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Personal White Space: What it Means and 5 easy Steps to Find Yours

 

 

The term Personal White Space showed up in a recent conversation I had with a lovely, wise human I previously worked with. The term came up as she shared how she transformed the way she approached her work. She spent many years working long hours and travelling extensively for her career, all the while juggling being a parent and wife. But, a little while ago, she decided to challenge this. Instead of tirelessly racing around “trying to keep up”, she successfully redefined how she chooses what she does. She thought about how she really wanted her work-life to look.

 

Want to say “no” to things which do not matter so that you can say “yes” to those which do?

 

She created space in her life for reflection. It brought her clarity around what she truly wanted to do … and how much time she wanted to spend doing it.  And now she is very, very happy with where she landed. To get there, she created Personal White Space. The leveraged the insight she gained to redesign how she wanted to work going forward. Once she gave herself permission to have White Space in her busy life, everything changed.  So what do we mean by the term “Personal White Space”, you ask?

 

White space is defined as “The unprinted area of a piece of printing, as of a poster or newspaper page. White space is as effective in a layout as type.” 

 

Personal White space refers to leaving areas in your day blank.  Resisting the urge to fill every moment with tasks – so that you can be more intentional around how you want to live. And be more present in the here and now. The rational is that Personal White Space is required to keep the balance with your life’s tasks.

 

 

Are your days and weeks busier than you’d like them to be?

 

Anyone who knows me would agree that it is a bit ironic that I am writing about this topic. I am notorious for packing as much as I can into a day. I say yes to too much. And once I commit to something, my discipline and work ethic won’t let me budge on not following through. I’ll do it no matter what. But within my conversation with my friend, something clicked. I understood I need to be as intentional around creating White Space in my life, as I am for everything else I make time for.

 

What is your story around being too busy?

 

Humans are busier and more rushed now than they have ever been in the history of mankind. The convenience of modern-day technology comes at a high price. Everything is faster. We can always be reached. Instant gratification is the norm. There is pressure to make everything bigger and immediate.

 

In addition, our own expectations of ourselves are higher. We wear many different hats.  Social media has us believe that everyone else’s lives are picture perfect. It looks like everyone has their stuff together. Yet, our own lives don’t feel like that at all. This in itself, causes stress and dissatisfaction.  We can see it when we look at ourselves in the mirror in the morning.  Or at night before we go to bed exhausted but unable to sleep because we can’t turn off the switch.

 

What does rushing around and being too busy cost you – in the short and long-term?

 

Everything has its price and our busyness is no exception. We may get a lot of stuff done, but what does it cost us? Our physical and mental health? Our relationships? Our environment? Are we okay with this? Is it worth it? No, not if you read any of the literature on the effects of stress on the body. I won’t rehash all of that in this blog.  Aside from robbing us of a healthy, happy future, stress impacts us in each moment of our present day-to-day.  The more we do, the faster we go and the less present we are in what we do. It is no surprise that “time flies”.

 

How do you feel when you are typing away at your computer while your child is left eating breakfast by herself? Guilty? The guilt we feel lays heavy on our souls. For example, I think one of the reasons our kids seem to be growing up so fast, is that we are not totally present with them in the here and now. And the guilt we feel is keeping us from enjoying the moments we do share together. It is no wonder that stress is a leading health concern. Contrary to the mantra of technology, faster is usually not better for us humans.

 

How do you slow down – create White Space – in your life?

 

 

At this point, you are likely thinking “Simone, this is depressing but inevitable. What on earth can we do to break out of this pace?” I could list a series of solutions for you. But I know my suggestions can’t possibly serve all of you.  Each person is so different. Some of my suggestions may work for many, but not all. So, instead of offering “the 5 ways to create more white space”, I am going to lead you through a series of steps, which are rooted in coaching principles, to help you find your own answers. The ones which will work for you because they are aligned to your values, perspectives, experiences and life situation.

 

Step One. Figure out the What and the Why, before the How.

Let’s tackle this question by first looking at how you would feel, if you were not too busy all of the time. If you already had pockets of White Space in your day and life? How would you experience your life differently? What would be available or possible for you, which is not happening now? Don’t think about how you are going to make this happen right now. Just think about what your life would look like if you had respite from your busyness sprinkled throughout your week.  What would you be making room for? What would change? In your relationships, in your work or in your health? Or put another way, what experiences could you have if you had White Space?

 

I advise you to first sit with these questions and journal your answers (i.e. hold onto your thoughts in a deliberate way), before you move on to the next section. Only once you have answered the questions above, are you ready to tackle the “How”. This goes for most self-development work, by the way. Never in reverse. Just trust me on this one. It would take us off topic to go into detail about why, but I do cover this in my Mastermind program.

 

Step Two. Brainstorm a long list of options.

Now, sit down with a piece of paper and some coloured markers (or a spread sheet if that is more your thing) and brainstorm all of the ways you could possibly create White Space in your life.  For, example you could put “do less” on our to-do lists (ironic, I know). Or say “no” to some of the stuff which does not serve you. Or start that meditation practise you have been thinking about. In this step, it is important you make an exhaustive list.  Put some “out of the box” stuff on that list too. Pst, you don’t have to actually do everything on this list. The goal of brainstorming is to open up creative solutions.

 

 

Step Three. Pick a select number of items to start doing.

Within this list, there will be several items you find yourself drawn to. Circle 3-5 items you think would serve you the best (or more if you wish). These are items worthy of exploring and getting more detailed with. Take each item and think about how you can make it work for you. For example, let’s say you circled “saying no more often”. How would that look? Under what conditions do you struggle doing this? How would you need to approach it instead to ensure you do say no when you need to?

 

Step Four. Make an action plan.

Now you are ready to draft a plan. How will you start making a habit of creating more White Space? What does this look like day to day, week by week and month by month? Think it through. Use what you know about yourself, to make a solid plan you can start today. Step by step. Work through each item.  If it helps, visualize your plan and putt it up where you can see it.

 

Also, consider how you may be derailed from you plan. Think of how to avoid potential pitfalls. Basically, have a back up plan in case your original plan falls apart. You know yourself better than anyone else. If any part of your plan does not work as you hoped, just adapt it. It’s your plan! It has to serve your goal –  to create White Space in your life.

 

Step Five. Acknowledge and celebrate your successes.

Each time you honour the White Space you set out for yourself (i.e. resist falling back into your busyness business), acknowledge your success and celebrate it in some small way. Or not so small. Whatever works for you. But basically, don’t step over your successes. Don’t let them happen without celebrating them.  It’s hard for many of us to prioritize our health and happiness.  Celebrate your wins, as it will reinforce the likelihood of more. When you have a set back, acknowledge this as well. And revise your plan to take that into account so you can avoid stumbling over it the next time.

 

You are a wonderful person full of extraordinary potential.

 

You can’t tap into your real potential if you are running around like a mad hatter. You know it’s true, right? Give yourself – especially your mind – the gift of White Space. When you do, life won’t feel as difficult anymore. You will be able to enjoy the moment, versus fretting about the next one. 

I will try this myself.  I have already started. For example, I am writing this blog while sitting by a pond in the sun. It does not feel like work. It feels like harmony. Thank you for reading my blog and please share it with anyone you know who could use more White Space too.

 

Namaste,

Simone

I am available for a select group of one-on-one coaching clients. Besides personal coaching, I also teach people how to coach themselves, either one-on-one or within a Mastermind group. Which method would work best for you? Check out the options on my website by CLICKING HERE.

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This 12-week facilitated online mastermind group takes you through the full self-coaching curriculum during live online training sessions along with a select group of peers. This option offers a sense of community, live group discussions, Q&A’s and an option of pairing up with an accountability partner. Each component of The Self Coach Approach is broken down into weekly topics, interactive exercises and tasks to take you through one session to the next to complete your total experience. You will learn everything you need to successfully coach yourself and have fun while doing it.

 

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