Power of White Space

Like most people, when I travel I return to work with an inbox that is overflowing. I used to fret about it until I hit on the ingenious idea of creating some white space on my calendar the first day I’m back in the office.

I block the entire morning so that I can catch up with teammates and review my email. I quickly delete anything that is only for informational purposes. I note which items will require a thoughtful response or research and mark time on my calendar for each of those. The remaining items I can usually respond to within a few hours and that what’s I do.

After lunch, I focus on the most pressing items but now I’m no longer feeling anxious because there are 400 unread emails in my inbox.

I also try to create white space following a meeting. Back-to-back meetings result in my inability to address any issues that may have arisen from the meeting. I try to keep 30 minutes between meetings (although I’m probably only successful about 25 percent of the time). This unscheduled time enables me to follow-up immediately on action items and reach out to those with whom I need to follow-up.

Mike Myatt wrote in Forbes that “Leaders need white space to respond to unexpected opportunities and issues.”

Creating the white space at work is critical to my professional success. I’ve learned to do the same with my personal calendar.

I play volleyball, belong to a book club and volunteer but if they all fall in the same week, I can become quite irritable because, again, there is no white space. I need that white space to keep up with correspondence, bills and frankly, just have some quiet time.

Not filling every minute of your calendar creates the space needed to deliver on promises and commitments.

Do you have enough white space in your life?

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