Creating White Space (Guest Post)

Open day planner with red ribbon marker and fountain pen.
Image by Sophie Janotta from Pixabay

Creating White Space

by Steph Beth Nickel

How do you feel when you open a book and see a solid page of text with virtually no white space?

More importantly…

How do you feel when you open your schedule and see virtually no white space?

Do you feel overwhelmed just thinking about it?

What can you do to overcome the overwhelm and avoid burnout?

Here are eight suggestions:

  1. As a Christian, prayer is always the best place to begin.
  2. Divide your To-Do List into three categories. The three I use are Yes!, Maybe, and Would Be Nice. Be careful how many things you list in your Yes! column. I would highly recommend adding Downtime (in ink) to your Yes! column every day. Go for a walk. Read a book. Listen to a podcast. Don’t let things you’ve always wanted to do end up in the Would Be Nice column week after week.
  3. Take a look at your Procrastination List. Offload any of the responsibilities you can’t realistically accomplish in the near future. Add (and complete) at least one remaining item to each week’s schedule until the list is cleared. When I cross something off my Procrastination List, it feels as rewarding as crossing ten things off my everyday list and energizes me to get back to the day-to-day.
  4. When creating your To-Do List, be honest about your strengths and weaknesses. For example, if you have the luxury of creating your own schedule and you have more energy in the morning, complete the tasks that require extra energy and brain power before lunch whenever possible.
  5. Remember that no is not a bad word. We’ve all been in situations when someone asked us to do something that would only take an hour or two, but it felt like the proverbial straw that would break the camel’s back. It’s okay to decline. I know this is true, but I’m still learning to apply said truth.
  6. When asked to take on a responsibility that you would really like to accept, ask yourself what you can remove from your schedule instead of trying to shoehorn in the new task.
  7. Make use of the Auto Responder on your email and let people know that you will be incommunicado when you’re on vacation. Resist the temptation to check in. True Confession: While I love making IRL (in real life) connections, my phone has become this extravert’s connection to the outside world, and I have to be extremely disciplined when it comes to setting it aside.
  8. As you get older, it will likely become evident that you can’t accomplish everything you dream of. While this can be discouraging, it can also help us determine our highest priorities and create a To-Do List that mainly includes those things we would regret not accomplishing. For example, those dishes really can wait until morning. Playing a game with your family, meeting an old friend for coffee, or sitting down to work on that book you want to publish are likely more important.

Create white space in your schedule—and guard it diligently.

Take it from someone who, for the most part, loves to spin “all the plates”…

Sometimes it’s best to tuck the majority of those plates in the cupboard—at least for now.

Photo credit: Jaime Mellor Photography

Steph Beth Nickel is a freelance editor and writer and an author. If you would like more information about her services, you can contact her at

You’re invited to visit her website:

You can join her Editing Tips Facebook group here:

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