What It Is and Why It's Critical
WhiteSpace is the strategic pause taken between activities. The term came from literally looking at the white space on the calendar and realizing that on the days where there was more literal white space, people were more effective and projects moved faster. It can be used in tiny sips as small as 10 seconds or in longer stretches, and these thoughtful pauses laced through the busyness of the workday are the oxygen that allows everything else to catch fire.
Executives, managers and front-line folks can learn to use WhiteSpace recuperatively (to reboot their taxed minds) and constructively (to set aside the minutiae of the day and focus on big thoughts about innovation, strategy and execution).
Examples of Cultural WhiteSpace include:
- Reacting to challenges or obstacles by thinking before acting
- Setting office pace and cadence to avoid burnout and creative decline
- Controlling technology so it does not eclipse high-value action
Examples of Tactical WhiteSpace include:
- Scheduling time between meetings to prepare and/or reflect
- Controlling data and dashboards to inform without overwhelming
- Creating specifically designated time for creativity and innovation
WhiteSpace From Meetings
Find creative ways to minimize meeting time. If you are an invitee, be brave and vocal about curtailing tangents. As a leader, you should mostly attend meetings to share information, make a decision, advise or inspire. If you're simply making an appearance, open the meeting and then say, "And now I'm going to leave you in the capable hands of...".
WhiteSpace and Decks
Never-ending editing of your presentation deck can be a colossal time waster. Remember to make slides as brief, clean and minimalistic as possible. Ask yourself, "Do I need a deck at all? If yes — how short can it be? How few revisions will still accomplish my goal? What portions of this deck could be dropped in favor of a verbal component?"
WhiteSpace in the Interpersonal
We are all wonderful actors. We pretend to listen and to be attentive in meetings, sales presentations, conversations and relationships. But as distractions flood our thoughts, others may notice our mental absence. Take 5 to 15 seconds of WhiteSpace before every important meeting, phone call or conversation to focus on the task, situation and people at hand.