The Power of White Space

I’ve now recorded 15 episodes of the UnYielded Podcast. I was looking back over my notes from the different episodes and a theme jumped out at me: that we need white space or margin in our lives. Nearly every single person has spoken about the power that comes from having some margin or some space to breathe. When I think of white space and margin, I think about it this way: just like a well designed document cannot be crammed full of text because it completely overwhelms and exhausts the reader, our lives need some white space and margin too. Otherwise, we can become overwhelmed, exhausted and stressed out. Here are some of the benefits that were talked about by the various guests:

  • We need margin to allow creativity to take root and flourish.
  • Margin and silence allows us to hear the whisper of our calling or of what’s important to us. We often get so caught up in the busyness of our lives that we crowd out our inner voice that tries to tell us what’s important.
  • Margin helps us to make better decisions because we aren’t rushing through them; instead we are allowing the data to percolate before we act.
  • Giving ourselves white space allows us to get in tune with who we really are and what is really important to us.
  • Margin reduces our stress. Science has proven that when we take the time to breathe, really take a deep, lung-filling breath, we can lower stress and respond better to a stressful situation.
  • We are simply happier when we aren’t running from one errand or activity to another.

I’m the first to admit, this, historically, this last one has been a difficult one for me. I LOVE lists; more specifically, I LOVE crossing things off of my to-do list. I love crossing things off so much that if I vacuum the floor, but “vacuum the floor” wasn’t on my to-do list, I will add it to the list just so I can cross it off. Troubling, I know.

I recently went through an extremely busy time at work. I was teaching multiple webinars every day as well as other client work, writing articles and recording podcast episodes. I love it all. However, after about eight weeks of doing this non-stop (even on weekends), I started noticing that I was losing some of my excitement, as well as I was really starting to drag. I decided to go for a long drive out past some of my favorite lakes with absolutely no purpose. I had the windows down, the sunroof open and I had George Strait blasting on Spotify. And, I was singing at the top of my lungs (or as close to singing as I can get). You know how I felt when I got back? Better. More energized, more engaged and more grateful to be living in one of the most beautiful places on earth. Truly, what is wrong with me if I don’t take a little time each day to breathe in deeply and notice the beauty that surrounds me?

One of the songs that I listened to that day from George is “I Saw God Today,” which is about a man seeing the wonder all around him — when he takes the time to notice. It’s not the first time that I’ve heard this song, but it served as a reminder to me that I need to take the time to simply breathe and to be and to notice — not always do.