3 Essentials You Probably Aren’t Making Time For — and How to Fit Them In

Jun 2, 2023

3 Essentials You Probably Aren’t Making Time For — and How to Fit Them In

by | Jun 2, 2023

Your schedule is always full, but I’d be willing to bet these things aren’t on there:

  • time for Your Highest Contribution
  • white space
  • downtime

We need time for all of these things to make the impact we want to have, to come up with the next big idea, to recharge, and to feel fulfilled. 

3 Essentials to Fit in Your Schedule

I always say the first step out of overwhelm is getting more overwhelmed. Let’s start by looking at these three things and why they need a space in your schedule … then we’ll figure out how to fit them in. 

Time for Your Highest Contribution

My clients spend the majority of their days responding to others. They are busy all day, but when they get to the end of a day, they don’t feel like they have done the important things, the things that will move their business forward. Sound familiar? 

The solution? You need to set aside dedicated time on your calendar for your Highest Contribution. This is the time you do the thing only you can do. You write the content, you create the art, you develop the program. Maybe your Highest Contribution in your business right now is talking about your business, or maybe your Highest Contribution is being interviewed on podcasts or talking with potential investors. 

I can assure you that your Highest Contribution is not approving a website font or processing a customer refund. Not that those things don’t need to get done (and maybe you are the person to do them), but they can’t happen at the expense of time spent in your Highest Contribution. You need dedicated time on your calendar for your Highest Contribution — and you have to protect that time.

White Space

What do Einstein, Bill Gates, and Sheryl Sandburg have in common? They all intentionally put white space time on their calendars. And we should learn from them. 

Carving out periods of unstructured time for reflection, planning, and thinking can help boost productivity, creativity, and well-being. White space is for higher-level work, like brainstorming new ideas, solving problems, and visioning the future of your company and your life. 

Don’t use your white space to “finish” things that didn’t get done or to put out fires. White space may feel dispensable, but you need it. It’s amazing what happens when you give yourself this time. 


A client recently told me she is so busy managing her team that she saves her important work for evenings and weekends when her team isn’t working. Now the beauty of being an entrepreneur is you can work whenever you want, but you can’t work all the time. You need downtime. 

You need time for rest, for hobbies, for self-care. You need downtime to stay healthy, happy, and out of burnout. 

3 Ways to Make Time for These Essentials 

“Yeah, I know I need these things … but I just don’t have time.” 

The time is not going to magically appear, but with a little effort you can make it happen. I’ve done it. My clients have done it. We do it regularly in Focus Planning. Here are a few things to try. 

1. Look ahead a few weeks. 

Usually when we want to make a change, we want to make it now. If you look at your schedule for the next couple of weeks, it’s probably packed. Look ahead a little further. Notice where there are some gaps. See where you could shift some things with some notice. Start your new schedule a few weeks out. 

2. Block off your schedule.

Go into the calendar your team sees and schedule your Highest Contribution blocks and your white space. List yourself as not available (make sure that time comes off your scheduler for clients too.) Commit to that time. This is not the time for putting out fires or helping others. The more you get used to holding that space for yourself, the easier it is to hold for your essential work. You can do the same in your personal calendar for downtime. 

3. Build in buffer time. 

One of the things I see eat up downtime, white space and Highest Contribution time is “wrapping things up” or “catching up.” When we don’t leave enough time to do the things we plan to do, we try to cram them into any available space — usually to our own detriment. Build buffer time into each task or each time. Use this time, not your downtime, white space, or Highest Contribution time, to deal with things that come up unexpectedly or that take longer than you thought. 

When you prioritize your Highest Contribution and include white space and downtime in your calendar, you are rejecting Hustle Culture, which tells you that you don’t have enough time, or that productivity has to come at the cost of your mental health. When you get realistic about your time, you will start to see that you have exactly the time that you need. 

Learn more about creating a schedule that moves you toward the impact you want to make without burning out in Focused: Reclaim Your Time, Ditch Overwhelm, and Do Less Better.

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