When we light a fire, we need to organise several different components in a very precise arrangement. We have to start with scrunched up paper, then add small sticks to make a pyramid, and only then can we put the larger logs over the top so that they will give us a long, slow heat. There is one element, however, that is often overlooked when arranging wood for a fire, and that is space. It is the space between the different combustible elements that allows the fire to ignite and continue burning. Without adequate space, the fire dies within seconds, because it does not have enough oxygen to burn.
This law of nature also applies in life, and especially at work. When our week is so busy that it looks like the final stage of a Tetris game, then we have a problem. It means that there is not enough oxygen to keep our fire burning, and there is absolutely no use in wasting our matches in a vain attempt to keep a flame alive when it will inevitably die out.
Life in the 21st century has trapped us in a trance of feigned productivity. Many people believe that being busy corresponds to productivity, but this is not the case: we can be very busy but not very productive and vice versa. What’s more, everything always seems to be urgent, whether it is writing an email or saving a life. This constant pressure weighs us down in a state of constant stress, and this quickly leads us to feel overwhelmed and unable to switch off. Slowing down, or even just taking a break from time to time, often makes us feel uncomfortable, because we are no longer used to it, and we try to cope with this growing sense of anxiety by filling our calendar with endless commitments. As time goes on, and this pattern repeats itself day after day, we also begin to feel increasingly guilty as we start neglecting our family, health, and dreams, and we forget why we are even doing it in the first place.