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You walk into your kitchen and every surface is covered with stuff. Papers, mail, dishes, groceries that haven’t been put away.
Now imagine walking into your kitchen and all the counters are clear. The table is empty. There is plenty of open space.
Which feels more calm to you? That, friends, is the feeling of white space and it’s a very important concept!
This post isn’t simply about physical clutter though. It’s about creating that feeling of openness in your daily life. White space is the time in your day that is open and available, not crowded and chaotic – time for thinking, for creating, for relaxing. I want you to have a life that is filled with space! (Okay, that might be an oxymoron, but go with me on this.)
Why is white space important?
We need space in our lives, openness, both physical space and, more importantly, mental space. Time that allows our minds to relax and untangle. Have you ever struggled to solve a problem or remember a name? You think about it all day and just can’t figure it out! And then, at three in the morning, you suddenly wake up with the answer! Why does that happen? Because your mind is relaxed. It continues to work on the problem for you, without all the normal interruptions that happen while you’re awake. It finally has the space to wander until it finds the answer. Pretty crazy, huh?
Imagine what can happen if you can use that brain power during the hours you’re awake!
But wait, isn’t taking breaks and scheduling time to do nothing inefficient? Shouldn’t you keep going until you’re done with everything? No! You don’t need to be productive every minute of the day. In fact, you NEED time that you are NOT “doing”. A busy schedule doesn’t make you more productive. It just makes you…busy. Just like batteries, we need time to recharge.
Here are 6 simple ways to open up some white space in your life:
1. Clear out the physical clutter
While this post isn’t about minimalism or decluttering, it definitely deserves a mention. Your environment plays a huge role in your ability to think and create. If you sit down at your desk to work and it’s covered with papers, notes, and files, all of those items will be calling for your attention. If your desk is clear, you can sit down and get right to work.
The same is true of your living room, bedroom, kitchen…it takes a lot of time and effort to mentally sort through the clutter before you can be productive or relaxed. Making an effort to keep your environment clean and uncluttered will do wonders!
Take some time to put things in order and then KEEP them in order.
2. Create quiet times in your days
We live in a very noisy age. Phones, notifications, television, radio…all those noises are fighting for our attention. Even when you don’t think you notice them, you are taking in all of that information. By scheduling some quiet time in your day, your mind will have a chance to relax and wander.
My personal quiet time is when I wake up. I make some tea and take 30 minutes or so to sit still, with no phone, tv, or other external noises. I let my mind wander and after those 30 minutes, I feel more awake and prepared for what the day will bring. Find a time in your day when you can take at least 5 minutes, turn off your phone, turn off the tv, and enjoy the silence for a bit. It may feel a little strange at first, but the benefits are SO worth it!
3. Plan not to have plans
Adding white space to your life DOES take some effort. I find the best way is to plan time in your schedule that is open. Plan NOT to have plans during this time. Use your scheduled empty moments to think and create and just breathe. You will quickly find that your unscheduled time is actually MORE productive than running around, always trying to DO one task and then the next.
4. Expect the unexpected
On a related note, expect the unexpected to happen. Don’t schedule out every single minute of your day…because as soon as you do, the unexpected will happen (flat tire, a surprise visitor, sick kiddo), leaving you feeling rushed and stressed. Instead, add some padding into your day…white space… This will allow unexpected things to happen without wrecking your entire day.
5. Be intentional about it
This concept is something that absolutely WILL NOT happen without effort. If you allow it, daily life will steal every single moment of your time. You will never FIND the time if you don’t CREATE the time. So be intentional in your efforts to create white space in your life. Plan it, make it happen, and don’t let things get in the way.
6. Appreciate your empty time
Lastly, appreciate the time you leave open for yourself. Don’t just do it as if you’re checking another item off a list, but look forward to it. Savor it. Prioritize it. And be grateful that you’ve made the decision to give yourself space.
What do you do to add white space to your life?