Ahhh…white space. Getting any?

One of the things I love about weekends and holidays (especially the seasonal break just past) is that I get to carve out some “white space” for myself….some time that is unscheduled and simply there for me to chill, reflect, relax….or whatever else comes up that I choose.  In Dec/early January I had two weeks of it! And while I don’t always get to have those large chunks of time off, I do I try to carve bits of white space throughout my week  (albeit not always easy to do) …i.e. my morning coffee ritual is a ‘white space moment’ for me…I simply sit and enjoy my coffee and let my mind unfold….wake up….slowly. No papers, work, nada. Just me and my coffee.  To some extent, my morning runs also provide some ‘white space’…just me, the road and my mind.

It’s these moments that I often get my most creative, ‘out of the blue’, ideas….and often my best solutions to challenges that I’ve been dealing with. It’s when I’m not ‘working’ in a traditional sense that the ‘gems’ of insight come to me. It’s also these moments that I get to reflect and remember who I am and what it’s (the work) all about. Those bits of time ground me which is essential given the hectic pace of my worklife.

Most of us find ourselves on a treadmill of work that keeps us in busy mode…doing, doing with very little little time for reflection. I often hear people complain that they have no time to think. Even their work suffers because they don’t have the luxury of time to truly reflect and be as creative and innovative as they can. They are expected to generate breakthrough ideas/solutions/etc….but with no time to really think…..sigh.

Sound familiar??? Rush, rush….do, do….race from one meeting/task/assignment…to the next. White space? Nice idea…but too busy?  And for some of us…some feelings of guilt associated with ‘chilling out’. 

White space.

It’s good for you.

And it’s good for your work (and your employers, and  your clients…and any one else you interact with).

In an earlier post, I referenced a quote from Malcolm Gladwell who said in a Globe and Mail article that the mental demands of the workplace are steadily growing — and we’re all going to have to smarten up if we want to succeed: “I’m quite prepared for the possibility that the next revolution is not going to come from a machine…..it’s going to come from creating a more thoughtful work force and giving people the opportunity to be thoughtful.”

Opportunity to be thoughtful….hmmm…..white space gives that opportunity to be more thoughtful.

Ya think? Well, others do as well….

Debbie Weil wrote on her blog (called “Blogwrite for CEOs“) a post “Where is your white space for getting real work done” (real work as in creative thinking, reflecting, etc.)?

She points to an interesting article in the New York Times titled: You Won’t Find Me in My Office, I’m Working

So….

What does white space look like to you?

How much of it are you getting these days?

What can you do to carve out some for yourself…not just ‘now’ but on a regular basis?

If big chunks of time aren’t feasible right now, what can you do with small bits (white space can be powerful even in small doses)?

If you manage others or employ others – how are you doing in terms of supporting their need for white space — in service of inspiring their creativity?

What assumptions are you holding that you might want to challenge about being ‘busy’?

Now….I’d write some more but it’s Sunday and I feel a white space moment beckoning me.

Till next time,

Eileen

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