Ah, white space: those wonderful (and sometimes elusive!) pockets of quiet time that allow your mind to refresh, recharge, and bring you more creative ideas than ever before. Actually, the term “white space” is a design term that refers to the blank places on a page, website, or in an ad, etc. This white space not only makes the design of ads more effective, it also gives the reader’s eye and mind room to breathe and think. But you can (and probably should) make white space in your creative business, too.
Really, this just means creating time in your life to “do nothing.” (Which is not an entirely accurate definition, but you’ll see what I mean!) Think about it: how many people say that their best ideas come to them in the shower? That’s because your mind has time to just wander and think about what it wants, as you go through your mundane shower routine.
But the shower is not the only way to make white space in your creative business!
3 Ways to Make White Space in Your Creative Business
Schedule it. If you’re anything like the vast majority of creative business owners I know, you’re busy. Which means your time is precious, and sometimes scarce. So to block out time to do (what may feel like) “nothing” may feel counter intuitive. But from my own experience, I can confidently say: it works. And by “works” I mean, I frequently come up with some of my very best ideas during these times.
If you use a planner or a calendar to plan your time, I want to challenge you to set aside time this week for white space. Write down (or type in, if your planner is on a device) exactly when and how long you’ll do “nothing” (don’t worry – I’ll give you some ideas of what you can do and still consider it white space!) today.
I like to take Friday afternoons off so I have a chunk of white space at the end of my week. Others I know schedule it in daily (and actually, I do that, too.) But even if you can only squeeze in a half hour this week, consider it a win.
Prioritize it. I don’t think this will be hard, once you see how amazingly white space can work for you and your life. But until then, try to take my word for it: it really will help you grow your creative business.
So once it’s on your calendar, don’t brush it off. You may feel like you have “more important” things to do, but I promise: this is important, too.
Create It. So what will you do with this white space, anyway? Well, this may seem funny to create a list of things to do when you’re supposed to be doing nothing, but I think you’ll see, just like showering, you can do “nothing” while still doing something.
Here are some ideas and things I do as well as some suggestions from other creatives I know:
◦ Leave out the noise. When taking a shower, bath, or even driving in your car (really anything that you can do on “autopilot” so to speak) don’t listen to your favorite podcast, audiobook, or music. Just let there be silence and pay attention to your thoughts.
◦ Meditate. This is the one way I practice using white space on almost a daily basis. I actually meditate every day, but some days I used guided meditations so I hear someone’s voice the whole time (or almost the whole time.) But other days I will meditate in either complete silence or with the sound of waves/water playing in the background.
◦ Go for a walk. Just getting out of the house, office or studio and taking a quiet walk can be a wonderful way to create white space. Just be sure to leave your phone at home – or at the very least, in your pocket the whole time.
◦ Is your phone too big of a temptation? Go somewhere you can’t take it: like swimming, floating or surfing. Okay, I know that a). there are waterproof cellphones these days (and even people whose phones aren’t waterproof still sometimes take them during these activities), and b). not everyone has access to the ocean, a pool, or other places (or temperatures) to do these things.
But if you do, and the idea of being in/on the water without a phone appeals to you, try it! I love to swim, so even doing laps at the local pool is white space time for me.
◦ Sit outside. Is there a park with a beautiful view in your town? Or do you have a lovely garden in the backyard, or a front porch to sit on? Go to one of these spots (or your own version of them) and simply sit. No phone, no book, no music: just you and your thoughts.
Don’t forget to create white space in your mind, too. There are other ways to create white space in your mind besides meditation. I tend to be a worrier, so whatever I can do to calm my thoughts is helpful.
For instance, every evening at the end of my work day, I write down the three most important things I need to do the following day in my daily planner. I also write down the “little things” that I may forget if I don’t write them down. That way, I won’t wake up in the middle of the night, worrying if I will forget an important task.
In fact, having a good system for making sure ALL THE THINGS get done is one of the best ways I create white space in my mind.
I also like to allow myself to enjoy the time I get to do these “nothing” activities. They are not a waste of my time, quite the opposite, in fact! So also be sure that you aren’t making yourself feel guilty for taking this quiet time for yourself.
me — yourself that you will at least give some white space a chance. Go ahead and schedule it into you week right now and see what happens! Extraordinary ideas may not come to you the first time (or even every time, for that matter), but when you carve out that time for yourself and your creativity, good ideas will come.
And I can’t wait to hear all about how YOU make white space in your creative business!