There are moments in life where enough is enough. You can’t do one more thing, can’t deal with one more piece of drama. You simply can’t take anymore.
These moments should be few and far between in the overall spectrum that is life. But for many of us when crunch time comes, it feels like it is us that is getting crunched, not the task at hand. Why is that?
Most of us live our lives with zero margins. We play all in all the time. We feel like a good day is one in which we pass out at some point simply due to exhaustion. And though, yes, these are clear marks of giving it your all. Far too often we are giving more than we realize.
It isn’t just giving up a few hours of sleep, or giving up a meal, or giving up all of our physical energy. What we are really giving up is our whitespace.
In book publishing and graphic design, whitespace is all of that area in between the words, in between the graphics.
The whitespace can be the header and footer on the page, the side margins, or just the spacing between elements. The amount of whitespace on a page either makes someone feel at peace or in a panic. But the whitespace does so much more than just evoke an emotion in the moment. The whitespace is our visual “time out” to stop and process before moving on.
Think about whitespace as the safety zone in the game of tag. If you made it to the safety zone, you were safe as long as you were in there. You could catch your breath and make plans for your next move. That’s whitespace for your brain.
Whitespace allows you to figure out what is really going on. Whitespace allows you to take a break and rest up. Whitespace allows you to play smart without having to spend all of your mental and physical reserves.
What does whitespace look like in our everyday lives?
Whitespace is actually having down time before you fall asleep (not pass out.) Whitespace is not being scheduled every single minute of every single day. Whitespace is having yourself, your needs, and your priorities on your schedule just as much as everyone else is. Whitespace is having freedom and flexibility to flow with life and not get freaked out.
So how do you go from the overwhelm to a life built with whitespace?
1. Start With Your Schedule. To go from pure out overwhelm to whitespace requires you to rework your schedule. You must discipline yourself to only do what is written down. Everything must get assigned a time. And the task must only get accomplished within that timeframe.
2. Get Real About Time. Far too often we underestimate how much time it takes to achieve a task. We forget about the little details like (I have to go pee at some point. I need to eat lunch at some point.) All these little mis-estimations in time have a bigger impact on our schedules and our whitespace than we realize.
3. Put You First. Yes, your needs go first in your schedule. Your personal appointments, workout times, days off, start times, end times - you are first and your priorities are immovable.
4. Respect The Framework (and make others do too.) Living a life with whitespace isn’t about living by a schedule. But at the moment we have to retrain our mindset, habits, and subconscious mind until our new patterns become our innate way of life. So while new habits are being formed, you have to be unapologetic about respecting your time and you must make others do the same. So no it isn’t ok that someone is 20 minutes late for an appointment. No, your kiddo can’t tell you that a huge project is due tomorrow morning and they haven’t even started. You have to respect your time and the tasks that are set aside to be accomplished within that timeframe.
5. Follow The 45 Minute Rule. For every 45 minutes you work, you take 15 minutes for yourself. That can be that you schedule 45 minute appointment vs an hour appointment giving you 15 minutes to take care of you in between clients in your workday. That can be for every 4 hours you work, you give yourself an hour worth of flex time for whatever you need to accomplish.
Living a life with whitespace is about more than slowing down and taking time for yourself. Living a life with whitespace is about living a life that optimizes your thinking, creativity, productivity, problem-solving, and personality to your advantage.