‘Space is the breath of art.’ ~Frank Lloyd Wright
Designers use the term ‘white space’ to describe the area on a page, in a book, on an advertisement, or a website design, that is empty. It doesn’t have to be white, but it is blank and unmarked. You probably don’t notice white space. But you definitely notice if it’s not there. If there is too much crammed onto a page, you feel stressed when reading it. A busy page is difficult to read. It is not comfortable to look at.
White space is an important aspect to any beautiful design. It balances the different components, it helps you focus your visual attention. It makes looking at things pleasurable.
We can adopt the principles of white space in the design of your life too.
Where is the white space in your life? It is the time where you let yourself rest and recharge. Time to let your mind wander. A time that contrasts with the rest of your life. Time to feed your soul. Time to do exactly what you need. Time to breathe.
It is tempting to constantly keep trying to cram more into your day. To keep striving toward achievement, which requires filling your time with countless tasks. The hours are finite, but you try to do more in the time you have. You get a dopamine rush from crossing things off your list, but as the day goes on your energy wanes. When you have too much going on, your brain gets overwhelmed, and you start to get less productive. You can be so busy you forget what you are trying to achieve.
Creativity comes to you in moments of space in your life. When your mind is idle and you give it the freedom to wander. New ideas come, new ways of looking at things, solutions to problems you were stuck on.
Clarity comes too. When things are muddled in the busyness of life, you see them better with distance and space. Things make sense more. You see things you had missed. You can be more objective about yourself and your life. You feel more certain about what needs to be done, and see the path more clearly.
Magic happens when you give yourself space.
It is how you grow and change.
It is why you start to see your life clearly while on vacation. Freed from the busyness of your ordinary life, you start to think differently, and see things from a different perspective.
It is why meditation resets your brain, your mood and your perspective so effectively. Just 15 minutes of calm can change the way you think for rest of the day.
Many people exercise while listening to music or podcasts. But turn it off every once in awhile. Just walk in silence. Let your mind wander. See what different ideas comes up.
Any repetitive exercise is good for this. Swimming lengths is ideal, your body is occupied in a repetitive, coordinated motion. The sounds of a pool are like white noise. Your mind is free to wander. Walking or running on an easy path. It is harder when you have to be navigating, looking for obstacles, scanning for traffic. If you are following a path in a park, your mind can rest.
So how to get white space in your day?
Don’t overfill your schedule, leave some gaps. Don’t put too much on today’s to-do list. Put your device down, any time spent looking at your phone could be time spent resting your mind. Schedule vacations, weekends away. Don’t fill all your leisure time with other people, do some things alone. Find a quiet hobby, like paddle boarding, to do by yourself, in silence. Lie in a hammock ,let your mind wander. Sit on a park bench at lunchtime and don’t do anything for a bit.
Give it a try, there is nothing to lose.