Building Buffers to Make Life EasierNov 12, 2019
As one of life's 'sensible’ characters, I have always had a tendency to build a buffer, in different areas of my life. I was thrilled recently when reading ‘Essentialism’ by Greg McKeown (a brilliant book about the disciplined pursuit of less), that building in a buffer is highly recommended for those of us wanting a happy and healthy life.
We live in an unpredictable world and there are often unforeseen circumstances that can catch us off guard. We don’t know if the trains will be on time, whether a client will miss an appointment, or we will be hit with a virus. The only thing we can expect is the unexpected!
Our options then become to either react to the situation by firefighting or doing some preparation in advance, by building in a buffer. A good buffer will lessen or shield the impact of something. A buffer won’t be the answer to every challenge you face, but it will certainly make life easier.
How often do you find yourself in situations where you’re late, don’t have time for a project, have no money and no clients booked in? These times massively increase our stress levels and stop us from being resilient and performing at our best.
For some reason, most people are optimists when it comes to travelling. Often underestimating just how long it takes to get to a place. They consider only the time for the actual travelling but not de-icing the car, or parking it!
Personally, I hate being late for an appointment. If I need to be somewhere at a certain time, I build in a little contingency time. I would rather go for a coffee or spend 10 minutes reading, knowing I am there, instead of rushing and worrying.
Building in buffers
Identify the situations where you could benefit from having buffers in place. Think about the times when you get stressed and overwhelmed, or where you spend your time worrying or feeling guilty. These could be ideal situations to take the pressure off yourself with buffers.
Create a plan
Pick one or two of the areas you have identified, don’t try to do everything in one go. Think about how you can build in a buffer to help you get through the situation. Many of the solutions will be to get organised in advance.
Some ideas could be:
- Batch cook food so that you have your meals ready for the week
- Sort out your clothes the evening before so you know exactly what you are wearing
- Get a part-time job to help support you while you build your practice
- Add in extra time to each journey to allow for any delays
Create new habits
By consistently building in your buffer, you will soon get into the habit of doing it. Those times that were once challenging have now become simpler and less stressful. Once you establish a new habit and are in the routine, pick something else from your list and start to incorporate that into your life too. It won’t be long before you are feeling much more organised, in control and calmer!
We can never fully anticipate or plan for what will happen, life is just too unpredictable. Buffers will provide you with a little ‘wiggle room’ and reduce the stress caused by unforeseen circumstances.
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