White Space Equals Headspace: Why Less Schedule Cramming Is The Key To Prosperity

What do business networking, efficient time management, and meditation have in common? Read on and discover the enlightening answer.

A recent series of lessons in life and business had me reminiscing about a specific high-pressure aspect of my school days. I was brought back to 2AM on a Sunday night, when a seemingly incomplete high school newspaper draft was due at the printer in a mere 3 hours. We didn’t have enough content to fill the paper, and were in a collective exhausted panic. That was until Mr. Marsico, the editor’s father, came to the basement (our makeshift monthly newsroom) to check on us. This wise man listened to our predicament and then went on to explain the concept of negative white space. He convinced us that we needn’t cram content onto a page, and that perhaps that very white space, once evenly distributed, was needed to balance the look of the publication. Suddenly my predicament was over, and the same problem would be solved for future editions. And the bonus: I regained a couple of hours’ sleep!

Fast-forward to the present, and not once but twice in a week I heard this kind of white space analogy used. Then came the epiphany: When we fill every nook and cranny of our daily schedules with obligations and various “to-do’s”, we are depriving ourselves of that white space balance in our lives and careers. The result is an overwhelmed, exhausted, and stressed-out self. Sound familiar?

As conscientious, ambitious, motivated people who want to “have it all”, our reflex is to cram away. But how are we to get ahead without maximizing our time and opportunities presented? Allow me to share two wise women’s suggestions (and one of my own) on how to start seeing negative white space as positive, and to enhance your work and life success in the process.

Dorie Clark and The White Space of NetworkingDorie Clark Speaking

It’s an instinct to want to meet people with power, assuming that they’re the ones who can really assist you. But as Marketing Strategy Consultant and Personal Branding Expert Dorie Clark suggests, we should soften our focus when networking and allow for serendipity. Dorie reminds us that we shouldn’t be too targeted in whom we decide to meet, and that almost any professional can turn out to be a great connection. Play around in the white space, be curious about everyone, and always listen to assess who might be a good fit for your network. To learn more exclusive wisdom from Dorie Clark, be sure to check out DRIVEN’s October 14th Podcast Interview with the networking sage.

Laura Vanderkam SpeakingLaura Vanderkam and The White Space of Time Management

In scheduling your work day, or even your day off, it’s important to deliberately leave blocks of time open. Acclaimed Author and Time Management Expert Laura Vanderkam shared this and other wise advice at DRIVEN’s September 2015 Community Event about Putting Time On Your Side. Laura went on to inform our participants that we need to reserve this white space for creativity, without which much of our work can suffer from mediocrity. We should also keep some space open for life’s emergencies and uncontrollables, like that dear friend or family member who might phone you and say “got a minute?”. You would certainly not want to disappoint them. It was moving to learn how many people this concept resonated with after our event. Keep your eyes peeled for my in-depth article about the evening’s content.

Deborah Goldstein and The White Space of Meditation

Just this morning, as I began tying together Dorie’s and Laura’s insights, my ah-ha moment came forth from my brain, charged through my fingers, and landed on my computer screen: Reserving white space is what meditation is all about! It’s clearing the mind of clutter….a practice I’ve been taking part in all year. In honor of this realization, I promptly took a walk to “clear my head”, and came back inside with a dozen creative ideas. If you’d like to enjoy the journey with me, visit the website I use to guide me (https://www.headspace.com/).