The Gift of Time and Space: In Response to Busyness

It’s Easy to Do:

‘How are you?’ or the more urgent, ‘What’s alive for you right now?’ are interests too easily replaced with, ‘What have you been up to?’ or, ‘What do you do?’

A seemingly minor difference, but one that’s often received as, ‘What have you achieved lately?’ and can compel us to reel off a list of recent successes. This ultimately fosters a conditional basis for self-worth by bolstering the assumption that we must be immersed in the mire of busyness to be worthy, and can therefore underpin any unscheduled time with a feeling of lack, emptiness, and possibly even failure. We worry that we’re not using our time appropriately or productively, so can’t fully enjoy periods of rest or allow ourselves to be genuinely re-energised for our work.

It’s a vicious cycle that is propelled by the demands of Doing, stripping us of our right to just Be, and it’s everywhere in a given workspace.

And it’s understandable! There are intense pressures to put our wellbeing and ourselves on hold – separating this out into our so-called ‘personal lives’ – as modern Western society places unhealthy emphasis on external achievement gained by austerity. If we don’t maintain mindful practices throughout the workday it’s incredibly easy to fall into an unconscious state: only we can bring ourselves back from automaticity by regularly reconnecting with our surroundings and ourselves, using whatever tools we have available.

We need a different relationship to work, to technology. We know what we want: a meaningful life, a sense of community, a balanced existence. It’s not just about “leaning in” or faster iPhones. We want to be truly human. – Omid Safi, “The Disease of Busyness”

A Conscious Approach

Our solution is to plant seeds for a world in which we embody our true nature, and do so wherever we are, whatever we are doing.

The 42 Acres founders believed that a conscious coworking and event space was the best way to challenge the cumulative traps that come to overwhelm our whole lives, by encouraging people to keep tuning into the present.

The mission at 42 is to provide an alternative office model within a beautiful collaborative workspace; creating the coworking space in Shoreditch was a direct response to the unbalanced and unnatural lifestyle work can demand, and an opportunity to diffuse the prevailing notion of work-life ‘balance.’ We seek instead to manifest work-life alignment.

More than just another London coworking space, we are a holding space for our values and for yours. The space intends to advocate a holistic approach to living that incorporates work, rest and play, learning and growth: each revitalising the other. Our conscious coworking community is rooted in the concept that a healthy workspace is one that supports us wholly. We are offering space and time in a society that’s constantly demanding it from you.

We do so through a dynamic, ever-expanding range of initiatives and events programmes. Our newest expression is the Weekday Wellness series in Shoreditch, which embodies our conviction that pausing mid way through the day actually provides more time. These mindfulness sessions are an ideal way to experience the re-energising benefits of getting grounded and addressing our needs – body, mind and soul – rather than allowing our inner-narrative to set unattainable standards from which to fall short and, ultimately, burn out.

Making an Honest Connection

To feel empowered within this shift in priorities, we can create conscious frameworks for living, to expend our energy in a way that serves us and the world around us.

Not Doing carries many negative connotations, whether of failure or of ‘missing out.’ Ironically, another fear of regularly claiming open space for ourselves is that it will foster boredom; that we’ll lose steam, even slide backwards. Yet what is the frustration of boredom if not our hearts’ way of burning for more, of guiding us from within and showing us our own internal desire for life? Boredom can inspire aliveness; it allows us to feel our vital energies asking to be put towards something important. It opens us up to productivity.

A healthy workspace allows us to be fully human whilst we strive to bring about our goals; and that comes from within as well as externally. We can structure our time in a way that invites space into our soul and purpose into our practices: commitment to the present moment will gift us with a fuller living experience and see intentions – professional and personal – come to life.

‘Somehow we need a different model of organizing our lives, our societies, our families, our communities.’ – Omid Safi, “The Disease of Busyness”

So, in the spirit of optimising your day, we would like to share some tips on structure from our very own structure master (and Manager of the 42 Acres kitchen in Somerset), Maria Schraml!

How to Structure Your Busy Work Life and Bring Balance Back, by Maria Schraml:

Your job can feel like a huge mountain of never ending tasks that barely fit into a 24-hour day. But you need sleep, feel it might just be reasonable to eat now and then, and even to keep your social life going. Time stays the same and yet the demands on our time may continue to increase infinitely. So how to tackle this mountain?

The first step is to parcel your mountain out into little molehills: for example – emails/phone calls/customers. Once you have identified your parcels you can order them into priorities, such as ‘very important & urgent’; ‘urgent but not important’; ‘important but not urgent’ etc.

Your second step is structure your day: 9-10am emails, 10-11am phone calls, and so on, giving yourself enough time for a decent break, and a resolute cut-off time to stop work. Each morning make yourself a plan what are you doing; your To Dos, meetings, etc., and update this list at the end of your working day, and transfer all what is left in your to do list for the next day.

It is very important to book yourself me-time, time with friends, etc., and be adamant in your boundaries! Think about how many hours you honestly need for yourself to regenerate each week, and book it in your calendar. There’s simply no use in pushing yourself into burnout: long-term efficiency and personal prosperity comes firstly from acknowledging our limitations (as this is integral to outgrowing them) and maintaining conscious connection to ourselves.

Set realistic timeframes for indulging each aspect of life. It’s all relative and contributes to the whole. Start with one or two Me dates a week, and do whatever you fancy doing! Reading, walking in nature, creating, chatting with friends, even binge-watching if it helps you to unwind and find joy!

Be clear on your boundaries to work and friends about your me-time, because if you don’t, others likely won’t. Book people into dedicated appointments at the beginning of each week and they will be happy. You will probably find you have more to give if you put your own basic needs first, and this will affect your interactions so that you are working from a place of greater abundance.

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