Some of you might have read about Jim Collins spending 50% of his time on creative work, and wondered, “How does he do that?” The Harvard Business Review provides the answer in Manage your time like Jim Collins:

“I block out the morning from 8 am to noon to think, read and write. ” He unplugs everything electronic, including his Internet connection. Although he has a reputation for reclusiveness, when asked about this, he replies: “I’m not reclusive. But I need to be in the cave to work.”

One of his favorite quotes comes from the famously disciplined French novelist Gustave Flaubert: “Be regular and orderly in your life, so that you may be violent and original in your work.” For Collins, high-quality work requires long stretches of high-quality thinking. “White space,” as he calls it, is the prerequisite for fresh, creative thought. It’s the time that he spends with nothing scheduled, so that he can empty his mind, like the proverbial teacup, and refill it with new thought.

He aims to spend 100 days next year in the white space. “As a great teacher, Rochelle Myers, taught me, you can’t make your own life a work of art if you’re not working with a clean canvas,” he says. (Another smart bit of Collins philosophy: “Speak less. Say more.”

So how much white space do you have in your life? And how do you secure it?

  • Aaron Tubbs

    Short answer? I don’t have enough “white space.” Usually an hour or three per week gained by waking up early. But, I am working to obtain some more. In my particular case this means I am leaving my job of twelve years to take a position that requires less time per week and per year. This will be less lucrative financially but a gold mine spiritually and creatively.

    • David Murray

      Brave but wise man.