Why "White Space" is So Important in Our Weekly Calendar
When do you have your best ideas?
For me, it’s almost always when I’m at my most relaxed. That’s when a moment of true inspiration happens. It could be in bed at the end of a long day, in the car to meet a friend, while I’m doing mundane household chores, or any other quiet time of the day.
Our brains are often at their most creative when they have time to wander, rather than when we’re focused on getting a task or project done. Of course, for many of us with busy work schedules, family commitments, and a never-ending to-do list, these moments are few and far between - but they don’t have to be.
These quiet times of day can be scheduled by blocking out time known as “white space.” This refers to unscheduled blocks of time in your day.
That means no meetings, no tasks to complete, just dedicated time to think… brainstorm.. ideate...and dream.
Why is White Space Important?
Carving out an hour or two isn’t just the perfect environment to be creative and think outside the box, it also gives your brain the chance to rest. This means when you return to your schedule, you’ll be able to more actively engage in meetings and get work done faster.
What’s more, having room to think without direction means you can take a better look at the bigger picture and consider the future. We tend to get weighed down by what’s on our to-do list and forget to think even a month in advance - let alone one, five, or ten years.
The idea of white space is to separate yourself from your in-the-moment demands and just let your mind relax and expand.
How to Make Room for White Space in Your Calendar
The first tip is fairly straightforward: Quite literally block out white space in your calendar. In the same way that you would pencil in a meeting that you don’t want to be interrupted, make room for yourself in your routine. If this means letting other colleagues or family members know about your plans - do it. You want this time to be sacred!
The next step is to find a way to make white space work for you. While some people like meditation, others like to go for a walk. Some people need to be doing something with their hands, so perhaps spend some time with an adult coloring book or another activity that doesn’t require much mental engagement.
You could also engage in some light, freeform journaling. Have you heard of the method called Morning Pages?
No matter what activity you choose, the goal is to encourage your brain to relax and expand, so make sure the activity is nothing too engaging or strenuous.
Finally, be sure to protect this white space. It might feel tempting to discard it in favor of other tasks that might seem more pressing - but resist that urge. Not only is it important for your productivity, but it’s also vital for your brain to have some time to rest. You’ll thank yourself, once this becomes a habit and you start to see results!