The Third Space
Have you ever had that feeling where you are running from one thing to another, busily moving between tasks, priorities, projects and all of the things business and life throws at you? You're working at a frantic pace but at times you feel like you're in a fog, like everything is blurry and whilst you're getting all of the things done, it can feel heavy, and exhausting, and like you aren't quite nailing anything as well as you know you can.
And then you see someone else, someone just like you, someone busy, moving between things, getting the things done, but watching them it seems effortless, they don't seem nearly as stressed as you feel, and they seem to be really smashing everything they turn their hand to.What's the different between the two of you? Are they just coping better, do you appear calm and in control to them and are they feeling flustered, or do they have some sort of secret weapon maybe a super multi vitamin or something you're yet to discover?
Well here is the thing, there is no magic pill, they don't have any super powers and yes they are doing it all with a little more ease, focus and success, and the reason might be just this simple. This other person may have mastered the art of leveraging a concept known as 'the third space'.So what is 'the third space'? At it' core, this concept deals with a time or period of transition, the transition from one task to another, from work to home, from meeting to meeting, from one job to another. The transition could be tiny or significant, the third space is simply the part in between.
This concept is not new, it's in fact been spoken about in social construct terms since the post colonial era, but it really came to much more pertinent importance thanks to the years of work and research undertaken by American Sports Psychologist Jim Loehr who is a highly respected author and productivity guru.Over many, many years, Loehr studied high performance athletes, working with those at the absolute top of their game, specifically he worked with the worlds best Tennis players. He was interested in finding out, at the top echelons of international sporting success, what was it that separated the best from the rest. What he found was fascinating, he found that they all committed the same to training, their athleticism, skill development, nutrition and all of those kind of things, but what differed was what they did in between sets in a game. In between sets? Yes!
What the top athletes did in even in those brief pauses between sets in an important match was this - they had some sort of ritual to relax and refocus. He discovered that those that performed better had some sort of process to sequentially help them deal with the last set and get ready to launch into the next set.
What both Loehr and Fraser found was that those who mastered the use of this third space, the transition period, performed better in whatever they were doing, produced better output and ultimately had more happiness and contentment.
When you think about it, the commute is the time you forget the chaos of the morning fighting with the kids about mess and toast, and get your work brain focused and ready to get into work when you walk in the door. Conversely at the end of the day the stress of the workday is wound down during the commute home so you're ready to be present for your family, friends or simply for your own down time.
There are literally a multitude of ways you can utilise this framework of reflect, rest and reset. Even adding it into one part of your day, or training yourself to do it in a micro form between tasks can and will make a huge difference to that sense of running on overdrive to comfortably and confidently moving between tasks with more focus and ease.
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