The Power of White Space

A coaching client of mine recently suffered some major stressful events in her life and shared the following with me in an email:   “Through it all I have (mostly) kept my cool and felt pretty good, at least until I got really sleep deprived. I credit this relative stability to working through the magical thinking, as you suggested. I’ve been learning to schedule time with lots of white space, and have not been stressed when I had to change plans at the last minute, which has happened a lot these past weeks. Not an expert at this by any means, but I can certainly testify that white space does wonders!”

White space does do wonders!  This individual had historically made it a point to schedule every available minute of her days, in order to maintain a high level of productivity.  She paid dearly though when things did not go according to plan.  By making the choice to create white space in her schedule, she provided herself with a soft landing pad of sorts during this period of intense stress, like a soft white pillow.  In the past she would have crashed into the “concrete” wall of her wall-to-wall commitments.

I understand how tough it is to allow for white space / downtime in one’s days and want to acknowledge this individual for being mindful enough to create it.  Through her coaching she not only identified this need, but has gone the distance, by making room for it in her life and now reaping the benefits.  Having experienced success, she can now use this experience as a touch point  in the future:  Whenever she finds herself wanting to schedule too much, she needs only to remind herself of what a difference having a little white space provided her in the past.

What might a little white space make possible for you?

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5 Responses to “The Power of White Space”

  1. Linda Samuels May 28, 2013 8:40 am #

    White space or unscheduled time is essential. Without it we feel frazzled and stressed. Two things that helps me strike my right balance are to be aware of what I say “yes” and “no” to and using a color-coded time blocked calendar which gives me an instant snapshot of where my scheduled and unscheduled time is. I literally can “see” the white space and that helps me decide about the yeses and nos.

    • Andrea Sharb May 29, 2013 5:03 pm #

      Thanks for commenting Linda. I don’t know where I’d be without my colored coded iCal.:) I love how you mentioned awareness. It is so key to having a different type of experience: saying no and having white space instead of yes and filling in the blocks.

  2. Ellen Delap January 30, 2014 9:00 am #

    I call time out white space too! For lots of reasons, we need down time whether it is to catch out breath, do a little admin time with our calendar and paper, or just not feel stressed rushing between appointments. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Seana Turner February 2, 2014 9:44 am #

    I so agree… white space gives us breathing room, provides a cushion for the unexpected and nourishes the soul. We often feel guilty for having this time, but it is delicious and necessary if we want to be productive!

    • Andrea Sharb February 2, 2014 11:07 am #

      I agree Seana, white space does nourish the soul. Unfortunately so many never get a chance to savor how “delicious” it is because they’re too booked to experience even a taste. Helping others build awareness around truths such as this is what I love most about what I do. Thanks for reading!

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