The other day, I ran into a coworker warming up her lunch in the break room.
“Hey! How’s it going?” I asked.
“Oh, you know,” she sighed. “It’s one of those days. Back-to-back meetings, and my new role has me on a learning curve.”
She started telling me about all the different pieces she was holding. After a few minutes of standing next to the microwave holding her plate, she finally sat down at the table with me.
“You know what?” she said, “Screw it, I’m just going to sit here and eat this.”
We sat together, and she continued to lay out all her projects, one by one. When she was done, she thanked me for listening.
“This was helpful. It’s clear what I need to do now. So… how are you?”
I told her about some feedback I wanted to give to another colleague, and like her, I began to talk through points I wanted to make. She then repeated them back to me, clearly and succinctly.
“Whoa, nice, thank you. I need to go write those down,” I told her.
“How long were we here?” she asked. “10 minutes? This is it! Spaciousness in action!”
At Rockwood, we throw around the word “spaciousness” a lot, and with good reason: having room in the day for unscheduled and unscripted moments like these can be very powerful for leadership.
We’ve talked a lot about how and why spaciousness works, but it can be difficult to do when we’re super busy (like my coworker). No matter how much we recognize the benefits, it’s hard to make time for spaciousness when we don’t even have time to eat lunch or take a break.
Here’s how we embrace spaciousness at Rockwood, no matter how busy we are:
- Take opportunities to be spacious
Opportunities for spaciousness happen in places other than the break room, and many of them go unnoticed if we are too consumed by urgency. When I’m walking through the office, before or after meetings, in between phone calls… any time I have a few extra minutes to check in with a coworker or grab a glass of water, I do it.
- Welcome unscheduled conversations
When my coworker and I started chatting, it wasn’t planned, and we didn’t expect to get anything out of it. We were just connecting with each other as friends. But, by welcoming a few moments of “non-work,” we actually got a lot done.
- Create spaciousness in 5 minutes
We have a practice at Rockwood called a “5-Minute Sit,” where a staff member will send out a meeting invite for a quick, five minute group meditation. It’s an opportunity for staff to gather together, sit, meditate, and breathe. We typically do it during our busiest times of the year, or when an external event calls us together for collective healing, but we also do it occasionally just because we feel like it.
- Schedule spaciousness
It may seem backwards to schedule unscheduled time, but many of us block off time in our calendar so we’re not always rushing from meeting to meeting. Some of us take walks around the block, or take stretch breaks in our office or common area. Some of us just make sure we take regular breaks to eat and hydrate. Even if there isn’t a problem-solving epiphany, it gets us to take a break, and spaciousness has still done its job.
How do you make time in your day for spaciousness?