Do you need white space?

How many items do you have on your to-do list? How about goals? Do you have more than a few that you’d like to achieve? If you’re looking to simplify your life, likely that’s because your list is filled to the brim with goals, interests, activities, passions, people, and work.

It gets especially sticky taking action and completing anything on your master project list after you become a parent.

Since my daughter was born almost four years ago, I’ve had to adjust and reframe how I reach and set big goals in my life. It used to be so easy! But now, with a toddler in tow, a job managing someone else’s online business, a husband who needs my attention, too, writing for my own blog, writing my first book, and the myriad mommy duties, I need time and space to actually reach all those goals—and finish anything.

If your life is bursting at the seams, like mine, then you might like to know these three things I’ve learned to make space in your life, so you can actually get down to the business of getting things done.

1. You’re not lazy. You just need space.

If you’re anything like me, you’ve got lots of things you want to do. But life also happens, work tires you out, you just want lean back, take a break… and do nothing. Then what happens? You’re at the end of your week or weekend, and you regret not doing what you wanted to do.

Laziness isn’t your problem—setting priorities is.

Ask yourself if you’ve been putting something off because, as you say, you may actually be lazy. Then, decide if the issue is whether it’s actually a priority. You’ll feel empowered when you actually say it out loud. Either it is a priority, or it isn’t. You decide. Once you make this decision, you’ll feel a burst of energy.

2. Make some space to get some space.

I know, this kind of sounds like the chicken and the egg scenario, but hear me out. If you need space in one area of your life, look for easy ways to clear the clutter in another area.

Recently, someone close to me expressed her emotional stress over a relationship. She then spent the weekend cleaning out the closets in her house. By the end of the weekend, she could see the relationship more clearly, and her initial stress dissipated.

Since the closets posed no emotional stress to her, she was able to work on that space, and in some odd way, it cleared just that bit of mental room to re-evaluate what was going on in her relationship.

Do you have an area of your life that’s overwhelming you? Turn your attention to an area that doesn’t completely stress you out—and clean it up. Focusing on an area that gives you no stress, no worry, and no emotional overwhelm is often a secret back door to clearing the extra room in your life you need.

Try it. Is your body or weight making you depressed and obsessed with the scale? Spend the weekend cleaning up your receipts and paperwork, or fill your weekend with activities for you and your family. Money stressing you out? Go for a long run or hike.

3. Lose the Cs.

Photo by Koalazy Monkey

Create a master project list—dump everything from your brain onto a piece of paper. Mark the most important items with an A, the you-want-to-do-them-but-not-now with a B, and the ones you’ve been holding onto but really don’t need to do at all with C.

Cross off the Cs. Find a way to completely lose them from your list.

Even if you are never planning to do them, letting them sit on your list is weighing you down and taking up space. Just cross them off.

When you intentionally make more white space in your life, you’ll notice more mental clarity, more energy, and an increased sense of well-being.

Note from Tsh: Anne wants to give ten Simple Mom readers a copy of her new e-book, The White Space Solution! To enter the giveaway, simply leave any comment on this post. The giveaway will end Tuesday evening (tomorrow), October 25. I hope you win!

This giveaway is now closed. Check back soon for the winners!

top photo source

Anne is a mom, project manager for LKR and the author the e-book, The White Space Solution: Make Room For Your Best Life & Work.

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  1. Thank you for these ideas…
    inspiring and great reminders.

  2. Love this info. Thanks for the giveaway!

  3. Ann Marie Robalik says:

    Yes I do need some white space!!!! I am in the midst of making space to gain some spa e right now in my home! It is like I read this awhile ago as it really spoke to my heart! Thanks!!!!

  4. These are great suggestions! I like the idea of going for a run/hike to clear your head when stressed about money issues. I think I need to try this!

  5. Some days I feel like I’m drowning in my to-do’s…and so does my hubby. We both desperately need white space and know that, but have been spinning our wheels trying to figure out how to stop the crazy cycle. Anne’s ideas are very helpful!

    • Glad you enjoyed the tips. What I find so great about your comment is that you and your husband seem to be in it together. Another fun little white space maker… take a walk holding hands…and leave your cell phone at home.

  6. Thank you for this post! Blogs like this are helping me so much with stage of life I’m currently in. (working part-time, mothering two toddlers full-time, husband in ministry…) love the idea of eliminating guilt-inducers from my to do list!

  7. I love this post. What a great concept. Let’ see if it works for me.

  8. I tend to go back and forth whether it’s a good idea to have a list because if I don’t do much on it, I feel down. I like the ABC method.

  9. I need white space.

  10. Thanks for the great article. I am a list maker and feel terrible when I don’t get everything crossed off by the end of the day. I need to improve my prioritizing skills and let go of the “c”s.

  11. Adelle F. says:

    I think I need to learn to cross off the C’s, for sure!

  12. O man; you will be RIGHT in my area, and I cannot see you and the other speakers! It is sold out. 🙁

  13. I am a fairly new stay-at-home mom who is used to a routine, organzied office, and a housekeeper. I gave all of that up for a wonderful new job of taking care of a very busy 16 month old boy. With all of that said, I still crave a routine, organization, and on most days my housekeeper. Thanks for all the tips. When I am feeling overwhelmed about some issue, just picking up my house and making sure the “clutter” is not visable for at least a nap, I always feel like I can manage anything else going on in my life.

  14. Wow, I’m so glad I found this blog! I’m new to reading blogs, and the ones I’ve been lucky enough to find are so refreshingly relevant, topical and….real! Even the little subtleties of your daily problems get touched on, I guess because there’s not as much filtering going on (i.e., publishers?) Anyway, yours Tsh is definitely a wonderful find, thank you for creating it. And yes, this is another great post. I like best the insight that maybe I’m not as lazy as I think? Correcting my focus and setting my priorities may re-energize me? I can feel proud of what I did get done? Thank you Anne and Tsh!

  15. I loved this post…it was SO relevant to me right now! Don’t know if I’m brave enough to completely cross off those “c” things, though!

  16. Keeping some white space is one of the reasons I have been trying to knock out some always lingering projects all the way to completion. Too many almost done things crowd my mind.

  17. Kim White says:

    I have found that clearing one area has the effect of “opening” others – I’d love to see more suggestions and aha moments! Thanks.

  18. Lea Stormhammer says:

    I think I need some white space…sheesh.

    Thanks for this post – I needed it today!

  19. Anne, your article is confirming. I have found that when I do something “mindless”, I’m able to think about something that has been weighing me down. Thank you for that and also for clarifying “laziness” and “priority”…very good. Now I think I can go forward a few more steps. 🙂 I’m sure that your e-book is full of no-nonsense advice. Wouldn’t mind a copy!

  20. Catherine says:

    love this post. thanks!

  21. what helpful ideas!

  22. I love the idea that if you need space to solve one problem, tackle another first. As soon as I read it, I realized it’s 100% true, and often I do find energy and space by doing something different- I’ve just never used it as a strategy specifically. Thank you for the insight!

  23. this is an awesome idea and a great way to clear the ever-busy mind, especially with being a parent to a toddler. It’s tough trying to find the time for every thing in one day. Thank you for sharing this!

  24. stephanie says:

    how simple yet profound – clear out space in one area to make room in another, do the opposite of what is stressing you out for clarity. genius.

  25. Love these uplifting thoughts…proactive instead of self-critical. Would love to read more!

  26. MsNetters says:

    Weekly to-do list triage has saved my sanity. 🙂

  27. I could use some white space! Great ideas!

  28. Thank you for this post! It’s just what I needed right now. Time to stop beating myself up for “being lazy” and start setting my priorities! I feel a little refreshed and renewed and ready to tackle something – thank you!

  29. This is exactly what I needed to read at this point in my life. I have been off on sick leave due to a concussion. There are not too many I can do right now but this list is a perfect way for me to get prepared for when I’m feeling better.

  30. Great thoughts. I love the idea that clearing space in one area of your life makes other areas clearer, too. Very cool.

  31. GREAT ideas! I am currently working on enlarging the “white spaces” And have still a lot of room to go! I have eliminated some excess busy-work outside the home, but still have so much inside to do!

  32. What an awesome idea! I may find my way out of my major brain fog yet.

  33. What a concept! I too thought that if I didn’t make it through the list I was “lazy”. I know it isn’t true but it’s a feeling I let come alive. I sometimes let the list rule me and have way too many C’s on the list, but they are marked with an A.

    It’s funny how striking off the to do list can make one feel they are important. Instead it can also make one feel inadequate. Thank you again for helping me keep things in perspective.

    I am not defined by my to do list.

  34. This is exactly what I need. My mental to-do list gets overwhelming. I’d love to read the book!

  35. You have no idea how much I needed to hear this. Usually I’m very good at saying “no” and giving myself the time and space to do the important things, but lately there are so many parts of myself that are screaming for attention. Thanks for the reminder that I don’t need to do everything at once to be fulfilled.

  36. oooh I hope I win!

  37. This sounds like a great book!

  38. I’ve been telling myself lately that I have a problem with laziness. It was like a light bulb turning on over my head when I read “laziness isn’t your problem – setting priorities is.” Thank you! 🙂

  39. I used to clear things out to make more space for other stuff. Now I have learned to clear out space for the sake of having white space, in various areas of my life.
    Great post!

  40. Love the title of this book and would love to read the whole thing!

  41. Megan Southerland says:

    I have definitely been blessed by creating white space at my home. What a relief in stress it is! ESPECIALLY with 4 growing boys at home and a pack-rat for a husband!! lol

  42. Love the “lose the C’s” idea:)!!!

  43. This is so great – thank you for sharing. I have found that decluttering my personal space is a great way of decluttering my mind. Would love to read your book!

  44. Making space has become my new mission. Thanks for the tips.
    I can’t wait to read the book!

  45. Thanks for the tips, I am ALL for mental de-cluttering.

  46. What a great post–very relevant!! I especially liked the part about “crossing off the Cs.” Amen, sister!

  47. Alison Minor says:

    Having the time (or I suppose making it a priority is a better way to put it) to clear out a cluttered space in my home always leaves me feeling better emotionally. Extra stuff and clutter are not only unsettling to look at, but also add stress to other areas of your life. O love the example of the woman finding some extra clarity in her relationship as a result of a good purge and clean session.

  48. Thanks for the insight. I’ve almost given up making lists because everything on them feels like an “A”. So I’m going to divide my A’s up into more manageable chunks!

  49. This is the most profound little bit of info that I have read in a while. I am so busy these days I cannot even think straight. I truly hope that I can read more of this in your new e-book. Thanks for the opportunity to try and win.

  50. Thanks for the great idea of crossing off the Cs. I am definitely going to do this.

  51. Great post! I am a big fan of white spaces, I even let children really create in an open white drawing space. Amazing experience!

  52. We make time for what we value. You just explained how to make that statement kinetic in a simple way. Thank you! Would love to learn more through your book.

  53. My old roommate used to clean whenever she was stressed out and I never understood it until I tried it one day. Wonderful advice, as usual!

  54. Great post! I’ll have to do some physical decluttering soon.

  55. This article really made me think how much I keep C’s on my mind and they keep getting in the way of other things that need to be done.

  56. Christine says:

    Thanks for a refreshing post in what has been an emotionally and mentally cluttered day! I had been stressed about everything I wasn’t getting done today, sat down to check my email, and read your post. I think I’m just going to clear up one area in my office and put on some music I’ll enjoy in the process! Thanks for the permission to just clean up one thing and stop stressing! I appreciate the encouragement!

  57. Great advice.

  58. 100 years ago when I was an Algebra tutor in College, I would actually encourage the people I tutored not to overload their brain by trying to get it all done – especially when they just couldn’t seem to grasp whatever concept they were trying to learn. I would tell them to walk away from it, close the book, go clean the toilet, go make dinner, go do something else for a while and then come back to it. Oddly enough, I never thought to implement this same concept when it came to my everyday hectic life. Thank you so much for this post and the chance to win what promises to be a great ebook!

  59. This article was exactly what I needed to find in my inbox today! I’ve been feelin overwhelmed and therefore a little down about the fact that I can’t seem to zero in on any of my goals, even ones that are so important to me. Work, baby, marriage, and endless housework have me sometimes just vegged out on the couch wondering why I can’t accomplish anything. Interestingly, I’ve been putting time into organizing little spaces of my house and it’s helped my attitude to lift and feel more motivated! So it was so interesting to see that as a way to “clear some space to make some space.”
    Thanks so much for this post!

  60. I have never thought about it like that. I love the feeling cleaning the clutter out of my life gives me, I just did not realise that as I cleaned the physical clutter, the mental clutter was going to. Thank you for pointing it out. Hubby and I have made some major decisions which will change the direction of our lives. For me, the starting point is to clear the physcial and mental clutter.

  61. Thank you for a very informative post. That is just what I need to do and your post made me realize it.

  62. Wow, I do have a lot of “C” level stuff on my to-do list. I think I just needed to give myself permission to forget about them. Thanks for the tips–I feel more relaxed already! 🙂

  63. You are 100% right about cleaning up an area to make you feel better about a different one. A few months ago I was feeling negative about work, which led to being less motivated in life/exercise, which led to feeling bad about body image. So the first thing I changed was adding a morning and evening routine to my day, then I added exercise in. I felt healthier adding exercise, and my self image boosted! Because those things have been going better, I no longer feel as negative about work. Go figure.

  64. Yes, I need white space! I’ve always looked at it as breathing room. I need enough room in my life to just breathe once in a while.

  65. This is so true and so timely!

    In the last few days I believe I’ve finally become willing to “give up the C’s”. Not because I suddenly realized the clutter (mental and tangible) was a problem: I’ve agonized over it for years.

    But now I want something fiercely, and if I want space for it and the other important parts of my life, I have to get ruthless with the unimportant. To take a machete to the shoulds and shouldn’ts, the maybes, and the what-ifs that kept me stuck and running in place for too long. Because not making the choice to focus has stood between me and life — and none of these moments will come a second time.

    Please hold a good thought for me as I launch into taking back my life! 🙂

  66. First – I absolutely love that blue door in the expanse of white wall! And these three simple ideas are incredible…I have been thinking about “space” for a while, how to explain it, create it, own it…

    I would love to see what the book says as well!

  67. Wendy Swartz says:

    Cross off the Cs. I’m going to try it. Thoroughly enjoyed reading this post today, so relevant. Thanks!

  68. What an interesting idea, white space. I’d love to read more about it!

  69. i would love a copy!


  70. I realize how helpful it is to do your second suggestion. I’ve been overwhelmed with things I’ve needed to do, but then I tackled the refrigerator for a badly needed cleaning and I feel more able to tackle the job of figuring out my priorities!

  71. Hanna DeMaster says:

    I talked about this very topic with a life coach. Creating that “white space” in your schedule where you have nothing else planned so that you can use it HOWEVER YOU WANT – just knowing that it’s there and that it is YOURS is helpful.

  72. I totally find that clearing out the physical junk and tidying up makes me feel less flustered when things get on top of me. Great post!

  73. Julie Breshears says:

    This message has perfect timing for me. It has definitely given me more perspective! Thank you for sharing!

  74. Love the idea of cleaning up a space to clean up another space!

  75. I would love to win! Thanks!

  76. Thanks for this – can’t wait to categorize and cross off those c’s! As a foster carer of 3 boys between 4m & 4y, one with ASD, there is precious little white space – more like a lot of white noise! Sometime I just don’t want to be the most organized and effiicient mother, I just want to roll around on the tramp with the boys, eat pancakes for dinner and do silly dances. Crossing off the c’s is bound to help me get more time for that – yeah?

  77. maryanstro says:

    I would love a little more white space. The only way I get it is by saying “no” to really good things. Today was a gorgeous day so I let my kids slack and I did too. I feel a tinge of guilt but I am glad to have enjoyed the weather and my kids.

  78. Love this post! This summer I finally stepped back from some volunteer positions at church and I feel like I’ve created some more space in my life!

  79. This sounds like a book I could use right now.

  80. off to make my list…

  81. Lately I feel really overwhelmed with my long to-do lists. I never seem to accomplish most of the tasks! Help!!!

  82. Lose the C’s…never thought of that!! Amazing advice! Thank you!

  83. Great to read after a crazy overwhelming day!

  84. Elizabeth says:

    This sounds like just what I need to do! Just started reading your book today Tsh! Organized Simplicity that is. Excited about simplifying and getting some much needed head space! Yay! Would love to read Anne’s book too.

  85. I sometimes feel like the chaos in my home (ie clutter) is a reflection of the inner chaos I feel. I have been slowly working on decluttering and it is such a great feeling to see emptiness where clutter once was. I do feel like I can breathe easier when I am not surrounded by a mess.

  86. I really need some white space right now! We just added our second child. I am a teacher to 19 wonderful students.I am a wife to a amazing husband. All of these things pull me in many directions.

  87. Great post! I really liked the idea of organizing a to-do-list with A, B, and C and then crossing off the C’s. I’ve never thought of creating a list that way. Thanks for posting!!

  88. I definitely need white space in my life! Thanks for the give-a-way!

  89. Maria Makes Muffins says:

    I would love to win this book. I have too many interests and definitely not enough time!

  90. Angie Dupree says:

    Very encouraging to hear that I’m probably not lazy. This book sounds like a great help for someone like me!

  91. Wow, this makes perfect sense, and I think is exactly what I’ve been groping for, without knowing quite what it is. Thank you!

  92. This post resonated with me as well. I’d love to win a copy so I can think more about this concept… Or else I’ll probably never make room in my life to do it!!

  93. Great thoughts. I love white space … I need to re work my to do list and paint all my walls white! 😉

  94. Great point. Concentrating on the important things shortens the list and makes you feel more accomplished.

  95. I needed to hear this! I have six month old daughter and I’m returning to work next week. I am feeling overwhelmed with everything I thought I wanted to get done before then, and this post helped me think about what’s important. I’m keeping it handy so I can refer to it as I need to.

  96. As a quilter I embrace the white spaces. So often quilts are too busy and the blocks seem to be screaming out for space.
    Thanks for the clarity that cleaning is an acceptable way to process an issue.

  97. Have recently cut a part time job from 3 days a week to 1 morning in an effort to get some things done…some really big projects that I am not looking forward to, but know I will be glad to have accomplished (moving from the B to th A list I guess) but yes yes yes there are so many little junky things that I say I am going to get to…of no consequence really…and I think that writing them out, speaking out that they are not a priority and crossing them off would be a great concrete way to exit them from my life…and make room for the truly impactful things that need doing…this was a timely word…thank you.:-)

  98. The idea of actually finishing something sounds wonderful! Sounds like a great book.

  99. I like the idea of working on something that doesn’t stress me out so that I have other space to deal with those tasks that are hanging over my head. I need to try this in my own life.

  100. That’s great advice! I’d love to hear more!