Are you pressed for time? Totally overwhelmed by your never-ending to-do list and unable to recharge? Maybe you’re working long hours or bogged down with family responsibilities or errands. Perhaps it feels impossible to take time for yourself — to enjoy your life, and actually squeeze in some fun and adventure.
If this resonates with you — and you feel like you’re too wiped to carry on as you have been — I’m going to suggest something that might feel counter-intuitive at first.
I’m going to have you add one more half-hour commitment to your weekly schedule. I know. That probably sounds awful. But keep an open mind and stick with me. This half-hour commitment? It requires you to do absolutely nothing beyond schedule it, show up for it without a plan, and do whatever you damn please. That’s all.
In the personal development and coaching world this is known as creating “white space.” It’s the practice of setting aside unplanned, uninterrupted time in your calendar to just be. And, let me tell you — if you’re not utilizing this method, you’re missing out.
Why? Because having unstructured time in your day feeds your soul, your inspiration, and ultimately gives you more energy than you’d have if you'd slogged through every task on your to-do list at a go-go-go nonstop pace. And if you have a full life and don’t schedule this time for yourself, it’s unlikely that you’re actually taking quiet time to process and relax and ohmygosh breathe.
You might read all of this and think you don't have time for white space. There was a time I thought that too. I ate lunch at my desk everyday and felt lucky to squeeze in an evening dance class once a week. I was always on the go and focused on the next task, which led to me feeling tired all the time and hardly present in each moment.
The truth is, if you feel like you're always pressed for time, white space is EXACTLY what you need! Because you’ve gotta recharge your batteries at some point. And you’ll show up ready and energized to take on the next day or week ahead if you just allow yourself some space to chill. Trust me. Everyone in your life will love you for doing it. Most importantly, you’ll love yourself for doing it.
Even the busiest of folks are able to create space. I’ve had clients who come to me feeling overwhelmed and burnt out to the max, only to realize in a single session or two that they hold the power to shift their daily experience and energy levels. That they can choose another way of managing their time and getting things done. All it takes is a willingness to try a new approach. It goes like this:
1) Give yourself permission to schedule some unstructured “you” time. (Sometimes this is harder than it sounds. Try anyways.)
2) Start small. Schedule 30 minutes of white space. Avoid the temptation to plan out what you’ll do during the time (I’m lookin’ at you, productivity pros who are trying to figure out what errands can be completed in that time period!).
3) Follow through on your scheduled time and enjoy your white space. Get quiet and ask yourself what you feel like doing, where you feel like being, etc. Roll with it.
4) See what ideas or feelings come forward. Notice them with a curiosity and just accept whatever surfaces to the best of your ability. Some people get an instant “where has this white space concept been my whole life?! I absolutely love this!” feeling. Others feel really antsy the first time they slow down like this — if so, that’s okay. You likely feel antsy because it’s been a long time since you just paused, and having downtime feels like new territory. Remember that this is just an experiment. It’s all feedback.
5) Do whatever you feel called to do in that moment. Maybe you watch some funny YouTube videos. Call a best friend. Walk your dog. Lounge in a hammock. Jot down ideas. Whip up a snack. Organize your sock drawer. Meditate. Run around the block a few times. Nap. Perhaps you even feel really excited to run a particular errand (hey, whatever floats your boat — but only do this if it’s something you’ll genuinely enjoy). Or, maybe you do nothing. That’s also encouraged.
It doesn’t matter what you choose, it just matters that you enjoy it, that you follow through on your commitment to yourself and try something new.
I’m a huge advocate for white space because I’ve witnessed the effects on friends and clients, and I’ve personally experienced the benefits. I’m my best self when I have plenty of time to recharge and play, to the point where I now typically try to leave a full day open every weekend to soak up some sun and go wherever the wind takes me (it usually takes me to the beach).
No plans, no errands, just total freedom to be spontaneous. And let me tell you: it’s the best. thing. ever! It’s such a simple yet effective way to relieve yourself of that time-crunch feeling. And in the end, creating this kind of freedom is a choice.
Freedom is one of my top values, so I protect my white space fiercely. It’s sacred to me. And I can’t recommend it highly enough.
If you end up trying out the process I described above, I’d love to hear about your experience. Feel free to send me a message and share what unfolds during your adventure.
You got this,