The Surprising Power of Structured Open Space

Here’s a challenge for you: take a half day to figure out how you can get more time in your life. Do it in the next seven days. I mean it. It can change the way you manage your time!

This process is what I call “Structured Open Space” time. Structured Open Space is basically brainstorming time with a specific purpose. You’ll need to be disciplined in your approach to it: prepare your time, space, supplies, and know what you want to walk away with from your session.

Use Structured Open Space to brainstorm with purpose. Find out how productive you can be! Click To Tweet

Here’s how to prepare:

Time.

Block your calendar. And if you need travel time to and/or from your space, be sure to add that to the front and back of your appointment. Set expectations with your team (if it’s during the workday) or your family (if it’s not) around not being interrupted during this time.

Space.

Find a space that you like to be in for your open space time. Some people like complete silence; others like to have background noise. You should have a comfortable (but not too comfortable!) chair, a place to write, and it should accommodate any other activities you like do (like white boards or flip charts, for example). Make sure your space is as free of distractions as possible. Put your “out of office” message on your email. Turn off your phone. Or if you’re not able to, put it on silent, and set a timer for every 30 minutes to check for emergencies.

Supplies.

You need a way to record your notes and findings. Computer? Journal? Note cards? Sticky notes? Whatever you pick, make sure you have something you enjoy using. It could be something like a special pen or a mousepad or buttery smooth paper.

Outcomes.

What do you want to get done in this particular session? Make sure you write that down and put it in a place you can see it as you’re working through your open space session.

My leadership coaching clients find Structured Open Space sessions to be extremely valuable. Need a guide to get started? Check out my post on Making the Time for Things That Matter.

What are your must-have supplies for your Structured Open Space Sessions? Tell us in the comments below!

 

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