Finding Work-Life Balance Through Added White Space

You’ve got a lot on your plate, managing work, family, home and a social life. You’re often left with little time or energy to take care of YOU. Finding balance between work and personal life is challenging enough, but fueling your passion is also important and needs to be prioritized. In today’s society, there’s so much pressure to be overly-productive and successful. Don’t get me wrong, goals are important too, but too many people say they feel guilty trying to allocate time to do the things they love! There is a balance between work and personal life. Here’s how I create a work-life balance that includes me. It’s all about adding a little white space;)

It seems work-life balance is called the ”holy grail of the 21st century.” In bookstores, the self-help section is filled with books devoted to the topic, yet ironically enough, too many of us just can’t find the time to sit down and read them.

What Is White Space?

Graphic designers and layout artists will tell you that white space is what makes it possible for us to register text on a printed page or a computer screen. White space gives order, context, and emphasis to what matters. It separates ideas and things.

It’s sometimes mistaken as empty or dead space… a waste of screen real estate even. But that white space is one of the most valuable pieces of your design. White space is the space between columns, in between lines of text or graphics. It allows for visual breathing room and creates balance in your work. What if it can do the same in your life!

White space makes things easy to understand and that’s why I’m using it as this analogy. It makes it possible for the contents of a page or of a life to be arranged in a simple and appealing way. It requites and allows artful choice. Without it, everything seems equally urgent, similarly important. Without white space, there’s no separation.

Because it is empty, it is tempting to fill white space when the pressure is on. If you’ve ever tried to read an email that isn’t broken up into short paragraphs, you know what happens when too much content squeezes out the white space. It is hard to track meaning, hard to isolate key points. It’s also hard to know how to respond and understand the point of the message.

Too Busy To Take Care Of Yourself?

The same thing happens when there is not enough white space in our lives. When we steal time from the white space to make another meeting, start another project, make another call, we end up distracted, confused, and reactive. Depending on our individual styles, we may get irritable, frustrated, bossy, or simply forgetful. None of which saves time, makes money, or engenders effective collaboration. In an ironic turnabout, we may start saying “no” to things we’d like to say “yes” to and vice versa. Play feels like work, work loses its charm, work life balance quits us.

However, if we expand or maintain white space during these challenges, we will often notice that unexpected opportunities and solutions pop up. When a problem is too big or complex to be solved with available resources, we have to go to another level to solve it. White space helps us find that other level and bring work life balance back, when pushing harder and moving faster won’t work. 

Feel Guilty Taking Time For Myself

I’m a very type A personality. I enjoy working hard and could easily fill 15 hours a day focusing on work-related projects. So, finding balance isn’t easy but I’m committing to creating some white space for the next few weeks. I do feel guilty when I focus on myself and I know that has to change. So I’m getting out this weekend, taking time for music and reading, and making myself available for an afternoon nap or two. This is not self-indulgence. It’s not even self-care. It’s cultivating the white space that I need in order to maintain work life balance, show up, serve, and prosper in every aspect of my life and work.

If there is not enough white space in your life to sustain work life balance, or if, like me, you need a little more white space, take some time to revise your commitments and declare a moratorium on promises for a few days. If you are a manager, ask yourself how you can support your people in having the white space they need. It doesn’t have to be huge; you can accomplish it by simply keeping white space in mind as you assign tasks, evaluate performance, and manage the context and mood of your team members.

White Space Allows You To See What’s Important

Caring for white space can allow what’s really important to surface, while giving you some room to breath and stay balanced. It also allows you to respond more effectively in other areas of your life. White space is the key to a well balanced life. You’ll feel less-stressed and probably more productive on the job, ready to take on new goals with a fresh mind and body. I challenge you to add a little white space soon!

Comments

  1. Great post! Unfortunately though, white space is like eating healthy and working out… it’s something we should do, we know we should, but don’t….

  2. I used to struggle with finding a balance, but I feel as though I have been able to carve out enough work time in the day to accomplish everything I need to – yet also have time for my family and focus on them! Social media makes it a bit more challenging, but I do feel pretty balanced which is nice.

  3. I’m finally getting better at creating a balance between work and family, especially as the kids get older and are out doing more activities or events. There are days when it is a huge struggle compared to other days.

  4. I like the idea of white space as a buffer in finding work life balance. Without it, you get mental clutter and accrued stress, which doesn’t help with achieving life goals. Nice food for thought!

  5. great post! i can feel many of us are stressing about managing everything going on in our lives, and tend to forget about ourselves or should be a bit “selfish” and take more “me-time”.

    xx
    lau
    malibluemymind

  6. I’ve come to know the term “white space “as a term that was derived from graphic design or interior design. I like how you make the contrast with the analogy between white space in a strictly design perspective to white space in a life style perspective.

  7. “White space gives order, context, and emphasis to what matters” This makes perfect sense and this is what I focus on my white space for – emphasizing what I want my readers to focus on. This is a helpful article.

  8. White space works for photos as well. I’m loving the idea of letting the other things be seen as well.

  9. It’s easy to get all consumed with work. At the end of the day though, it’s important, but not so important that it should eclipse the most important things (faith/family/actually living life).

  10. White space is something I think that can be applied to many aspects of life! I remember learning about the use of this in art and drawing as well! (But I can think of some life friendly metaphors too!)

  11. Oh I agree, I love how your define rest with another words.. 12 hours or more of work is so exhausting. We all need this white space.

  12. This is great and I totally agree! If you don’t make time for rest, relaxation and joy to balance out work and other stressors pretty soon your body will force you to by getting sick!

    • True story! I just recovered from MONO!!! Super type A personality I tried to work through it the best I could, obviously, but it definitely forced me to do nothing for a few days… I’m still making up for it lol

  13. I’m literally going through this right now. I’ve been working at my full-time job for 14 hours a day and blog at night. I need to take a break but I feel bad when I do, like I’m not doing enough! You’re right, we all deserve me time now and again!

  14. I love this term! I am a photographer and we have negative space …. I love the reflection behind white space and the amount.

  15. I guess I’m one of the few lucky ones? For a long time now, I’ve know the most important thing for me is… me 🙂 I focus on my own goals and well-being a do as little work as possible! Ha

What do you think? Let me know below:)