What we are talking about here is going to be the use of “white space”. How to put in blank space so that you can have the flexibility to react to whatever comes up. If you have every minute of every day scheduled, you have no room to adapt to what arises.
We all know the feeling of that moment. When you have a plan in place for the day, and something not only wrecks that plan, but punches it in the face. Maybe it’s a sick child, a phone call from your boss, or just allergy season coming on.
Many things can and will disrupt our schedule. You may say there is really nothing that can be done, people get sick, clients change their end goal, and weather will decide what it had planned was the entirely wrong decision. This is very true, there is much we truly have no control of in this life, but we can control how we react and do a few things to give us the flexibility to adapt as best possible when these things happen.
But Schedules Are Good!
Let’s say your normal Saturday looks like this: You get up at 6AM, 6-8 is filled with breakfast, and getting the family to the soccer field for games until 1pm. Finally you get home at 1:30. You don’t want to waste the afternoon, so you have dutifully scheduled in homestead projects from 2-6 pm because that chicken coop won’t build itself. Dinner is from 6-7, and tomorrow is church, so everyone needs baths, snacks, diaper bags, etc. Finally everyone is in bed and asleep by 8:30. You still need to shower and get everyone’s things together for the morning so that it’s not completely hectic trying to get out the door to church. It is now 9:30. Finally you get to go to bed with the hope that no one awakens in the middle of the night crying because they fell out of bed or want a drink of water.
Things To Do
- It’s a really good thing to have your kids do organized sports and even more important to be there.
- Homesteading is awesome; it helps make you more self-sufficient and provides food for your family, fantastic!
- Projects have got to get done, that is part of the deal, and progress is good.
- Scheduling is great! We get even less done without a schedule, and making goals and putting them on a schedule helps you move forward in life.
- People appreciate when others bathe.
- Planning ahead so you aren’t rushing around on the morning of an event, whether that’s a daily or weekly event like church or school or a once a year event like a conference, helps to keep you from going insane and keeps you from being late.
These are all great things, no one would argue with that. The problem is that there is no room for things to go wrong, or for you to stop and have fun, or in our verbiage, no white space.
What happens if you get a flat tire on the way home from the soccer games? Changing the tire takes 45 minutes. Now your whole schedule is off. You either do not get all the work done you wanted on the chicken coop, or you keep the time spent on each thing the same and everything gets pushed back 45 minutes. Not only that but you are extra tired from being on the side of the freeway in the August heat, and stressed from the 18 wheelers flying by you, so you move slower and take longer. Now the kids don’t get in bed until 9:30 and you don’t get in bed until 10:30, further tiring out everyone for tomorrow and making Sunday a stressful day as well.
Maybe your 4 year old wants to play a game of candy land before bed. You can’t do it because that will push everyone’s bed times back too late and ruin tomorrow. It’s just one night you say, but you schedule every day this full and never take the time to play candy land.
Maybe it’s not that, but it’s that your spouse wants to go on a date, or friends want to get dinner, or your dad needs help, or your son wants to play catch, or you sprain your ankle. If you’re a family with food allergies, needing to have dinner can be a major scheduling problem on its own. The point is that life has lots to throw at us. Sometimes its fun opportunities, other times it’s unfortunate circumstances that come up. There will always be something to get in the way of your perfect day.
What’s the answer then?
The answer is to schedule in blank time to use for whatever you need to. Most people call it white space, but you can call it whatever you like. It will look different each day – maybe its one giant 1 hour block from 1pm-2pm. Maybe it’ a block of 15 minutes after each appointment to allow them to run a few minutes late. Maybe you factor in 45 minutes between your planned stop time on building that chicken coop and dinner. It’s good to play with the kids or finish up that door you’ve been fighting with for 2 hours!
You might be looking at this and thinking that you’ll get less done. I would argue you won’t, but even if you do, what you do get is peace of mind. It helps reduce your stress to have flexibility! You won’t have to worry about one wrench in the plans in the morning affecting the rest of the day. It means you get to pour into your kids and have fun! We need actually see them grow up, not just wake up when they are 16 and wonder where the time went and why they won’t talk to us. Sure you might have a super successful career and an awesome homestead, but I would argue that’s all wasted if your family is in shambles.
Enjoy Your New Found Flexibility
There will, of course, still be days where it is packed full. Work on being flexible with those days, too, strive to have them be few and far between, so that you can handle the stress well, and it not affect everything else. I would encourage you to take the time to factor in white space. It will only pay you back dividends in the future.