White Space Explained + How to Get More of It
What is White Space?
White space is the idea of giving yourself time to move through your day at a pace that matches your personal speed. When you are in flow, you often times don’t notice how fast or slow time is passing, it’s just passing. The same can be said, and be true, of a life lived in tune with each moment. Aware of your surroundings, your commitments and intentions for your day.
Being intentional with your focus really makes a difference in your day to day life.
For me, I feel most stressed when I’ve taken too much on. Surprise, surprise. But, if I can find a way to spread the work apart and organize what pieces make sense to do when, and how long they will take, then I can move in confidence to each part of the task, knowing where I am in the process. Giving myself whitespace ENSURES that I’m never too far off of course. Because I’ve built in time to relax, to contemplate, to solicit feedback from those who’s opinion I admire.
Speaking of having discussions with people you respect and enjoy the company of, lets talk about being still long enough to see the world. Once you have the time to stop and look around you begin to see parts of your life, surroundings, dynamics, that were invisible to you previously because your mind saw them as ancillary, not beneficial to your long term career growth and success. You may even agree, that these “little things” people always refer to are of no real importance to you - and that’s fine. But, you do have to accept that you’re missing pieces of your reality due to the stress and urgency around your day. Just something to chew on …
Stress manifests itself in the body. This is a proven fact. So it’s only natural that stress tension in your body can be eliminated, if not greatly reduced, due to your ability to build in white space that allows your body to calm down and for your system to flush out the excess cortisol that’s been released over the course of that hour and a half long meeting that had your eyes rolling so hard they may have popped out.
Ease of decision making. You really do feel that the world has slowed down to meet your new stillness. When it comes time to make a decision - you’ll be thankful you’ve invested in your white space practices because you’ll have had the time to truly sit with your emotions on various topics/events and at this point you’ve now come to a reasonable conclusion as to how you feel. Hence being able to quickly make a decision that is the right one for you in all aspects of the sense and not finding yourself panicked, stressed, and irritated at the idea of having to make a decision you were not prepared for.
With all of these benefits comes a sense of ease and calm that I never really felt before, and definitely could not sustain before now. This feeling of calm and clarity become reinforcing habits to one another and thus strengthen your resolve to do well by others, yourself, your time, etc.
LET ME GUESS WHAT YOU’RE PROBABLY THINKING ABOUT RIGHT NOW
You just like me, you're thinking that you are way to important to take those types of liberties with your working life. You can’t just take 20 minutes off to sit and drink your coffee, you wont take 30 minutes to sit down with a coworker or friend over lunch to catch up on life outside of the office because “that’s not what the office is for” or “I don’t have time for that, I’ve got a mountain of email I need to get through before my next string of back-to-back meetings". If that sounds like you - again - you’re in need of whitespace and likely don’t see the poor job you’re doing in managing your work, yourself, and the perception your office/friends/family etc. have of you.
Start Small - don’t overdo the white space. Start with one or two minutes to do a breathing exercise. Start by going on a walk. Take a ride up and down the elevators. Go to your car and listen to your favorite song. Take a quick nap in your backseat.
Stay Consistent - whatever your choice may be - stick to it. Stay consistent in you commitment to go to the bathroom and hide out for a minute each day. :-P
why it makes sense to try
Know that it will be hard at first. There is a part of me still to this day the reverts back to the feeling of rushing around, and making things happen quickly. Sometimes it’s intoxicating. But, it’s almost always to my determent and that’s when I realize I should take a step back and make sure I’m taking my time traveling through my life, not rushing through it. But, I have to fight that part of me and remember that it’s all in what I want and how I want to feel.
When you’re really down or facing an issue with the decision to make space for yourself remember that a slingshot is always stretched backwards before it launches forward with momentum and speed. That’s you in that moment. You’re feeling like you’ve gone the wrong direction. When you hit that point of feeling like things are getting worse, look up - you’re about to be shot forward into greatness!
You’ll be thankful you chose to add white space to your life. It’s where living is - it’s what makes you human, not just a meeting monkey or a purpose driven vessel that makes rapid decisions and gives little thought to who they are and what they want.
So How’d it go?