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!