The Third Space – Becoming More Resilient and Time Effective
Jun 08, 2015

People have more to do, with fewer resources in less time. This often makes them busier and less productive. This is compounded by the accelerating speed of change as we try to ‘sweat’ all the big changes.

However, it is not the big changes in and around our lives that cause stress, eat into our time, and make us less effective and productive. Rather it is the ‘small stuff’.

“Sweat the Small Stuff”

Micro-transitions – the small stuff - are, in fact, what life is all about. However, we make the mistake of focusing too much on the major transitions in life: moving in with your partner; handling the new restructure at work after a major round of redundancies; or adjusting to life with a new baby in the house. Major transitions are very real but relatively infrequent. In fact, most of everyday life consists of micro-transitions. It’s the effectiveness of these transitions, not the major ones, that actually determines how happy we are. I can guarantee that if you improve the quality of your micro-transitions, you are going to be happier. Our greatest challenge is the way we transition between different tasks, roles and environments for maximised performance. Our world is more out of control than ever before, with us transitioning faster than at any other time in history. In this turbo-charged world the secret to finding balance, peace and happiness exists in these transitional gaps. In other words we have to start minding the gap.

In managing these micro-transitions there are three steps:

1. We move between spaces I refer to these roles, environments and different tasks as ‘Spaces’. We spend our day transitioning between different Spaces.

2. The First Space is the role/environment/task you are in right now: namely reading this book.

3. The Second Space is the role/environment/task you are transitioning into. For example, you might be about to go into a sales conference or have your annual performance review or take part in a parent-teacher conference.

The Third Space is the transitional gap in between the First and Second. What we do in this transitional space will determine our level of success in the Second space. It is the gap where we learn from and recover from the First Space while preparing for optimal performance in the Second Space.

Steve Hooker’s Story

Steve Hooker won the gold medal for Australian in the pole vault. He was once asked: ‘Steve, in Athens (2004) you came 28th in the world. Four years later you won the gold. What did you do in those four years to get that quantum leap in performance?’ His response was profound.

Steve said that he had always done the big things right: trained hard, ate well and worked on his technique. However, he realised that he didn’t do the small things right, such as taking time out each day to relax, working on his mental focus, meditating, monitoring his self-talk and improving his emotional control. Steve began to dedicate some space each day to the seemingly small things. He kept this up every day for four years. Steve said that to move from ‘really good’ to ‘exceptional’, you need to consistently do the small things day in and day out. In other words, you need to take advantage of each space.

So, to improve how you spend your time and your performance “sweat the small stuff”. Try this every day, between each meeting or task or event, it doesn’t take long. You will be amazed at the difference it makes.