Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Understanding the Importance of White Space

If you are human, you are bombarded on every side with things to do.

Tasks to complete. To-do lists to mark as to-done lists.

People to serve and/or please. A family to take care of. Chores that have to be done. Meals that have to be made. A roof that has to be kept over your head.

Oh yeah, and a book that you want to write.

But when do you find the time to do something you want to do in the midst of everything you need to do?

The practice of putting white space or margin into your life will become one of the most critical skills you can ever learn and put into practice, and for more than just finding the time to work on your story.

What is “White Space”?

It can best be defined as: a space of time, free of obligations or guilt and is purely set aside for the person in question to do what refreshes their soul at the deepest level.

So how in the world do you plan white space into your life, in a day that is already over booked, over worked and over promised?

You plan ahead.

You say no.

The only way to make white space happen is to create habits in your life that allow for white space to flourish.

Here is one example: I set my alarm thirty minutes early in the morning so that I can get up and get all of my extracurricular work done in the morning. This includes writing my blogs (if I have any), doing miscellaneous VA work, answering emails, etc.

This also means that I have to get to bed at least thirty minutes earlier the night before, which really for the sake of my day job, that needs to happen no matter what.

Don’t misunderstand me here either, I don’t do all of the tasks that I listed above in those extra thirty minutes that I have. But if I plan correctly, one day I can get the blog written while another day I do all the VA work. I don’t have to do all the tasks on one day, if I plan ahead accordingly.

So, when I get home from work at the end of the day, the only obligation I have is to do activities that feed my soul creatively.

For those of you with families…this strategy will look different and every day is not going to be a cookie cutter of the last one.

But the concept remains the same.

What do you plan ahead of time to then give you time that you wouldn’t have otherwise had?

If I leave my VA and blogging work until the end of the day? I’m exhausted. Easily distracted by social media and putter around for an hour before actually getting the work done which takes me twice as long.

Whereas in the morning, I’m motivated by a ticking clock that tells me I have to be at work on time.
What can you say no to? What do you need to say no to?

As humans we want to be goers and doers. A great thing to go and be. Until it becomes the worst thing that we can by over committing and under nourishing ourselves.

Here is my challenge to you for the next two weeks: pray and evaluate one or two things that you can say “no” to. Either end your obligation or don’t sign up for it in the first place.

Second: how can you schedule in white space? What can you rearrange to give yourself this time to breathe, rest and revitalize? Maybe it’s something as simple as what I did, in rearranging the order in which you do things.

White space is the greatest gift you can give to yourself. It’s an opportunity to connect with the Lord and partake in the gifts He’s giving to you to enjoy (ie: your writing).

Leave me a comment below…are you searching for white space? Have you learned a few tricks to help you grab hold?


Casey Herringshaw is a homeschool graduate and has been writing since high school. She lives in colorful Colorado where she gets to live her dream stalking--er--visiting with her favorite CO authors. 


Jeanne Takenaka said...

Great post, Casey! I read the title, and I was pretty sure you were the author. You've come up with some great strategies for creating white space in your life.

What I've discovered is that I have to be intentional about doing this. And, as you mentioned, take the steps necessary so I can do it. Going to bed earlier is so important. I have to determine in my mind that white space is a valid need in my life, not just a want. And then I need to prioritize for it.

Am I always good at this? No. My seasons with my family change. Which requires me to change how I do things. But this is a great practice, and your suggestions are practical, Casey!

Sylvia said...

At this time in my life I am fortunate to have plenty of white space. I feel for those who are run ragged and have absolutely no space at all.

Casey, I must say that is a beautiful headshot of you. The image composition is flattering and you look stunning. Is the image new?

This is off topic and I don't want to pry, but are you still writing or is that on the back burner for now? I would love to read books by you one day.

Karen Sargent said...

White space can be so difficult to make happen, but it's so vital. I've never been a morning person, but I've found it's the best time for me to write or blog. My brain is fresh, the house is quiet, and I can get so much accomplished. When I write in the morning, I don't feel pressured to squeeze it in during the day or evening, so writing is a pleasure not a stress! Thanks for the reminder that I need to stay disciplined and set the alarm a little earlier!

Unknown said...

The past few weeks were virtually absent of any white space. Sometimes life gets crazy, and when things settle back down I realize how important having that bit of time truly is. Enjoying my "white space" more than ever now.

Casey said...

JEANNE, intention is everything with white space. I've found this out too. And as you mentioned, sometimes each day's strategies for making it happen have to be different. And there are some weeks even when it happens very little. But when it becomes a priority for me, I find that it's easier to make it happen. And understanding that it is definitely a need for your soul and having seen myself without it, has made a huge impact.

Casey said...

SYLVIA, yay for an abundance of white space!! Virtual high fives all around! You are kind, thank you! They are new headshots taken this year at the ACFW National Conference. I am writing, though slowly and in the drips and drabs right now. You are an encouragement, so thank you for asking!

Casey said...

KAREN, not a morning person here either, sister. I feel your pain! Ha! But I've found, as you said, that I can get SO much accomplished if I get up a little earlier in the morning and buckle down on that focus. I find I'm not as distracted at that time of the day. I honestly don't think I'm good creatively for fiction at that time of the day, but if I get all the to-do's out of the way, it gives me time to be creative later without anything hanging over my head. :)

Casey said...

CAITLIN, those kind of weeks happen and I think sometimes we just have to let them happen and wait for the next break to take a deep breath and reevaluate so those weeks don't become a habit. It can be easy to slip into constant busyness and almost become addicted to it. I'm glad you're getting time to breathe! It refreshes the soul, doesn't it?