zenhabits : breathe

Life’s missing white space

‘Space is the breath of art.’ ~Frank Lloyd Wright

Post written by Leo Babauta. Follow me on twitter .

I’m not a designer, but I’ve always been in love with the design concept of white space.

It’s the space in a design that isn’t filled with things — as you can tell from the design of Zen Habits and my other blog, mnmlist, it’s something I use (perhaps too) liberally.

But white space can be used in the design of our lives as well, not just the design of magazines and websites and ads. By using white space in our lives, we create space, balance, emphasis on what’s important, and a feeling of peace that we cannot achieve with a more cramped life.

Let’s look briefly at how to do this.

The principles of white space

Some of the things white space accomplishes in design:

These same concepts can translate to our lives:

Achieving white space

In theory, achieving white space isn’t difficult: you remove non-essential items from your life, your workday, your surroundings, your possessions, and leave the essential items with space around them.

But of course in practice it’s a bit different, and requires experimentation, learning, practice. I’d suggest starting small, with one area of your life, and making small bits of white space. Start by identifying what’s important, and the slowly removing the non-essential things to create the white space.

Some ideas:


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Read more about simplicity in Leo’s books, The Zen Habits Handbook for Life & The Simple Guide to a Minimalist Life. More here.