White Space – Decluttering Our Calendar

Most of us think we’re too busy to carve out white space in our day, but the truth is, we can’t afford not to.

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“A life devoted to things is a dead life, a stump; a God-shaped life is a flourishing tree.”  Proverbs 11:28 MSG

I’ve never had much of a green thumb, but last spring, I decided to give gardening another try.  I researched flower types and made an appointment with a landscaper.  Together, we mapped out where each flower and shrub would go and I filled up my Tahoe with fertilizer, potting soil, and plants of all different varieties. 

At first, my garden flourished, but while showing it off to a friend a few weeks later, I noticed many of my flowers were withering.  “You should prune them,” she suggested.  So, I began to set aside a few minutes a day to remove dead leaves and petals, trim overgrown branches, and thin dense areas to make room for new growth.  It wasn’t long before I had thicker foliage and more flowers.  The simple practice of pruning made a tremendous impact on the health of the plant.

What might happen if we applied the same practice to our own lives?  How might our lives look different if we removed the things that no longer belong or are crowding our growth to make room for the things we want to flourish?  How can we prune our time commitments and daily distractions until our calendar reflects what we most care about?



In the book of Matthew, Jesus shares this story with the crowd of followers on the shore:

“A farmer went out to sow his seed.  As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up.  Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil.  It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow.  But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root.  Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants.  Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop – a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.  Whoever has ears, let them hear.”  Matthew 13:1-9

In this parable, Jesus is the sower and the seed is the Word of God.  The hardened path represents the person with the hardened heart and the bird represents the enemy.  The enemy knows he can’t take away God’s Word, so he distracts us from it.  He knows he can’t steal our salvation, so he steals our time.   In keeping us focused on selfish motives and societal norms, he succeeds in taking our focus off of God’s Kingdom.  Through condemnation and accusation, he tries to steal our peace and joy.

A few months ago, I stumbled upon this video, Distracted, and it brought me to tears.  It accurately describes the state of our world today – busy, burdened, and distracted from the things that truly matter.  I encourage you to take a few minutes to watch it and consider how it applies to your life.



A Sacred Space

When I first became a stay-at-home mom, the “white space” on my calendar felt uncomfortable, so I filled it.  I signed up for classes and started fitness coaching with two toddlers and a third child on the way.  Other women encouraged me to start while my kids were young – to show other moms they could manage their homes and their businesses while maintaining a healthy balance between the two.

The truth is, starting when I did put undue stress on my family and distracted me from the very thing I needed to embrace.  When my marriage hit a rocky season and I began diligently seeking God, the white space I’d taken for granted became a sacred space to rest, reflect, and connect with my Creator.  I started examining my thoughts and behaviors and realigning them with God’s Word.  It was in that place that God showed me I needed to do some pruning of my own – trimming anxious thoughts, unnecessary time commitments, and unhealthy habits so my family and I could grow and flourish.

White space is the antidote to a chaotic, distracted life.  It’s where we quiet our minds long enough to hear God’s voice and discover how to learn through silence.  It’s where we find our purpose, experience God’s peace, and gain wisdom to know what areas of our life need pruning so we can prioritize what truly matters.  As we develop a relationship with Jesus, white space also allows us to fill our cups so we can better pour out to others and faithfully pursue His calling.

In the parable of the sower (Matthew 13:1-9), the white space is the “good soil” that allows the roots of God’s truth to dig deep.  The crop is not crowded out by rocky ground (i.e., the troubles of this world) but is able to sustain the storms of life.  It’s not overcome by thorns (i.e., other idols and distractions) but has a firm foundation to grow and produce good fruit.  The same is true for our own lives.

“A life devoted to things is a dead life, a stump; a God-shaped life is a flourishing tree.”  Proverbs 11:28 MSG


Pruning Our Schedules

Most of us think we’re too busy to carve out white space in our day, but the truth is, we can’t afford not to.  If you feel like you’re working from your own strength, struggling to keep up, sacrificing your health or time with loved ones, or searching to find joy, the answer isn’t to try harder or push through.  It’s to step back, take a moment to prayerfully consider your commitments, and ask yourself the following:

Does it give my life value?  Is it in alignment with my priorities?  Is it a priority in this season of my life?  Many opportunities are worthy of our time and beneficial to others, but just because they are good things to do doesn’t mean they are the right thing to do right now

Am I doing this because someone told me I should or because it’s what God is calling me to do?  If I’m unsure what His calling is, how can I carve out space to find out?  We must say no to many things we are asked to do in order to say yes to the few things we are called to do.

How would it affect me if I let this commitment go?  What things in my life do I need to walk away from to make room for family, friends, and a personal relationship with God?  These are the things that give our lives value and should be reflected in how we spend our time.

Here are a few additional tips that have helped me declutter my calendar and create margin in my day for the things that matter most.  

1. Time block.  Set aside time for activities such as weekly grocery shopping, household chores, meal prep, errands, and phone calls and mark them on your calendar so they don’t spill over into every nook and cranny of your day.  (For example, meal plan and grocery shop once a week.  

2. Bookend your day.  Schedule your most important tasks first thing in the morning or in the evening – whichever time is most productive for you.  Resist the urge to check email or social media when you first wake up, as it can cause a course change for the rest of your day.

3. Create a simple morning and evening routine to prime your day for success and wind down before bed.  For example, starting my day with prayer, scripture reading, and exercise helps me focus on what’s most important, improve my energy level, and enhance my productivity.  (Click here for short, simple workouts you can do at home with little to no equipment.)

4. Instead of filling up your calendar, focus on making it reflect who you want to become and what you most care about.  Say no to activities not aligned with the life you want to lead to create room for the ones that bring joy and fulfillment.

Call to Action:  White space is not a waste of time – it’s one of the best ways to spend our time if we want to live with purpose, focus, and intention.  To make time for quiet time, we must say no to other things.  How can you prune your time commitments and daily distractions to create space to grow, flourish, and bear Godly fruit?


This is an updated edition of a post originally published on Jen Roland

Featured Image by Hannah Busing on Unsplash

The views and opinions expressed by Kingdom Winds Collective Members, authors, and contributors are their own and do not represent the views of Kingdom Winds LLC.

About the Author

Fueled Fit Focused was inspired by my passion for healthy living, my faith, and my desire to help others move from frazzled to focused and from a full, busy life to a fulfilling, purposeful one. I help women cultivate positive lifestyle habits for their mind, body, and soul with their faith as a foundation for sustainable change. This is accomplished through personalized coaching, speaking, workout sessions, and writing. I provide practical tips for simplified, healthy living so we can move toward wholeness together. To learn more about my ministry, visit www.jenroland.com or connect with me on Facebook @coachjenroland or Instagram @jenroland.

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