In a previous blog I wrote about finding time for thinking. I was reminded of it last week when I spent a lot of time out of the office and found myself panicking about how I was ever going to catch up. A day in Bristol, in London, two days in Manchester, a day in Swindon. Car journeys, hotel rooms, disconnection from the ‘usual’. That rising sense of of everything getting away from me. Over the weekend, I took a deep breath and reflected on the week.

What I discovered was that what had felt like a hectic, breathless diary gridlock was one of the most stimulating and useful weeks I had worked through in a while. The stress of a major performance in front of a group of peers (but strangers) afforded me an opportunity to rehearse my strengths, to consider, and learn from, how I had dealt with tricky moments and to recognise how much better I am than I used to be in these high expectation situations. An evening at a major international event which I had been dreading – not knowing anyone, way out of my professional field, the presence of ‘the great and the good’ – had in fact been an entertaining and convivial evening with good conversation, great humour and unexpected networking opportunities. I was struck that by the end of the evening I hadn’t really breached my comfort zone at all. Midweek I joined a group of colleagues to consider a future vision and ways of working for an organisation I am involved with and realised that our individual views were remarkably consistent and that levels of openness, integrity and collegiality were very high. I also recognised some unexpectedly good facilitation and that allowing myself to go with that made for a very constructive and productive day with (pleasant surprise) no feelings of irritated frustration or of feeling ‘unheard’. An additional benefit was observing that facilitator at work and storing away techniques and approaches to use in my own work. A great bonus. A little more mundanely, I spent some time looking at work premises and found the simple act of wandering around empty buildings brought out a skill for visualisation and a chance to dream about possibilities and ‘what if’s’. Another unexpected trigger for creative thinking.

So, what had seemed like the week from hell, and a week when I could easily have been saying ‘I’ve been all over the country and I haven’t got a thing done and everything is just piled up and next week will be a nightmare of catching up’; with a little concentration and deliberate reframing became a week of confidence boosting, validation, reaching new acquaintances, building a new team, learning new skills to try and still room for a bit of ‘blue sky’ musing. All in a week’s work. Reflect and reframe – and see how much you can get out of the day job.