A few months ago I was changing the sheets on my children’s beds while listening to a Christian radio station. A man being interviewed started talking about needing “white space” in his life. He described white space as being like a blank sheet of paper or the blank space between commitments on a calendar. In a nutshell, time to rest, relax, or just be refreshed in the presence of God. I muttered to myself, “I sure could use some white space about now.”. I was feeling completely overwhelmed by sports schedules, end of the school year events, responsibilities at home….I could go on, but I know you can relate to what I’m talking about. So naturally the next couple of questions that popped into my head were, “How can I get white space? What can I change or do to get it?”. I couldn’t come up with anything until a few days later when I was thinking to myself again. You see, when you’re home alone during most of the day, you start thinking to yourself. A lot. But hey, I’ve got introverted tendencies so I’m ok with that.
So, where was I? Oh yes, I was thinking a few days later about my family’s finances. God was really blessing us for being better stewards and we were starting to experience more and more freedom from debt. Then it struck me – our finances are better because we have been budgeting well. We have been “telling” every dollar where to go. I began to wonder… if that principle was true in our finances, could it also be true with our time? If I told every minute where it should be spent, would I experience more freedom in my schedule? I had to give it a try!
I opened my phone calendar and began planning for the next day. I scheduled everything – devotions and prayer time, meals, chores, errands…even when I would take a shower. But, most importantly, I scheduled white space. I did this for a few weeks and guess what? It worked! I no longer found myself wondering what I should be doing or when I should be doing it. I discovered that I was able to stay focused and complete tasks more quickly than I had planned and I didn’t feel overwhelmed anymore. I had white space in my schedule and found that I was able to free up even more! Then summer came, and well, summer is sort of a free-for-all in my house so the calendar went out the window for a couple of months. But at the start of the new school year, I began planning my days again and it’s still working.
I know this is not a new concept by any means – people do this all the time. The key is actually in the planning and doing. So why does this work? I believe it has everything to do with a couple of well-known verses in Scripture that talk about time and wisdom.
“Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” Psalm 90:12
“Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.”
These verses speak to us about using our time wisely and making the most of every opportunity because time passes quickly and we can’t get it back once it’s gone. We all have responsibilities – they’re just a part of life – but when we assign a number or time of day to our responsibilities, it seems we can accomplish more with less stress.
With all that said, here’s one more bit of wisdom: be prepared to be flexible and reprioritize! Be open to those spontaneous “God appointments” and for all those moments that He has planned for you. We all know that life happens and it’s out of our control – your mom calls, a child gets sick, your friend needs a hand, etc.. Unplanned circumstances happen, but they can also turn into the biggest blessing of your day. So if your plans don’t work out for that day, consider your priorities and fit those tasks in at another time or on another day.
On this road less traveled, God’s teaching me how to number my days and find the “white space” I’ve been longing for. What time management strategies have proven helpful for you? How do you create “white space” in your schedule?