Productivity: Manage Your White Space

wall space, white space

Designers and visual artists know that deliberate white space can make or break a piece. I’d like to contend that deliberate white space in one’s schedule can make or break productivity too.

Deliberately increasing white space in our schedule by giving ourselves obligation-free time can be both restorative and productive. It allows time for insights and words to crop up; it generates plans, paintings in progress, or service descriptions in the form of journal entries. It creates flexibility and flow.

In the frenzy surrounding our goals and to-dos, it’s easy to forget that sometimes we just need to sit still and let things gel.

On the flip side, taking the plans, the works in progress, and the journal entries to firm them up into something tangible is just as important. At this point, it’s time to reduce white space in our schedule.

My intuition is usually pretty good at telling me when I’ve been sitting too long and it’s time to get back to work. I’d wager that yours is, too.

Choosing to reduce white space in a schedule can be just as important as increasing it.

How do you create more white space in your schedule? How do you know when it’s time to reduce it and get moving?

8 thoughts on “Productivity: Manage Your White Space

  1. I’m driven to create white space when I feel stuck in my vision and can’t see far enough into the future. I know that’s when I need to create bigger goals than the day to day items on my list.
    Reading “The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People” really taught me that you have to make space for the bigger picture, or you just won’t go anywhere, except in circles.

    1. Anoushka, what a great indicator! I can relate to it well, thank you for making it even more tangible for me.

      ps – I read “The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People” several years ago; it’s one of few books that I would consider life-altering, and I do not use that term lightly.

  2. I am a fan of intuitive time – journaling, meditation, yoga, time on the land. But recently some part of me decided I needed even more white space. This past week I forgot a total of 5 planned and committed activities/dates. This far surpasses any previous record (like one a month) as I’m usually very reliable. When I got quiet and tried to see what was going on, I got the feeling that I needed to create more time that was totally open for anything. White space. I hadn’t thought of those words before, but that’s what it is.

  3. It’s amazing the insights brought to our attention in stillness, isn’t it?

    I practice intuitive time as well, mostly in the form of journaling (Morning Pages à la Julia Cameron), but I like that you make a distinction between that and “open” time. My cogs are now turning, exploring the relationship between the two. Thank you!

  4. Stephanie, I completely agree. I am at my most productive when I take a couple of minutes at regular intervals to just zone out for a little bit – perhaps read an article, look at something funny, have a quick chat with someone. If you’re concentrating for every minute of every day, how can you maintain your performance level? I once had a boss that aimed to do five hours of good work a day! The thing is that no one took a sick day or dossed because you were trusted to get through your workload in your own time (but on time!).

    1. ” I am at my most productive when I take a couple of minutes at regular intervals to just zone out for a little bit…”

      Sometimes a couple of minutes is all it takes! : )

  5. This is a very timely post. I’m in the process of re-organizing my daily schedule with a goal of deliberately building in white space. I’m also being aware of time when I’m not working, taking a breath, and enjoying it. Sitting outside when I can while on break and doing nothing at all. We have to create empty space. We can’t write on a page that’s already full. The fallow zone is crucial. Thanks for this reminder!

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