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The Gap Behind The Gap (Observation)

This is a short one today, to the point and hopefully that point is rather sharp!

Whilst driving, there is often a time when you are sitting in the centre of the road, waiting for a gap in order to turn into a side street. As you wait, your eyes will be drawn to a gap in the traffic. The question is, is this the gap after the gap? In my observations, there have been a number of times that I have seen others wait for a larger gap in the traffic when smaller gaps presented perfectly safe opportunities for them to proceed. I have even found myself in the same situation. If you have ever thought "I really could have made it then" and known that it would have been safe to proceed, then you have potentially fallen victim to the gap after the gap observation. This is where your brain has scanned to the largest gap available as opposed to the gap that suits your ability to advance safely across the intersection. You will notice this especially if you are second in the queue, the gap becomes even more apparent.

Imagine you are looking at your day and you have an afternoon free in which to work specifically on some tasks. Whilst there are some smaller slots in the morning, your focus is drawn to what you will be able to achieve in the larger time slot. You put off these tasks knowing that you will have undivided attention to give to these. You once again have fallen victim to the "gap after the gap observation". And unfortunately, this is very common place. The more you start to realise that you are searching for the gap after the gap, then you will see how your time could be better utilised to make the most of the gap before the gap. Yet our brains seem to tell us otherwise...

Where else do we see this? Essentially, anytime we look at a task and think "I'll do that later when I have a larger chunk of time to dedicate to it". Even if it is a manageable task in the time frame, the thought of being interrupted or cut short can cause us to delay the engagement into the activity. This can be waiting for the weekend, or for the holiday break to begin. Any delay prevents us from gaining traction and runs the risk that we moving tasks that are achievable in a current state into a future state where we perceive they will have a better focus. One of the difficulties of this is having the awareness of the situation to know that this is what we are doing. There isn't essentially any harm in this however if you track this over time it becomes rapidly cumulative. For instance, 10 mins repeated three times a day becomes 30 minutes. Over a week (yes, this happens at home as well as work) this could equate to 3.5 hours. Over a month that's roughly 14 hours, and a year can be around 168 hours. And how many total hours in a week? 168. That could mean that you spend the equivalent of a week in your year waiting for that gap to complete that next task. And yes, I'm aware that if you simply took 30 minutes over a year this works out to 182.5 hours (183 for the leap year!) and that helps to put it even more into perspective.

Achievables are designed as little nuggety bites of goodness that allows us to better recognise and utilise the gap when it appears. In a driving sense, this might be a matter of a couple of seconds difference. In a day, this could easily add up to hours that are better utilised through this process. Of course, we want to avoid the dreaded misachievables (lots of fun, not much to be gained) although these in appropriate doses at pre-determined times are perfectly allowable. We are not aiming to fill every moment of the day, avoiding the aims of ultra-productivity but rather (I feel that "but rather" is one of my favourite phrases) allowing you to gain more control of the choice and decision process. By better recognising the choices that are in front of you (the options), you enhance your decision making process (the action you take) to work in your favour. These are available as part of "The Good Stuff" in our Determinability and Action program. It's free, because we all need a starting place. Something to help you get going and consider a strategy that can inject a little more purpose and momentum into your day.

In a driving sense, there isn't anything wrong with waiting for the gap after the gap. I'm certainly not advising you to gun in and hope that you are right. It is best to wait until you a certain. When you look at your day, it is worth asking yourself the question if you are waiting for the gap after the gap. You might just find that there are more moments waiting for you to leap in and get yourself going than you had noticed before.


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