white space: A graphic design term referring to the areas of a page without print or illustrations. Blank or negative space.
In today’s lingo, white space also refers to a schedule that isn’t overloaded or a room that isn’t crammed too full of stuff or decoration.
I crave white space in my life. I do not function well when my life or my surroundings are too cluttered.
For example: When I cook I like to work on a countertop clear of all unnecessary stuff. Since the kitchen island is like a huge magnet that attracts all objects coming into the house, I often find myself clearing the surface of things like dirty coffee mugs, bags of groceries, or a pile of mail before I begin preparing dinner. Maybe you are perfectly happy to carve out a patch of space and commence chopping onions, but I need more elbow room. (Or, as is often the case when I cook, splatter room.)
Here are some other areas where I like to have white space in my life.
- Pantry, closets, and fridge. I try to keep some literal white space in storage areas—some space left over so there is always room to hang another shirt or two in the closet or put three more cans of soup on the shelf. What about you? Do you function better when there is enough white space that you can see everything in your storage spaces at a glance, or does empty storage space make you twitch because it’s crying out to be filled?
- My virtual space. I don’t want email notifications cluttering my inbox or unused icons cluttering my desktop. Nor do I want my devices beeping at me. I like to check my accounts on my terms, not the computer’s. How much white space do you need in your virtual world?
- My schedule. As I have mentioned in several posts, I am an introvert. I need plenty of alone time to function properly. If I attend too many people-filled activities in one weekend, I am likely to have an introvert meltdown (not a pretty sight, trust me). On top of that, I do not have the seemingly boundless energy that some of my friends have. I need to pace myself or I will become exhausted before I get to the end of my day. [Which results in my hardworking, hungry husband arriving home from work and finding his wife slumped on the sofa with no hint of dinner on the horizon.]
- My work agenda. I can’t multitask. At. All. My brain has one channel. As far as my brain is concerned, everything not on that channel does not exist. Therefore, I have difficulty balancing more than one project at a time because I tend to forget everything beyond whatever I’m in the middle of right now. Since life rarely grants us just one project at a time, I need to create “white space time” to transition from one project to the next. Others may thrive on juggling many projects at once, and they don’t need to pad their day with white space like I do.
What about you? Do you have enough breathing room in your life? If you are feeling stressed, perhaps it’s time to look for places you can carve a little more white space into your life.
Three simple ways to find some white space
- Simplify something. Pick one area that causes stress and do something to simplify it. Figure out a better system for incoming mail. Eliminate one weekly activity from your schedule. Declutter the pantry.
- Say no to something. No to buying stuff you don’t need. No to giving up your self-care in order to accomplish one more task. No to that plea for volunteers when your schedule is already full. No to whatever is threatening to steal your white space.
- Take time for rest. And give yourself grace for needing it. Science tells us we stay healthier and perform more efficiently when we give ourselves adequate rest. Think of it as investment in future productivity if you have to, but carve out enough time to rest, mentally and physically.
White space. It can bring a little peace into our lives. Where do you need it?