When the stacks pile higher, the walls move in closer and the demands seem so much more frequent, pushing through the chaos is not always the answer. Instead, for the betterment of yourself and all others involved, it is necessary to stop and seek out space.

One idea: move outside of your work space for a while. Go for a walk or a hike, stop in to your local coffee shop or even just take a meandering drive. Sometimes, even taking a shower and looking at four white walls can give you some much-needed mental clarity.

If you’ve had a particularly frustrating day, take the last ten minutes to straighten your desk or work area. Carefully put away everything that you don’t need the next day, leaving the rest easily accessible and neat. You may even want to put out some fresh flowers to make the space as inviting as possible for the morning.

Another way to make space is to clear your calendar. Look over your plans for the coming year. Schedule your vacation days. Take ten minutes or so to notice how the way long weekends or other special dates fall will help you create elbow room for important events. At the end of the year, you will congratulate yourself for having finally taken time off to take care of yourself, going on that trip you’ve been planning for so long.

Extra space doesn’t just show up on its own; it’s something that must be purposely formed.


Life loves to throw us curve balls. It’s our approach to them (a graceful dive or an angry protest?) that can either make or break our day.

How have you built agility and flexibility into the fabric of your life? Do you feel a sense of overwhelm when surprises come your way, or are you able to remain calm and carry on?

Personality is, of course, a factor here. Are you someone who needs more warning, more processing time or even a few extra steps to get through the obstacle course ahead? If so, don’t fight it; instead, realize that this is normal and plan ways to support yourself through the transitions.

Allow yourself more space, more time, more padding around challenges than you might otherwise do. Then, choose to believe in yourself; remind yourself that you are capable of handling them well. Give yourself the gifts of fresh air, nutrient-rich food, extra pampering, a clean room and house (hire someone if necessary), and whatever else you need to support you, understanding that these are the soft spaces we need to cushion all the harder stuff of life.

Of course, maybe it’s less you need, not more. Less phone or online time, less work, fewer obligations, fewer self-imposed requirements. With less, we can often do more: breathe more, meditate more, stretch our muscles in ways we never have before — or just feel better and more relaxed. Trust that your body, mind and soul require this extra room to have the strength to carry on to the next challenge.


“We need to give each other the space to grow, to be ourselves, to exercise our diversity. We need to give each other space so that we may both give and receive such beautiful things as ideas, openness, dignity, joy, healing, and inclusion.”

― Max De Pree


You may have heard of this one before, but it’s always a great exercise to do:

  1. First, write out every single “to-do” item currently in your head on a piece of paper — every single one. (We are talking about a massive brain dump here.)
  2. Then, take a big breath. If you like, spend ten minutes taking a time out — walking around the block or making some tea, for instance.
  3. When you return to your list, first re-read each to-do item. Then scratch out all of the things that you either know you will never do or that you really don’t want to do and are not truly serving your larger purpose.
  4. Then take the items left on the list and sort them into categories. Add each of them to your daily/weekly/monthly calendars. Give them a home in which to live other than your mind. (You need to keep your mind clear for the better things that are to come, after all.)