Do you ever run around doing little jobs 10 minutes before you leave the house? Many times I have found that I am perhaps 20 minutes away from needing to leave the house to attend an appointment and find myself sorting the laundry, putting the washing up away and picking up toys off the floor; to then notice that I am now 10 minutes late! We underestimate the amount of time it takes to perform tasks.

So with this in mind, I have developed the idea of creating buffer zones in my diary. So what this means is that if I estimate an hour to walk the dog, I block out an hour andspinning-plates2 a half in case a dog goes AWOL or I am chatting to someone. This means that I am less stressed and am not as late sometimes as I was before I started using a buffer zone. It has also been useful to use the buffer zone for when planning my day around work and other tasks like shopping or transporting children and means I am not always last minute.

Chronic pain has also created a need to have buffer zones around activities. I did some shopping recently in a two hour window that I had and the next day experienced an exacerbation in my pain levels. I believe that I needed a bigger buffer zone than the one I actually had, and so now I plan accordingly.

So I guess that this is about self-care and time management to reduce the stress of running late; which is interesting because in my work, self-care is generally around doing things that bring us joy and feeds the soul. Whereas creating buffer zones throughout the day is the other side of the coin – more about taking breaks and making space. These little breaks and buffers of time are particularly important and useful when we are busy.

How are you looking after yourself in the busy run up to Christmas? Are you having breaks or are you fitting in as many little jobs as you can in the final 20 minutes before you leave the house?