Budget Time for the Rabbit Holes

I pride myself on being reasonably efficient and managing the flow of many client sessions, teaching engagements, project deadlines, finding time for friends and the occasional film, too. But lately I’ve been learning the necessity of budgeting in time for when the schedule gets derailed – flat tire, lost keys, a deadline I had completely overlooked until the morning of.

Now I’m learning to budget in the time, not just to slow down and smell the roses but to acknowledge that Murphy’s law is the rule rather than the exception, and the more I can allow time for things going haywire, the more relaxed I can feel in coping, rabbit hole after rabbit hole, all week long.

Three helpful hints:

1. Budget in the time

When I commuted to my San Francisco office, I allowed an extra 10 minutes most mornings for traffic and parking snafus, and sometimes cut my arrival a little too close for comfort. But my suitemate Dennis, commuting across the Bay Bridge on a motorcycle, would give himself a full extra hour to manage similar traffic and parking snafus. He always had enough time to settle in, meditate, review client notes, and be fully prepared for his long day. The hour leeway wasn’t extra; it was budgeted in as part of his professionalism and efficiency.

2. Pre-plan and rehearse coping strategies, because you just never know….

One of the participants in a recent weeklong training shared one of her coping strategies with the rest of the class – whenever her sleep was interrupted by an upset with one of her children, she would already begin to look forward to a really good night’s sleep the next night.

I wasn’t planning on having to use such a strategy myself, but that very night I suffered through some food poising, finally threw up and felt better enough to sleep, but I found myself using that vey technique – oh well, I can look forward to a good night’s sleep tomorrow night. I had learned and rehearsed a new coping strategy just in time for that particular rabbit hole.

3. Be prepared

I didn’t expect a 6-hour delay in the departure of a flight home from a recent training, but as the departure time was pushed to 2 hours late, then 3.5 hours, then 4.5 hours, then finally the full 6-hours delay, I read my way through two issues of the most wonderful magazine on resilience in the world: Dumbo Feather: Conversations with Extraordinary People: Passion-Purpose-Community. An Australian magazine, Dumbo Feather profiles activists from all around the world working for the common good and saving our planet. (Remember the Walt Disney cartoon character, the elephant Dumbo who believed he could fly when he carried a feather in his trunk. The people profiled in Dumbo Feather do fly – they engage in projects that address, racism, refuges, climate change, and uplift/include the marginalized all around the world.)

I carry the most recent issues of Dumbo Feather with me whenever I travel, because you just never know…And then at least I’m not caught up in grumbling and complaining when a flight is delayed or canceled; I’m a relatively happy camper investing in my learning and becoming wiser, more resilient.