimed by deadlines or obligations, I savor them. These are my safety valves, the windows that let in the fresh air of possibilities, the unplanned coffee catch-up with an old friend, or an impromptu family outing to a nearby park. These instances recharge my batteries, providing me with fresh perspectives and the emotional vigor to tackle life's challenges.
But what about those days that are jam-packed, the ones that are scheduled down to the minute? Well, those days make me appreciate the unstructured ones even more. The stark contrast between the two serves as a reminder that life’s tapestry is rich because it’s woven from threads of both predictability and uncertainty. Moreover, I find gratitude in the busy days; they make the less hectic days appear even more valuable, like gemstones scattered amidst pebbles.
Leaving room for spontaneity is more than just a time management strategy; it's a philosophy, a mindset that allows you to approach life with a sense of curiosity and wonder. It keeps you agile, able to pivot and adapt, ready for whatever opportunities or challenges may come your way. So the next time you find yourself pulling out your planner, be it physical or digital, remember to pencil in some 'Nothing.' Because sometimes, 'Nothing' turns out to be the most fulfilling 'Something' you could ever plan for.
And hey, you never know—your next life-changing moment could be just a blank calendar slot away!
PS I’ve got a pretty awesome announcement about what I’m doing for full-time work now. I’m super excited about, and if you’re interested in learning about what it is that could catch my attention for 40+ hours a week (besides my family), you can watch the announcement video here.