Creating White Space in A Busy, Cramped World

I used to crave the feeling of “being busy”.

To constantly have a calendar that was full and never ending to-do lists made me feel like I was doing something, that I had a place in the world and I was actively working to hold that place.

It’s the hustle mentality – something ingrained in many of us during our youth – the idea that the more you do, the more opportunities present themselves. It’s the belief that being overly busy and extended is a sign of productivity and growth.

Just to be clear, what I’m about to say is not an excuse for you to throw all your responsibilities to the wind, nor am I trying to knock those who hustle hard for what they want out of life. I know there are days, weeks, even seasons when you need to put your head down and battle through to move forward.

But actively seeking ways to “feel busy” as an everyday way of life gives me pause.

And with each pause I’m finding I’m much more interested in the idea of taking that need to be busy busy busy and turning it into what I like to call “white space”.

What is white space?

I like to think of it as the space in your calendar, to-do list, life that is left blank and open for…possibility.

It’s space for expanding your being and clarifying your needs.

It’s space that allows for the finer things in life that you desire.

It’s space, excuse me as I step on my hippie soapbox for a minute, to signal the universe you are ready for the ideal or much improved in your life, to make way for something closer to your truth.

Now the idea of creating this white space can seem like a luxury to some and a nonessential to many.

I know it was to me. Do you know how many more to-do’s I can check off my list in that open space?

{Approximately 3-5 if I’m feeling really ambitious, thank you very much}

But as I’ve uncovered throughout this wild transition of moving abroad – the noisier, busier, more cramped my life became, the more I needed quiet time to escape in order to stay in charge of my day/calendar/to-do list rather than at the mercy of it.

And when I take a look back the same is true when I was planning my wedding, starting a business, prepping for grad school, you name it – the more maddening things became, the more I needed time to step away.

If there’s anything these major life transitions have shown me it’s if you’re too busy to think about what you’re doing, you’re too busy period.

But I understand how letting some of the space in your life be blank and open can feel uncomfortable, somewhat painful, and just a waste of precious time.

There are still moments when I know pausing for just 10 minutes to write out my thoughts or sit quietly would do wonders to my frantic mental state – but I still feel totally weird about it. Because it does feel uncomfortable, somewhat painful, and like a waste of precious time; even though it’s proven time and again to improve my focus and sense of clarity.

At the end of the day, however – despite the awkward feelings of discomfort – creating white space is essential to finding balance, gaining clarity on what’s really important, and feeling a sense of peace that we cannot otherwise achieve within an overly busy, cramped life.

“If you’re too busy to think about what you’re doing, you’re too busy period.”

So the question that begs answering is how can you create white space for yourself?

Contrary to how you may be thinking, it doesn’t have to be anything monumental – it can actually be quite simple to work into your day-to-day life.

Here are a few ways I like to create white space in my day:

1. Wake up earlier – I know, I know, in an ideal world you wouldn’t have to wake as early as you already do, and now I’m over here telling you to wake up even earlier. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, and you may have a schedule that simply doesn’t allow for it. BUT, there is something quite beautiful about rising before the rest of the world to spend some quiet time with yourself before all the usual day-to-day madness hits.

2. Get outdoors – I firmly believe there are few things that a walk outside can’t help fix. And again, it doesn’t have to be a huge ordeal – take a short stroll on your lunch break or get your late afternoon caffeine fix from the coffee shop a couple blocks away rather than across the street. Put in the effort and find ways to make it work for you.

3. Flip the off switch – While I’m all for mindless TV to help decompress every now and then {I can Netflix binge with the best of them}, sometimes it can do more damage than good as you’re not truly letting your mind rest when watching 6 episodes straight of OITNB. Instead, try flipping the off switch and grab a book, take a bath, paint, draw, close your eyes and listen to some chill tunes, whatever lets your mind let go and wander freely.

4. Meditate – You knew this one was coming, I won’t go into detail about the benefits of mediation – we’ve all seen the studies and read the articles touting the great power of mediation. The only question is, if you’re not meditating, what are you waiting for?

5. Quit mindless internet – The endless scrolling of Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram is such a time and energy suck. It may not feel like it in the moment, especially if you’re just popping on to see what people are up to or get some inspiration, but if you find yourself just scrolling and scrolling {and scrolling}, not looking at anything in particular, cut it off. This is especially hazardous right before bedtime, I’ve had many a restless night sleep due to mindless internet stalking right before shuteye.

The fact is opportunity, possibility, and growth require space to unfold.

And while it may feel uncomfortable, silly, or as if you’re wasting time, I encourage you to seek moments – no matter how small – to explore, think, and reflect.

You’ll be amazed at all the possibility right in front of you simply waiting for you to reach out and grab hold.

Photos Via: Simon James Design | HerAesthetic