“It’s already the end of April and I feel like I’m still catching up on last year!” Bruce said. He continued to explain that no matter how much he tries to schedule time to catch up and then relax (after everything’s done), he finds all the little bits of space get filled up in his life and he feels stretched too thin. Bruce is overwhelmed. He needs focus, clarity and leadership in his life. His frustration and exhaustion was palpable.

Does that ever happen for you? I know it has for me – a lot! Maybe there is another way to relate to time and energy?

Spinning Plates

Years ago, Bob Allen demonstrated the idea of spinning plates to keep multiple businesses going at once. “If you are to have multiple successful projects, you will have many competing demands pulling at you all at once,” he said. “But, how do you do it?” someone in the audience behind me asked.

Focus on Big Rocks

He replied, “First you must handle the big rocks.”

“And then, it’s a process of spinning plates.”

He demonstrated spinning 8 or 9 plates on a pole dancing from one to the next to keep them spinning. The pantomime was frantic and speedy. While funny, it brought to life the frantic energy that Bruce was speaking of. The solution was first to make sure you are only spinning the most important plates – then you focus on priority one, get it going, and then make your way through them all in sequence – developing a system along the way to keep each plate spinning as needed. The impact of establishing what the big rocks are is clarity, focus and prioritization!

Too Many Plates

For more than 10 years I ran my business and life with too many spinning plates – too many competing commitments. I was spinning multiple other plates as well. I lacked focus. Here is a sample of my plates:

  • Each of my three sons
    1. Son 1
    2. Son 2
    3. Son 3
  • Exercise
  • Housework
  • Community
  • Business projects:
    • A
    • B
    • C
    • D

That is a lot of plates!

I got very good at spinning plates. I was out of my mind – I mean I was literally out of my mind! Every moment I spent spinning a plate, I was already thinking of the next plate coming. I was not relaxed or present to what I was doing right then. I dashed about from one thing to the next thinking if I simply managed my white space well, I would get more done. Doing life this way allows no space for focus, for clarity or for getting satisfying results! Looking back, I believe that Bob Allen was far more clever than I was. He didn’t seem to dash about. For me, it wasn’t until years later that I started to understand how to properly use ‘white space.’

What is White Space?

We so often think of white space, unassigned time, as something to be filled. As if, it’s not really doing its job – that unassigned time – unless we fill it with something ‘productive.’ Even the idea of ‘blocking out’ time in the calendar so that we have the ability to respond to things that emerge is missing the real treasure of white space. White space must be protected. Blocked time for emergencies must be blocked. They are not the same.

Recently my client, a brilliant Canadian musician and entrepreneur said, “I have 29 days between now and my next travel plan, and I need to schedule out how I’m going to make something awesome happen during that time!” As if awesome only happens in the doing of things! When we calmed his thinking and cleared his head. He became crystal clear on what mattered most to him – and which plates to set to spinning. Most importantly, identified which plates to let fall to the ground. He found focus! He found clarity. And most importantly he was able to clearly prioritize and find his peace.

Being In Love

I thought of one of my mentors, Steve Chandler who said we must “slow down to speed up.” Magic happens in the slow spaces of relaxed time when we are in love with this present moment. “When we are in love,” he wrote in his powerful book, Right Now, “we are full of energy. Colors are brighter, and we are more alive and more creative, and more happy than at any other time. Why not be in love with every moment?”

“When I’m in love, where else would I rather be but right here right now?”

-Steve Chandler Right Now (2017)

Can you imagine feeling that way about everything? Sorting through bills, handling challenging conversations? Solving problems? Dealing with disruptions? Taking out the garbage?

What would it actually take to experience your work and your life that way?

Stress Impact vs. Focus

Neuroscientists agree that stressful states rob humans of their creativity, problem-solving, empathy, and their ability to innovate. The term is “amygdala hijack.” This hijack is the biological process by which we get duped by thought. When we are duped by our thinking – thoughts of the future, the next thing, the worries we have – we are biologically directing blood flow away from the neocortex which is where creative thinking happens. The amygdala hijack is thought to cost most of us 30-40 IQ points – in other words, working from stress and fear makes us less brilliant! It is simply not possible to focus on what matters most from a stressed and distracted mind.

When we calm our nervous system, focus on that which matters most, and fuel our heart, spirit, and body – we can move into flow, (and into a higher level of consciousness), from which creativity soars and solutions pour forth. In this peaceful state, we get more done in less time. We also get better done.

That’s where white space comes in!

Clarity, Focus & Prioritization

White Space

I believe that using ‘white space’ to recharge our energy is the secret to a life of joy – and also to one of tremendous productivity. It would almost be as if the plates remain aloft on relaxed clouds. Our energy keeps them spinning! For that, our energy really must be recharged. For energy to work for us, instead of being scarce, we must stay in our creative minds.

What if white space is really something to be treasured, sought after, and protected? What would have to shift for you to make you willing to protect that emptiness? How will you both surrender and be in joy, while making sure that the “to-dos” and urgent demands vying for time get done?

When we dash from one thing to the next like frantic hamsters on a wheel we sacrifice both the quality of work, and the quality of our life, thus missing out on the value of achieving. Are you willing to test out the miracle of getting things done through clarity and focus, in a sort of Aikido of time? With clarity and spaciousness and from a relaxed state, we are able to get more done in less time. For those of us who have habitually raced on the hamster wheel instead, it will take a reset of our thinking! So how?


The first pass can be clarity. Let’s break down what it costs when we give up our spaciousness – and what are the gift when we protect it?

What are the costs for you? What are the gifts?

Here is my list:

COST of relinquishing spacious time

  • Stress
  • Relationships suffer
  • I get more sick, more easily
  • I don’t sleep as well or as much
  • Harried/bad mood
  • Not present
  • Unable to truly enJOY the moment
  • Things slip between the cracks
  • My presence suffers
  • My clients get less of me
  • I’m distracted even when I am with my friends and family
  • Even when I’m “relaxing” I am not relaxed
  • I get stuck in worry rather than creating effective solutions

The Gift of Focus

GIFTS in the spaciousness

  • Reflection
  • Being present in this moment
  • Kick the can time allows creativity
  • Inspiration occurs in the space
  • I get more done
  • I have more fun and joy
  • I connect more and bring much more value
  • Ideas that shorten tasks occur
  • My clients get inspired thinking
  • Energy and love for my loved ones
  • I get excited about things in my life
  • I am healthier
  • Focus
  • Clarity
  • Peace

It seems that there are two kinds of white space. There is calendaring spaciousness to make room for extra conversations, or tasks. And then there is BE space–time that is protected to be present, without structure, without a to-do list, to simply allow the thoughts to leap onto the frontal stage of our minds and dance away.


To allow for the BE space, it helps to truly declutter. Decluttering takes a number of forms.

  • We can declutter our minds – do a mind dump, have a great talk with a friend, meditate, yoga, exercise, go for a walk;
  • Declutter our relationships – Have meaningful conversations with people we love to create completion on anything unsaid (have the missing conversations);
  • Declutter our business plan – get focused on what we really want to do or not do in our work – and how to drive it forward, with whom to partner, and from whom to get help;
  • Declutter our spaces – literally have spaces with clear and clean surfaces that smell and look pleasant.

Spending time in decluttered space allows for that BE time.

Decluttered BE time + Spacious calendaring = Peace

And wonderfully, and seemingly magically, we are more creative, more effective, and more productive – because we have done the work to create a life that is at once exciting and relaxed, at peace, and spacious.

Will you test it out for yourself?

I look forward to hearing from you about your experiments with white space.

To your continued flourishing,


PS: Click the link here below to shoot me a message!



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Here's what my clients say

“ Lisa Hale’s approach to coaching is authentic, grounded & wonderfully heart-centered, without any New Age fluff. At the same time it is clear, focused, and strategic.

It’s no surprise to me that she is able to quickly accelerate the revenue growth for the high caliber entrepreneurs that are her clients.”

Lorna Li, CEO Changemaker
Digital, San Francisco