Productivity and the Importance of White Space

Girly Lamp

an example of purple space

Working at home with no one to report to but myself is prompting me to search for optimum - heck I'll settle for sustainable - work patterns that aren't forced on me by a 9-5 work day.

About two weeks ago I gave myself a mental health day: I put my to-do list aside and let my intuition guide my actions for an entire day. I liked it so much I decided to try it for a full week.

What I discovered is the importance of obligation-free time, or white space.

Designers and visual artists know that deliberate white space can make or break a piece. Lo & behold, deliberate white space in one's schedule can make or break productivity too.

In the frenzy and panic around creating revenue I forgot to allow myself time to just be, time to synthesize all I'd taken in and done over the past two months and let it gel.

Last week's deliberate increase in white space allowed time for insights and words to crop up. It generated plans, paintings in progress and service descriptions in the form of journal entries. It created flexibility and flow.

This week my intuition tells me it's time to take action. It's time to take the plans, the works in progress and the journal entries and firm them up into something tangible and complete. I feel rested and ready to do so. Reducing white space in my schedule is as much a deliberate choice as increasing it.

'Tis a fine and tricky line sometimes this quest for optimal sustainable productivity. Luckily if I'm not sure what to do, a gut check is usually all it takes to set me in the right direction.


How do you create more white space in your schedule? How do you know when it's time to reduce it?