Note: This is a guest post by Rachelle Crawford of Abundant Life With Less.
The other day my mad skills were called upon. Okay, so they weren’t so much “called upon” per say. It was more like I forced my way into my sister’s home and begged her to let me help her declutter. Now that my own home is pretty streamlined, I’ve got to find other outlets for my irresistible urge to purge.
With some kid free time on our hands, we were an unstoppable force, decluttering closet after closet until we landed in her bedroom.
I had no idea she had some many clothes! That closet was packed full. If I’m being perfectly honest though, her accumulation wasn’t entirely her fault. For pretty much her entire life, I’ve unloaded my excess on her, appeasing my buyer’s remorse and fear of letting go by handing things down to my little sister.
There, my stuff sat…for years. Today was the day we began undoing it all.
We kept at it, mocking some of the ridiculous items she kept for far too long and uncovering some of her most favorite things beneath the rubble.
Eventually, we found the floor of that closet, buried under a mound of shoes. It was clean, open, empty and glorious.
I gloated, “Look at all of that open space! Isn’t it beautiful?”
She immediately began contemplating what could go there in its place and I of course, insisted she leave it empty. Her response caught me off guard. She said,
“I just always thought you needed to fill all the space.”
When she said it like that, I realized for years I had too. We have been conditioned to fill the spaces, and it’s not just with our possessions.
While every closet of mine was filled to the brim and my walls always seemed to need a little something extra, my calendar was just as bad. I always had something to do and somewhere to go.
Empty space of any kind feels awkward and uncomfortable.
While there are many different reasons we opt to fill all the spaces, the consequence is consistent; operating at max capacity causes us to miss out on so much more.
“White space in our life is where the magic happens.” – Brian Gardner
Here are 5 reasons your space could be better empty.
1. Empty Space Leaves Room for Possibility.
As a self-diagnosed planning addict, I’ve recently come to learn that not everything needs to be decided.
When our schedules are bumper-to-bumper and every moment is accounted for, there is no room for spontaneity, no room for what could be, and no room for adventure. However, empty space gives us the freedom to redirect our day.
No truly great story ever ended with, “...and then exactly what I planned for happened.”
No. It’s those unexpected plot twists and uneven paths we wind up taking that leave us with something to talk about and the desire to allow possibility to lead the way next time.
2. Empty Space Helps You See What I Value Most.
My drawers and closets were always overflowing with stuff and it caused me to never be able to find what I was looking for. I couldn’t find my favorite things. I’d get frustrated and wind up settling for something else. The good stuff was there, I just couldn’t see it.
The same goes for our time. With no down-time in our day, we scurry along looking right past what it is we’re actually after. All the while, the small, simple moments, the moments that matter, get missed.
Empty space in my day gives me a new perspective and the freedom to make my people my priority, choose experiences over things, and be where I am wholeheartedly.
3. Empty Space Allows You to See Past Myself.
Empty space creates greater capacity for generosity.
When I let myself become too busy, I move into survival mode. Generosity is the first thing to go. My head stays down and I’m just doing what I can to simply put one foot in front of the other.
In those moments, I can barely manage to feed my own family, let alone find time to bring you a meal.
Empty space on our calendar allows us to lift our heads more often, connect with the people around us and identify needs. Most importantly, we’ll find we have a greater capacity to fill those needs.
4. Empty Space Encourages Creativity.
I spent decades of my life under the assumption that I wasn’t the “creative type.” However, I’ve recently realized that’s impossible because creativity is a part of each of us. We each just wear it differently.
Operating at max capacity stifles our ability to be creative. When my brain is focused on my never ending to-do list, I can’t offer it the luxury of wandering.
Wandering is where the epiphanies occur. In those slow and simple moments, I find unique solutions to problems, little dreams grow into big ones, and new ideas begin to spark a fire in my belly.
5. Empty Space Makes Room for Rest.
Rest must be non-negotiable because burn-out doesn’t discriminate.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a college student or you’re running a billion dollar company, whether you’re a stay-at-home mom or grandparent moving into your retirement years. Burn-out always comes knocking when we take on too much for too long.
Whether rest looks like seven days tucked away on a remote Island in the Caribbean, ten minutes of silence while your kids are plugged into PBS kids, or somewhere in between, rest is more easily accessed with space in your calendar.
Find it, create it, fight for it, because nobody is going to hand it to you.
You don’t need to fill all of the spaces! Instead, let the open corners of your home and the clear space in your day allow you see the good stuff. Let it usher in more love, creativity, rest and spontaneity. Who knows where your empty space may take you?
Rachelle Crawford writes at Abundant Life With Less. She is passionate about her family’s transition from clutter and chaos, to purpose and peace, through simply owning less.