Making white space in your life

Simplicity through white space

In my last post we discussed the importance of ridding yourself of life’s clutter, to be left with only valued elements, which leads to focus and simplicity. This is about understanding what is really important to you and creating the time and space to pursue it.

Let’s look at a few key points to help you achieve this:

– Understand what‘s important to you. In our busy lives it‘s easy to create an impressive list of things we would like to do – work, home, sport, hobbies and personal pursuits such as writing a book, learning a language, restoring a car, teaching the kids to surf, recording a CD or creating a garden – a list as long as your imagination.

This can be overwhelming, with nothing achieved other than confusion.  Make a list of the things you value the most. This will provide clarity. Think about the top four or five most important things you want to pursue. Rank them and allocate time to number one; it may only be 30 minutes a day but it will bring you peace. These priorities simplify your life.

– Evaluate your time and understand how you spend your day. Record the things that you do from the moment you wake up to the moment you go to bed. You will be surprised by the amount of wasted time. This is the busyness of being.

– Take your list of daily activates and put a red line through the non essential. How much time, on average per day, do these take up? Non essential does not mean all the things you don’t enjoy doing; you still need to work, pick up the kids, pay the bills and buy groceries. It means the many tasks in a day that don’t matter at all; eliminate the unnecessary things so you focus on what’s important.

– Having removed the non essential you can now allow a few minutes between tasks, the white space of life, to relax, take a breath and consider what to do next. Hectically running from one task to another, always being behind, doesn’t allow for your best performance.

– How much time did you ‘create’ by crossing stuff off your list? Can you block it and allocate it to your priority task? Schedule it in like any appointment – make it non-negotiable – and be on time for yourself, like you would for anyone else. If you don’t schedule it, other tasks will expand to fill the space.

– To start, an easy one is to swap an hour of TV for an hour of your number one priority. I get to work at 7.00am when the commute is 15 minutes rather than an hour, so I can swap 45 minutes of sitting in traffic for quiet writing time before the work day commences.

– Do one thing at a time. This rule is very important. The basic step is to keep it simple: single-task, rather than multi-tasking, in thought and deed.  

Learn to say no. If you want to simplify your live you need to be able to say no. Other people’s priorities should not automatically supersede yours.  If you take on too much your priority tasks will fall down the list into oblivion.

Make some simple changes to your life and you will feel better, take control, make progress and achieve your goals. That’s a happier place – a white space place. Enjoy.

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2 Responses to “Making white space in your life”

  1. James Says:

    Another interesting subject and one close to my heart too. In the age of social media and endless distraction, single tasking is counter intuitive. The grey zone rules the modern world and endlessly beckons us. The key to achieving your goals is the seemingly revolutionary act of switching off and eliminating distractions. And yet not to be connected, even for the briefest moment via facebook, email, skype or mobile, threatens the very fabric of many people’s existence. Total immmersion is a hard thing to pull away from when that is all you have known. Managing time is actually more about managing yourself – time management is a misnomer, the challenge is to manage yourself, your inner world – Afterall, we can’t really manage time because it just flows endlessly – you can’t control time, only invest it. And managing yourself is about taking control of you, becoming conscious, becoming aware. At some point if you’re lucky or provoked by events you wake up and realise how little control you have on yourself, we’re really like robots – we wake up, we think the same thing, do the same thing, routines rule the chimpanzee – we deceive yourself into thinking we can change if we want to. I now realise how much multi tasking really steals from my productivity and ultimately my purpose. I read that the average fortune 500 CEO is only fully productive for 28 mins a day, but on further reading perhaps there are some exceptions! The older I get the more I realise how precious time is. Thanks for the reminder!

    • WorkLifeBankBalance Says:

      Thanks James, I think your description of the grey zone is spot on. Time feels like it has constricted because our activities continuously fill even the smallest void. Even standing in a coffee shop waiting for a sandwich to be made we are regularly checking email on the blackberry and usually running back to our desks to read the backlog of emails since the last meeting. Affirming our personal control and our activities within the flow of time, and our life, are the challenges we face. I often wonder when was the last time that a task actually had my full and undivided attention – lost in grey!

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