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December 29, 2015

Declutter for the New Year

When I was in college, I learned something important in my advertising classes about life. See, when I first got into advertising, I was like most students starting out. I got all excited about coming up with clever headlines, eye-catching...

Declutter for the New Year

When I was in college, I learned something important in my advertising classes about life.

See, when I first got into advertising, I was like most students starting out. I got all excited about coming up with clever headlines, eye-catching images, and interesting layouts. I had so many great ideas that I would put them all in there together. Inevitably, I ended up turning in one project after another that had 1,000 things going on. I didn’t realize it at the time, but it was busy, cluttered and unattractive.

One of my design professors taught me something my junior year that changed how I created ads.

“It’s not all of these big headlines, elaborate words and blindingly bright pictures that make a good ad, Christy.” All of this stuff,” she said as she waved her hand dramatically all around my paper for emphasis, “is not what makes a beautiful ad.”

“What makes a beautiful ad is the white space—the space where you don’t put anything. You see, the white space points to the few things that you actually do put on the page. It highlights them and makes them stand out. It’s actually the white space that allows the ad to breathe and makes it beautiful.”

I changed how I created ads that day, and as an adult, I now realize that the same is true in life.

It’s not all of the 5,000 things that you try to cram in each week that make your life beautiful. Sometimes, it’s the white space. Just like in advertising, it’s the white space in your life that highlights the things you actually do and makes them stand out. It allows your life to breathe and makes it beautiful.

It seems counterintuitive, I know. You’d think if something is good, then you should have more and more and more of it. But then our lives end up looking like the projects I was turning in. They are busy, cluttered and unattractive.

So let’s stop creating lives that look like discount-furniture newspaper inserts because we’re trying to cram 1,000 things into one finite space.

Instead, let’s leave room to breathe. Choose which things you will do in 2016 in your life, family and business, and then do them well. Everything else, all of the other ideas, opportunities and obligations (translation: clutter), doesn’t make it in—regardless of how good it may be.

Let’s go into 2016 with less clutter and more white space. We will not only have less stress, but we’ll have infinitely more beauty.

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Leave a Comment

  1. Tracy says:

    This is awesome! We do seem to lose sight of what is really important in our lives. Instead of being a jack-of-all trades in 2016, I would really like to be a master of 1 or 2!

  2. Judy Burnett says:

    This makes sense. Often I try to put so many things on my plate that I get overwhelmed and end up not getting anything done. I have decided to make this year a year of stopping and breathing by not being overcome with my To Do List. Thank you again for sharing