How Are You Designing Your White Space?

I was wrapping up a very full week the following question popped into my mind.

“Chris, How are you using your white space?

I had had a very productive week and the weekend was masterfully planned.  This thought obviously was not for me.

Funny thing happened, this idea, the one I was trying to ignore, kept popping up over and over again. Each time it came back up I got a little more frustrated and then a lot more curious.  Its not like I am a graphic designer or a retail space planner, so to me this too could be ignored.

A few hours later,  “Chris, about that white space, how are you using it?” 

Really?  Who is in my head?  I was trying to stay focused, intentionally rocking along, that is, until Saturday when my family planned  for me.  I was at Starbucks brainstorming business goals and objectives with a friend.  We had checked time before we started and we both had open calendars, no appointments for several hours.  One idea led to another and before we knew it we had spent 3 hours in the zone, creative juices flowing and a floodgate of ideas filled the pages.

As i looked down new text came across my phone.  ” HOW MUCY LONGER?”  as I looked down, I saw the time 2 pm! Wow where had time gone. His phone rings and in unison we know WE GOTTA GO !!!.

As I drove home I thought about how incredibly productive we had been.  It was so refreshing emptying all things out on the table and experiencing the synergy of new and better ideas.  Challenging and invigorating goals.

“ Make an empty space in any corner of your mind

and creativity will instantly fill it.”    Dee Hock

As I walked into the house I noticed my 4 year old grand daughter was dressed and ready to GO.  In fact both my husband and her were waiting on me – TO GO.

 “Can I GO with you Nama, Can I.”

Puzzled I asked, “Where?”    I had no idea, yet it appears they knew and with those baby blue eyes there was no way I even considered saying no.

 “OK, Let’s GO!”

As we pulled out of the garage, I asked where we were going, what is the plan, when will we be back?”  I have learned to be more interruptible yet inside I’m thinking, “please tell me there is a plan and this isn’t one of those wonder around days.  I have way to many things I “planned” to get done today. (note this are scheduled in my mind and no where in black and white)

My charming husband, who knows what I need most, especially in seasons like this one, smiled and declared, “Your just hanging out with your husband and grand daughter today, Is that OK?’

OK, I can do that.  I would love to do that, How long?  

He shakes his head and smiles,  “Not that long.”  (I’m not sure what he was thinking but I probably  just extended the time, with that brilliant question!)

The remainder of Saturday and Sunday was spent having fun with my precious family.  Just being with them, going places, coming home, swimming and enjoying our home together, as a family.  Sunday was another similar day just being with great family friends, our family of choice. Just stopping the merry go round to connect.

After I released the thought of those ‘THINGS’ getting done this weekend, I soaked up the love and connect time.  We laughed, giggled, and even smelled a few flowers. We shared our thoughts and created precious memories together.

The much needed bonus,

  • I was recharged with what really matters most to me. 
  • I love what I do and I love them all more.

As we drove home Sunday night I heard once again, “Chris, about that white space, how are you using it now?”  


OK. OK.  I get it.   I now have a topic for my blog and My Empowerment Mentoring Teaching video. Thank you.

Before I started writing I decided to research the subject ‘white space’.

Like any great researcher, I Googled ‘white space’ and the following was revealed to me:

  1. White space in radio is the allocated but locally unused radio frequencies.
  2. White space in management is an area where no one is responsible
  3. White space in visual arts is the portion of the page intentionally left unmarked: Margins, gutters, space between columns, graphics, figures, objects, etc.

What intrigued me most was the following:

 “ White space should not be considered merely ‘blank’ space – it is an important element of design which enables the objects in it to exist at all. … Judicious use of white space can give a page a classic, elegant or rich appearance.”

As I reflected on the fullness of my schedule the past few weeks and how my husband lovingly lead me to smell the flowers, I realized

  1. I had indeed allocated time daily on my calendar for what mattered most yet I still had not gotten to them all. UGH !!! No more assigned and unused time.

Wisdom from my mentor Paul Martinelli, “Delegate it, Do it or Dump It.” 

  1. I had too many elements of a large project left solely on my plate which translates to ‘no one is responsible’ because one person can not get the remaining tasks all done on their own.  UGH !!!    “Delegate it, Do it or Dump It.”
  1. I had too little intentional margin in my calendar and between events.  I had created a busyness where little stood out AND the little white space that did appear on my calendar, really wasn’t white in my mind. It just was not entered into my calendar.  UGH !!!   Get real and call it what it is. It is either intentional white space or it’s not open.
  1. The moment I decided to free it up my mind for brainstorming, ideas started to flow.  It took a bit to open the creative juices because I had to really let go of the constraint of time.  The moment I decided to free up the grey space and just BE with my family my thoughts were transformed and I was filled up as well.

Week after week every business leader or any leader for that matter desires more time.  The beauty of having a great VISION for a greater future is the steady flow of ideas and opportunities.

The challenge: How do we keep from slipping into the trap of being too busy for what matters most – relationships?

Ask any person who loves what they do can probably answer that question.  “It’s easy. We get in the zone and we love operating in our area of strength.”

I humbly told myself what this leadership coach, always reminds my clients.

“There will always be more great ideas, than there are people and time to implement.

To excel and grow you must first narrow the focus.

AND remember what matters most. Relationships before results.”

Gratefully my husband knew what I needed and I let him captivate my schedule for the weekend.  I gave him permission to help me live the life I claim matters most to me. We have that agreement with each other.

I am back on track, intentionally designing even more WHITE SPACE around those most precious relationships that I want to live for a life-time in my space.