In a former life, my job was creating and testing recipes in the Borden Test Kitchen. I got paid to play with food! It was an awesome job in many ways!
One day, I was testing recipe variations for the Magic Cookie Bar recipe made with Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk. I had seven variations to test that day and wanted to complete them all. I had an assembly line going that required me to move efficiently from one step to the next in a tight sequence to reach my goal of seven new recipe variations. There was no margin for error and no possibility to modify the ideas or process if I was to get it done in the time allotted. Each test I did had to turn out just right for me to reach my goal.
My Old Definition of Productivity
For many years, this was my definition of productivity. Success was measured by how much output I had for the day. How much did I need to do today? Can I crank out one more widget (batch of cookie bars) before the whistle blows?
If your goal is cranking out cookie bars, widgets, hamburgers or orders, that’s great. But what if we need to solve a problem or create something new? To obtain the outcome of creative problem solving, we require a critical component that’s outside my outdated definition of productivity.
The Critical Component for Productivity
This critical component? White Space. The concept of White Space comes from publishing and graphic design. It is also referred to as negative space. It’s the space between sentences and paragraphs, as well as the margins. It serves two purposes; it shows you where to focus and allows your eye (and your brain) to rest.
This metaphor illustrates the critical need for white space in our lives. White space, sometimes referred to as margin, provides time for focus, for innovation, for new ideas to rise to the surface of our conscious mind. It provides a break between the busy, output focused periods of our day, week and season.
While we use the word break for this time, we are not sleeping or “doing nothing” when in white space. White space can be:
- a walk to clear your mind
- a conversation with a friend
- eating lunch away from your desk
- walking down the hall to take something to a colleague
- taking a moment to reflect before stepping into a meeting
- scheduling time to review your life and ponder what’s next
The Value of White Space
The demands on your time are many. Setting priorities puts guardrails on how much you can do in any period of time. Along with guardrails, establishing a pattern of white space within your productive workday will assure that you’re as productive as possible. You’ll have time for the deep work that moves your projects forward as well as the creativity to do your best work.
White space is critical for rhythms of productivity. White space allows you to rediscover your creative mojo. Your creative mojo, in turn, points the way to your biggest impact.
Where do you need to incorporate more white space into your life?
©Rhonda Peterson 2018, All Rights Reserved