It seems like our lives are becoming more and more busy. We carry around our busyness like a badge of honor… acting like we’re more productive and fulfilled.
But, at the end of the day, we’re exhausted. We’re disconnected.
Is this all that life has to offer?
A demanding schedule and a quickened pace?
White space is the strategic moment of rest and relaxation that will bring you more peace and productivity.
You’ll finally be able to renew the weary parts of your soul and bolster your fading joy.
You’re Not Alone In The Busyness
You wake up early with a headache. Maybe stopping for morning coffee will take away the fog.
The barista asks how you’ve been…
“Busy”, you shrug as you prepare for a long work day ahead.
Although you’re working hard enough to feel exhausted, nothing seems to get done.
At lunch you’re planning for the upcoming meeting and at home you’re with your kids, but you’re not really with your kids… you’re somewhere else.
Planning, organizing, escaping.
Does this sound familiar?
Feeling like you’re just following along and being dragged by things you have to do?
Like someone else is leading the dance.
It’s time to get some white space and reintroduce vibrant energy and flow to your life.
What Is White Space?
White spaces are the strategic breaks we take throughout our day for rest and relaxation.
They help us declutter our mind and ground ourselves in what truly matters.
White space looks like this:
A slow lunch with loud laughs.
And crunching leaves on a fall walk around the neighborhood.
White space is a moment of calm and re-centering that breathes creativity and energy into you.
White space is the exact opposite of what we’ve been told is required to be successful: constant busyness.
Why Busyness Won’t Make You Successful
First, we must recognize the lie that’s been told over and over that busyness creates success.
All of these bloggers and thought leaders are shouting about “the grind” and the effort required of you to “make it”.
In the process of “making it”, you end up working so exhaustively that you lose everything that matters.
Busyness by itself won’t make you successful.
Success is difficult to define, but this is what success means to me...
Forward Progress + Stability = Success
Your success (in whatever capacity that means to you) is a direct result of your forward progress and stability.
Most people focus on the Forward Progress and create a monster of busyness in their lives.
Stability is the conscious recognition and awareness of your self and others. Forward progress means nothing if you’re energy and time creates destruction for yourself and others.
Stability introduces safeguards so you can maintain a relationship with your family, and keep your job, and not lose hope.
Is Busyness Is A Badge Of Honor For You?
Saying we’re busy is almost like a badge of honor in American culture.
We try to impress people with our packed schedules.
Since we know that they’ve also been told the lie that “busyness equals success”, then if we say we’re busy, maybe they’ll think we’re successful.
And we never stop to realize that we’re filling our time because it was expected of us. Not because we wanted it.
Your Value Isn’t In Your Time… It’s In Your Quality
Your value and worth and accomplishment is not tied up in how much you do.
So, take a breath.
Quit trying to run the resultless race that everyone else is competing in.
In our culture of inflated egos we all act like our time is the most valuable thing on the planet.
And really, it’s not even that we value our time:
We just value how others perceive our time.
It’s an ironic valuation though, because we say we value our time, but then we fill it with useless activities.
If you truly value your time, you’ll introduce white space. You’ll spend time on your own emotional and mental health.
You’ll recognize your time is so valuable that maybe you need to introduce gaps, moments of rest and relaxation, so you can become more potent when you need to be productive.
More space that allows you to focus on the wonder, mystery, and joys of life.
What would it look like for you to begin focusing on the quality of your time?
Crush Open Loops To Add Clarity
To begin adding clarity and white space, you’ll need to crush the activities and obligations that keep consuming your time.
Open loops are the unresolved tasks that continue to play themselves over and over again in our mind.
Sometimes they’re big tasks and sometimes they’re small tasks.
Instead of letting your “to-do” list stay in your mind and expand and become more consuming, just write it down.
Start making a list of everything on your mind. Then, set up a way for you to tackle it in the future.
I write down all of my open loops (e.g. today I need to finish writing this article, meet with Scott at lunch, I need to start a load of laundry, ooh almost forgot about my meeting with Bryan on Thursday) on the Notes app and then I schedule when I’ll do them with reminders.
If you don’t write down and schedule what you need to do, those activities will constantly play themselves over and over again.
Then, when you enter into a time of rest and relaxation, you won’t be able to focus. You’ll only be worried and concerned about all you have to do.
Learn To Say No To Carve Out White Space
Don’t you hate when you’ve spent an entire day running only to realize you still have more to do?
And it seems like tasks and obligations continue to pile up higher and higher.
We overcommit and say yes to things we don’t want to do for a myriad of reasons.
Here’s the danger in that:
You’ll never be able to find moments to relax and savor all that’s happening around you if you don’t learn to say no.
Every event that begs your attention doesn’t require you to say yes.
The more you commit, the less potent you become.
You’ll spread yourself so thin that exhausting and frustration will be the only fruits of your labor.
But, learning to say no is difficult. Usually because we want to be included and we want to help people who ask for our help or presence.
And in the process of participating we lose our sanity.
So, carve out some white space in your busy day for yourself.
You’ll become more productive and potent when you learn how to say no.
You Found Some Downtime, Now What? Slow Down And Savor
Sometimes we can feel guilty just taking time for ourselves.
And it’s amazing how how often people will question why you said no to an event just to have some down time.
Here’s the thing:
Most people believe they have to continually be active to feel like their life is moving forward.
They store their value and productivity in activities.
You will find movement and creativity and peace when you are able to recognize the value in white space.
Your life will continue to move, even during your periods of rest because you’ll be able to understand the depth of your value and the creativity in your peace.
So, what do you do once you’ve found some white space?
Slow down. Savor. Enjoy each moment.
Richard Rohr in his book The Naked Now talks about how our minds are so focused on controlling that we miss out on the joy of the present:
"Presence is experienced in a participative way, outside the mind. The mind by nature is intent on judging, controlling, and analyzing instead of seeing, tasting, and loving." - Richard Rohr
In your white space, you have unlimited freedom to restore the joy and calm in your life...
Play with your kids without a care in the world about work.
Go get ice cream late at night with your friends.
Take a trip to a city and do things that would offend the locals.
Grant yourself the privilege of white space so you can begin to reclaim the potency of your time and energy.
5 Things You Can Do Right Now To Add White Space To Your Busy Life
- Create a rest rhythm in your schedule: set aside a time every day for yourself. Maybe it’s 30 minutes every afternoon that you meditate. Or every dinner you share as a family
- Go for a walk: take a walk by yourself or with someone. Simply savor and ponder. My best moments of reflection are taking a short walk around my neighborhood
- Grab a meal with a friend: even more fun, make a meal with a friend!
- Read a great book: reading is the best way to learn more about yourself and the world. It’s an exploration into the truest elements of who we are
- Volunteer: the world needs you. Find something that aligns with what you value and serve. Seek nothing in return and allow yourself to find joy in blessing others