I got to thinking about unused capacity recently as I was doing some posture exercises.
Yes, I still do my posture and back pain exercises. What, you think that just because I’ve wandered away from the topic in my writing that I’m not still concerned about my pain, mobility and posture?
One of the two guys I spend a LOT of time studying copywriting with is Ben Settle. On one of his old podcast episodes, he spent some time on the topic of unused capacity. He found that the majority of his sales came in the final week of the month, so he could reduce his selling efforts in the first three weeks, leaving him with unused capacity that he could apply to other things.
Anyway, I was thinking about unused capacity and how I had turned every day activities into posture exercises. In the early days of my back correction work, I often found I couldn’t do the full exercise because I lacked the strength, flexibility or mobility. Or the time, for that matter.
However, I sometimes found a completely different activity offered me an opportunity to do a partial exercise. I got to work my posture, with the added bonus that I was doing it while performing some other task.
As an example, take bear walking. It’s a simple concept, you take a bear posture and walk around, concentrating on maintaining your neutral spine while moving through complex, non-linear motion. Unfortunately, in the early days of my spinal repair work, I couldn’t do it (for a number of reason).
Then, purely by accident, I discovered that I could bear walk up stairs. Not upstairs, up stairs. The upward angle reduced the force on my arms and lumbar spine enough that I could do the exercise. Kind of like doing inclined (bench) push-ups if you can’t do proper floor push ups.
What’s the unused capacity?
Every time I went up a staircase (at home), I bear walked it. Back then, I had no idea just how much this little tweak to the exercise, and use of spare capacity could mean. It turns out that it probably meant a lot.
My FitBit tells me I do about 30 flights a day. When bear walking the stairs I start on the 6th step of 14, so I’m doing 8 steps, 30 times a day, 240 steps of upward angled bear walk. For the sake of argument, assume I’m getting about ½ the effect of a horizontal bear walk (on the floor). So about 120 steps of bear walk per day.
In movement yoga, where I was learning this stuff, we would do about a minute or two of bear walk. Maybe 20, 30 steps, forward, back and sideways on our mats. So using the unused capacity of…going upstairs, I was getting 4 to 6 classes worth of the exercise (class was twice a week).
Lately I’ve been in this “seize-the-China-flu-opportunity” phase. I’m working the
- Frequency of my writing
- Quality of my writing
- Fundamentals of copywriting
- Build out of the site into more than just a blog
- Fundamentals of podcasting
All the while working full time, supervising the education of my kids and exercising 5 to 7 days a week.
So where did I find the time for all of this?
Some of it is efficiency. I have the boys into a routine, with their online and offline lessons scheduled, so they require less supervision. I have gotten faster at generating and publishing content, so each post takes less time.
Nonetheless, there is also unused capacity. Absent the stay-at-home, my commute is 40 – 50 minutes (total) per workday, and you can add 30 minutes for yoga days. Working from home, that’s all gone. Seriously. I haven’t put gas in my car since March. Before I took back control from the crisis, I wasted this new, unused capacity. No more, now I put it to good use.
I found, without even looking hard, more than an extra hour a day. I chose to take that unused capacity and apply it to better goals than falling down the rabbit hole of chasing news on the pandemic.
How about you? Do you have unused capacity you can apply to your goals? I bet you do, so find it and make use of it.