A number of years ago, I had the opportunity to be in attendance for a talk by Juliet Funt, who is the founder and owner of WhiteSpace® at Work. She was inspiring! Recently, as I was speaking with a client about the current challenges he is facing in the workplace, Juliet’s talk came back to mind. In a completely engaging and amusing way, she made the case for whitespace in our days. What exactly is whitespace? As described by Juliet, it is a purposeful, freedom experience for the mind; an opportunity for the mind to dance, play and end up at unexpected junctures that serve us. It is setting aside time and thought for which you have no specific plans.
Our typical workdays are comprised of “reactive busyness”. This brings to mind notions of fire-fighting and problem fixing that, while giving us the illusion of getting things done, are really lots of activity without necessarily true productivity. Juliet indicated that “we have no relationship with thoughtfulness as a key to success in the workplace”. What is missing, she indicated, is whitespace. Pointing to benefits such as, developing more game changing ideas; increasing productivity, creativity and engagement; being more calm and present; connecting interpersonally; she suggests that we must “redistribute effort and excellence” to allow whitespace in our days.
To redistribute effort, consider letting go of some things. We often hold on too hard for a variety of reasons. Ask yourself: What can I let go of in my life – both personal and professional?
- What baby steps can you take to stop responding as if each email and text is urgent?
- Do you really need to attend every meeting you’re invited to?
- Can you truly get your work done if you are in back-to-back meetings all day?
To redistribute excellence, it’s time to curb your perfectionistic tendencies. Perfectionism is a real talent and we must make choices on where we will spend that talent. Ask yourself: Where could good enough, be good enough?
So, where to begin? Start small – manage your calendar to create whitespace; appreciate the forced whitespace that comes when stuck in a traffic jam. According to Juliet, if you’re aspiring to whitespace and give it value, you are ahead of 90% of others in the workplace. Be creative and design a little whitespace that works for you and watch your success grow!