Derek Featherstone's Box of Chocolates: You never know what you're going to get

Box of Chocolates

Sunday, October 11th - 10:14pm

Needs More Whitespace

My life needs more whitespace.

Your life needs more whitespace. You told me so in your comments on “What Gives?” When you have no whitespace in your life — like a design — it doesn’t feel right. Crowded. Sub-optimal. You can get the job done, but something just doesn’t feel right.

To create more whitespace in a design, we take things away. We create margins. Padding. We add more line-spacing. How can we do that in our lives?

Quit working through lunch. I’m not talking about time here. I’m talking about the activity. Stop eating your lunch at your computer. You may need to eat at your computer once in a while, but when it becomes every meal of every day, a vital part of your whitespace is gone.

Meetings take up your whitespace. Get rid of any that you can. Yes, other people have written this before. I write it here because I feel the sharp pains of them being right. And if you can’t get rid of them, work hard to avoid back to back to back meetings.

Boxes must go. You know how you want to draw attention to something in a design? You draw a box around it. Then, you want to draw attention to something else and you draw a box around it too. Pretty soon everything has a box around it. And when everything has a box around it, nothing does. Don’t draw attention to or separate various aspects of your life with boxes. Separate them with whitespace.

The beauty of whitespace is contrast. Whitespace accentuates contrasting elements and allows them to stand out based on what they are and aren’t, rather than what visual treatment they have to make them stand out.

Like the elements of a great design the elements of your life don’t need a visual treatment. They just need some room to stand on their own. The elements of your life need more whitespace.

84 Tweets 1 Comment 2 Other Comments

52 Comments

I need more whitespace. Do you? http://bit.ly/3hIAVC

(posted on Twitter)

. @feather I love that analogy, that’s a *great* article :) http://bit.ly/3hIAVC

(posted on Twitter)

. @feather I love that analogy, that’s a *great* article :) http://bit.ly/3hIAVC

This comment was originally posted on Twitter

.@feather What a great post. ‘Your life needs more whitespace’: http://bit.ly/3hIAVC

(posted on Twitter)

.@feather What a great post. ‘Your life needs more whitespace’: http://bit.ly/3hIAVC

This comment was originally posted on Twitter

Excellent and timely! RT @markboulton: .@feather What a great post. ‘Your life needs more whitespace’: http://bit.ly/3hIAVC

(posted on Twitter)

Excellent and timely! RT @markboulton: .@feather What a great post. ‘Your life needs more whitespace’: http://bit.ly/3hIAVC

This comment was originally posted on Twitter

Nicely put. I could feel myself wanting to breathe a little more as I read through.

I need more whitespace. Do you? http://bit.ly/3hIAVC (via @feather)

(posted on Twitter)

Awesome… Another great thing to do is stop checking email all the freakin’ time! I’ve started checking only a couple times a day–sometimes just once. It’s very liberating. My days felt a lot more open after I got used to it.

Great article! RT @feather: I need more whitespace. Do you? http://bit.ly/3hIAVC

(posted on Twitter)

I definitely need more whitespace. I also need to Make The Logo Bigger. You know?

I can get behind this… RT @willsansbury RT @danritz: I need more whitespace. Do you? http://bit.ly/3hIAVC (via @feather)

(posted on Twitter)

“The elements of your life need more whitespace.” http://bit.ly/3hIAVC Nice analgy via @feather

(posted on Twitter)

Replace the white-noise in your life with some white-space – http://bit.ly/3hIAVC

(posted on Twitter)

I think white space is sometimes called peace and quiet. Office babble in the background reduces productivity by up to 17% or even 30%, depending on the task, according to researcher Dr Sabine Schnittmeier. I blogged about this at Five Sketches.

You’ve put into words what I had been feeling for a while. Nicely done.

Agreed, this is elegantly stated. I do need more whitespace. RT @feather: I need more whitespace. Do you? http://bit.ly/3hIAVC

(posted on Twitter)

Agreed, this is elegantly stated. I do need more whitespace. RT @feather: I need more whitespace. Do you? http://bit.ly/3hIAVC

This comment was originally posted on Twitter

Great post. I agree completely.

Now, how can I apply this to my triathlon training… if I’m going to move up from 70.3 to The Big Show, how do I add white space to that? Well, besides training during lunch instead of working during lunch…

Thoughts?

-@dsmay

I need more whitespace. Do you? http://bit.ly/3hIAVC (via @feather)

(posted on Twitter)

jaygoldman: Great article! RT @feather: I need more whitespace. Do you? http://bit.ly/3hIAVC http://ff.im/-9Ec7x

(posted on Twitter)

Bookmarked: Needs More Whitespace http://bit.ly/12TYfb

(posted on Twitter)

Nice post by @feather ~ “The elements in our lives need more whitespace.” http://bit.ly/3hIAVC

(posted on Twitter)

My life needs more whitespace. Nice metaphor from @feather -> http://bit.ly/19rEnS (hat tip @danritz)

(posted on Twitter)

Great analogy for designers and developers: I need more whitespace. Do you? http://bit.ly/3hIAVC (via @feather)

(posted on Twitter)

Love the analogy. Now I just have to practice what I’ve read here…

Yes! (Bril follow-up to “What gives?” post.) RT @feather I need more whitespace. Do you? http://bit.ly/3hIAVC

(posted on Twitter)

A follow-up from @feather on his excellent ‘What Gives?’ post: ‘Needs More Whitespace’ http://bit.ly/17JtRZ

(posted on Twitter)

Find some whitespace in your life. (I know I need to, how about you?) http://bit.ly/iSLCh (via @feather)

(posted on Twitter)

So true. But I think the things that really take up my whitespace are email and Twitter. They provide a constant trickle of stuff that slowly fills up every tiny nook.

@Andrea: Is Twitter time a whitespace killer? I guess it depends on how you’re using it and how often :) For me, it isn’t an all the time thing, and I try to limit it to short bursts to see what is going on around me. It doesn’t always work, of course. Hmmm. I’ll have to think about this a little bit more…

Thanks, all! My thoughts on whitespace in life seems to be well-received: http://bit.ly/3hIAVC

(posted on Twitter)

Article: Add more whitespace to your life via @feather. Great article :) http://bit.ly/15XntY

(posted on Twitter)

Does your life need more whitespace, because mine sure does (a great thought by @feather): http://bit.ly/3hIAVC

(posted on Twitter)

Interesting metaphor — whitespace separating the elements of one’s day (and life), i.e. don’t crowd your schedule.

(posted on Hacker News)

whitespace eh?! http://tinyurl.com/yllnhun – thx @burin

(posted on Twitter)

Needs More Whitespace ยป box of chocolates http://ff.im/-9HQO2

(posted on Twitter)

@Wion Standing in for @willsansbury. Read 1) What Gives? http://bit.ly/HXCva, then 2) Whitespace http://bit.ly/3hIAVC. From amazing @feather

(posted on Twitter)

“Your life needs more whitespace”. Excellent post by @feather. http://bit.ly/crThi

(posted on Twitter)

Hey Derek, you know what? I work part-time. One day that is all for me, and me alone.

Of course most of the time I end up doing laundry, housekeeping and going for the week’s food at the store, but in the end? My brain gets one good day of rest per week.

Try to take a day off every once in a while, it’s good.

Oh, and I never, ever eat in front of the computer. Kitchen, radio, or half an hour of a DVD. It’s very good for my white space, really.

The elements of your life need more whitespace http://bit.ly/40zkNq

(posted on Twitter)

Good on you Gary – I think that slowing it down is something we should all be doing. It’s hard to say no though, especially when it’s all stuff you love.

I too am taking a break from community obligations so I know exactly where you’re coming from. Hopefully a bit of extra white space will mean that when we are ready to spend more time giving back to the community again, we will be doing it with 200% enthusiasm.

(posted on Man with no Blog)

Gary – I have known you from the pre-AWIA days when you first rocked up as a consultant to look at our CMS, you had a lot of energy then and amazingly still do – your passion for the industry and knowledge of all things web are deep and you have created a void that will be missed and hard to fill. But you are right sometimes you come to a stage where something has to give and quality of life as Kelly so eloquently presented is a lot more important.

I will still be tweeting or emailing you for advise and hope to still be having a beer with you when both of us have zimmer frames

Thank you for your contribution to the Industry

A

(posted on Man with no Blog)

Your life needs more whitespace http://bit.ly/19rEnS

(posted on Twitter)

“Needs More Whitespace” from @feather: http://bit.ly/1Wwfo

(posted on Twitter)

Lunch? You mean that mid-day period with no clients scheduled when I try to learn accessible hand coding and attempt not to dribble on the keyboard?
Perhaps I should dedicate a few moments to repeat a peaceful mantra (or have a piece of white chocolate) whilst contemplating this question: What is the sound of one tag opening? Your analogy warms both yin and yang. Thank you, R

All of these are excellent. Meetings seem to suck up the most whitespace and it is so rewarding when you add it back into your life. Sometimes meetings are necessary but often we can control the length and effectiveness.

Fantastic read Derek.

I noticed your 2nd point about Meetings take up whitespace and a comment on checking emails less, which reminded me of a book I read called “The 4 Hour Work Week” by Tim Ferriss.

Tim uses a meeting technique where he will ask the client to email the agenda of the meeting. This generally results in a single question, which can be answered in a simple email or phone call rather than wasting it on a meeting.

A Note: the first part of the book conflicted with some personal values, but sticking through it, I did get some real good value/techniques out of it, including the one about checking emails twice a day only (“If it’s important, they will call”).

Hope this helps =)

Hope that helps.

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