January 16, 2017

How to Create White Space in your Day and Why that is Important

Creating white space in my days is one of my biggest goals this year.  But what is white space?  White space is that margin in your day, your breathing room.

I know that probably sounds funny, why would you want to create white space in your day, but I realized during my year of action last year that I need that white space in order to be present in my life.  I can’t continue to fill it up when I see an opening.

Several years ago I learned to say no.  It seems like such an easy concept, but I was used to saying yes, no matter how much I actually wanted to say no.  I would say yes to time commitments that didn’t make sense for our family, and I would say yes to toys that I knew I didn’t really want in our home.

It was incredibly stressful.

In 2015 I had a pretty good balance of white space in my life, and I think that was partly because I had a new little baby to take care of, and it is easy to say no when you have a baby.  Of course, that didn’t really create white space in my life, I had an infant; there is no such thing as white space with an infant!


In 2016, my year of action, I started filling in that white space with a lot of activities.  Activities for me, I wanted to be more involved in our community, so I started to be more involved.  Matt and I wanted the kids in activities, so we enrolled them in more than we normally would.  I was bending over backwards to build up the blog, and that obviously takes an insane amount of time.

All of this took its toll on me.

It became evident to me right around the start of the holidays, and our long homeschool break.  I had let all of the white space fill up again, and that was not healthy, especially as an introvert who needs that quiet and alone time to recharge.


Our holiday break flew by, and I didn’t bake like I normally do, we didn’t do our big Christmas Eve open house like we normally do.  I didn’t blog like I normally do.

It all came to a stop.

The funny thing is that our days were still super busy.  We were still reading books, we still did crafts, I still cleaned my house (for the most part) and tried to read; I still prepared meals.

What this showed me is that I have been overloading my days with the tasks that need to be completed.

I took a step back and realized that even though I was on this “break” my days were still full, and it made me wonder how I had been able to keep up with all the other stuff when my days were already so full.

I needed some changes for my own sanity.

What is the purpose of creating white space?

When I think of white space, I think of room in my calendar.  When there is white space in my calendar I have room to breathe, room to do spur of the moment activities, and room to recharge.


When you have a little bit of free time in your day, you can choose to do other activities on a whim.  Perhaps it is baking cookies with your kids, or doing some meditative coloring, reading a book, or saying yes to a last minute coffee date with a friend.  Having that white space, or margin, allows that to happen.

But how do you get to that point?  How do you incorporate white space?  How do you plan for nothing to be going on?


Believe me, these are questions that I have been asking myself for the last couple of months.

This is a big reason my word of the year is margin, because I need to look at my entire life, and goals, and make sure that I am leaving room for white space in my life.

I realized that it was time for another 168 hours assessment.

Every one of us has 168 hours in the week, and we choose what we will use those hours for.  We can choose to fill them up to overflowing, or we can choose to leave some of those hours, empty spaces.

I looked at everything that I did in a week, and it was slightly overwhelming.  I know that I am constantly jumping back and forth between tasks, homeschooling the kids, mothering the kids, blogging, reading for myself, reading to the kids, knitting, journaling, zoning out in front of the tv at night because it was a particularly difficult evening routine.  Making sure everyone is fed, the never-ending laundry pile; sports practices, games, theater, piano, church.  It was a slightly stressful list of *stuff.*

I get it, how do you even find time in there to make white space?  How can you choose what to give up?  I think that personally I feel the stress of having a toddler, the craziness of being home with three small children.

I need strategies to help me work through these times in order to be the best person I can be, and when I don’t have the white space in my life, my kids feel it.  They can see my stress, and I don’t want that for them.


What can be done?  Well, I realized that I needed to take a hard look at the tasks that I am doing daily and see if there were ways that I could streamline some of them.

I am never going to have a day without interruption, and would be insane to think that would ever happen.  I can’t create a schedule and know that we will stick to it because there are always those urgent needs that come up.

What I have decided is to do just one thing.

When I am homeschooling my kids, make it just about homeschooling instead of jumping around once I get them settled to do some independent work.  

I notice that when I get up to change laundry over, or start to make food, or throw dishes in the dishwasher, my kids tend to take longer at their homeschooling tasks.  This throws off our days, making them longer than they need to be with regards to school.

I need to deal with menu planning in a much better way – by using my freezer to help out.  I can’t even count the number of times 4pm rolls around and I have nothing ready for dinner, and end up getting take out because I don’t have time to prepare any of the whole ingredients I keep in my house before we rush off to our next evening activity.

I have to get help with my blog.  I have been a one woman show for 6 years, but it has gotten to the point where I need a little extra help so that I can concentrate on the things that are most important to me with the blog – sharing my journey and building community.

What can you do with white space? 

Well, you can use it to say yes to activities that you really want to do in the moment, or it can be just that, white space in your day, where you are able to spend time with your family, without being concerned about all the things you *should* be doing.

Do you want to create more white space in your day?  What area do you think you could adjust in order to garner that white space?

27 comments:

  1. I definitely need to create white space in my day because it seems all I do is work and no play. I often overload myself with chores.

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  2. Balance is so important for all of us. Especially for persons who work at home, this becomes even more important

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  3. I'm also working on adding in some white space in my days. I need it. We all do. But, its tricky to find the room - like you said. But, at least acknowledging it is a step in the right direction.

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  4. I am loving this post. I want to share it on my own page! I love the idea of "white space" and am going to promote it next week as my thing to do!!

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    1. Thanks Terri! It is something that is a constant struggle for me, but I am definitely trying to work on it. I feel like it gives you a bit more freedom, and we can all use that!

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  5. I've never heard of that breathing room being referred to as white space and I'm loving it. You are so very right. When I don't have that time in my day I feel depleted and I know I'm not my best self. This was really helpful, thank you!

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  6. I definitively need more white space in my life. My only alone time is when I go walking and that is usually with others.

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  7. As an introvert, I have to have white space in my life or I feel awful both physically and mentally. It's amazing how too much activity can wear a person down. The hardest part, for me, isn't saying no. It's the responses from people who can't comprehend why I need to say no. Beautiful post that is much needed.

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  8. I love this post! I have recently noticed that I haven't been given myself to much room to breathe and relax so I'm trying to time everything so that I do get a couple minutes of "white space" before going to bed.

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  9. white space is so important and I never would have thought to have called it that! 2016 was a year of learning how to be comfortable by myself and have a lot of white space. I am so thankful for that time.

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  10. I am not much of a scheduler mainly because as an actor I never know what my work hours will look like. I leave a ton of white space in my day on purpose so that I don't over commit.

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  11. This is actually perfect and I really needed this! I have been feeling like i'm not present enough and I am definitely guilty of filling up all of my time because I don't say no! Something I definitely need to work on

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  12. As mothers, we all need that white space in order to not go crazy, I believe. I try my best to utilize naptime for blogging but at least once or twice a week, I just veg out and nap with no regrets. Love this post- hope all moms can find their white space.

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  13. This is really important. I need to make sure I leave some white space because I usually dont and I end up ready for bed, and miserable early quite often. - jeanine

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  14. Balance is really important and attempting to make time to just have some downtime is also important. Relaxation is so vital to sanity.

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  15. Wow I never thought about how important it could be to have time set aside to do nothing during the day. Life with my little ones definitely gets crazy and I can see how important this is!

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  16. Balancing everything can be so hard but it's so important. I loved this little read. Such great insight and tips. Thanks for sharing.

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  17. This was so important for me to read - I'm definitely feeling overwhelmed at the moment and stressed about all I need to be doing all the time. I definitely need to find myself some white space.

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  18. Love this and thanks for sharing! I am trying to do this as well for 2017 and enjoy each moment! Love!

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  19. I couldn't agree more, white space is super important. For those of us always chasing dreams we forgot to take a minute to relax and a lot of times end up crashing.

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  20. I LOVE this idea. Actually calling it "white space" makes it so visual - my calendar is so packed - and this really drove it home that I'm not allowing myself time to do spur-of-the-moment things.

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  21. I agree, it is so important to make sure we are balancing our time and not filling our schedules to an overwhelming level. This takes practice though and is something I have to be consistently conscious of.

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  22. Such a good post it's so inspiring for me and I think I need this white space too. I'm suffering from deppression few weeks ago until now, I can't get up and finish all my works I don't have confidence or I'm not in my concentration. I laid up all day and I'm in to the point that Over thinking. I want to create white space and I need to take down all my activities there so I have a time to cook for my family too.

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  23. I definitely am a "yes" person too, and struggle to find time for myself.. After working all day, I struggle to go home, stay awake, get to the gym and get home in time to do everything else I have to do (more work, blogging, hanging out with family, relaxing). Definitely need to take this post to heart and create some more white space and me time!

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  24. Yes I need to create white space. I am horrible when it comes to saying no to things. It 's my goal to become more aware of this! Amber n

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  25. This is awesome! It's so easy for me to stay busy busy and then actually not feel like I'm accomplishing anything. It's vital to create white space to stay sane!

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  26. I'm such a workaholic, but lately I've been also thinking of leaving more time for doing nothing or just enjoy time with people you love. However, it's so incredibly hard to just stop working.... Perhaps creating "white space" in the calendar might help... Thanks for the advice!

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