I’m obsessed with office supplies.  As a child, I loved the rare opportunities of going to work with my mom because as soon as nobody was looking, I would raid the office supply closet. To this day, there is nothing more exciting than a brand new note pad, journal, or a blank canvas on which to create.

All too often our minds get bogged down with 101 tasks, deadlines, activities, and endless demands.   When our minds are in chaos or overwhelm, that shows up in our decisions and actions. We may rush into decisions, make choices we later regret, or pass up an opportunity we wish we would have taken. Writers know all too well, when they are stuck in a mental block, a clean sheet of paper is sometimes all it takes to move them from overwhelm into creative mode.  The human brain is very similar; we need to create space to allow clarity, information, new thoughts and creative ventures to come forward out of the recesses of our brains.

Creating mental White-space

There are many ways to make your mind like that blank sheet of paper. Some use meditation, others exercise, but to avoid any confusion from people having to read our minds to know what we want, it’s a good idea to practice getting ideas out of our heads and down on paper, a process called creating mental whitespace. The process is simple, making it a habit is the challenge. Start by writing down every idea, priority, meeting, task, project, article rattling around upstairs and get it out on paper.  If this is your first time, don’t be concerned if this takes you a little while and don’t get anxious when we see the growing size of the list. The monster you know is better than the monster you don’t.  In other words, when all those ideas are popping in and out of consciousness you will forget something, miss a deadline or an important event. Write down everything you can think of that demands your time. What you do with this list is the exciting part.

Learning to Say NO

As business owners, we have an opportunity to create a life of our choosing. And growing your business, should not mean increasing your responsibilities. In fact it’s quite the opposite. Take a look at your list and take out two highlighter markers. The first time you go through the list, highlight every activity that you are absolutely passionate about doing, everything that is enjoyable, that doesn’t seem like work. Everything else on the list will eventually be entrusted to someone else. Catching a ride on the NO train, as termed by Marie Forleo; means saying no to all the things you are not 100% passionate about, does not require your immediate skill set, or is not relevant to your outcome or goal. Sometimes saying no can be more terrifying than saying yes! Take your second marker out and draw a line through anything else on the list that can immediately be delegated. Resist the urge to believe that nothing is done right unless you do it yourself.  Either you’ll end up hating your business, your business won’t be around long or both.

When we make creating mental white space and learning to say no a habit, we don’t have to manage our time. We only have to manage our priorities and lovingly yet unapologetically say no to everything else.