The 2/3’s Rule: Save Space for White Space

Recently in one of my NAPO-NE chapter meetings (National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals – New England), we heard a great presentation by an interior designer about the golden rule that often guides the arrangement of furniture and decor: fill two-thirds of a space. This principle, rooted in aesthetics and spatial harmony, emphasizes the importance of balance and proportion in creating visually appealing environments. Interestingly, this rule of design can also offer valuable insights into managing our most precious, non-renewable resource: time.

Understanding the Rule of 2/3’s in Interior Design

The rule of 2/3’s in interior design suggests that to achieve a balanced and visually pleasing space, approximately two-thirds of the room should be filled with furniture, decor, or architectural elements, leaving the remaining one-third empty or negative space. This ratio creates a sense of equilibrium, allowing the eye to rest while still providing enough visual interest to captivate the viewer. Graphic designers call this “white space.” Have you ever looked at a website, brochure, or flyer that had so much stuff on it that it looked crammed and overcrowded? It’s a similar concept!

By adhering to the 2/3’s principle, designers can avoid overcrowding a space, which can lead to a sense of claustrophobia or visual overwhelm. Conversely, leaving too much empty space can make a room feel sparse and lacking in warmth or personality. Striking the right balance between filled and empty areas is key to creating an inviting and relaxing atmosphere.

Applying the Rule of 2/3 to Time Management

Just as the rule of 2/3 is essential in shaping physical spaces, a similar concept can be applied to managing our time effectively. In the realm of time management, filling two-thirds of our schedule with work commitments, family and5 Tips to Minimize Multi-Tasking blog post home responsibilities, maintaining relationships, and other meaningful activities, can help us strike a balance between productivity and rest, achievement and relaxation.

Consider your daily or weekly schedule as the empty room in which you design your life. Instead of cramming every minute with tasks and obligations, strive to fill only approximately two-thirds of your time to productive endeavors such as work, studying, or pursuing personal goals. This ensures that you’re making progress towards your objectives without sacrificing essential elements like self-care, leisure, and downtime. In other words, leave a little “white space” in your calendar!

The Benefits of Balancing Your Time

  1. Enhanced Productivity: By filling two-thirds of your schedule with purposeful activities, you create a structured framework for accomplishing your goals and priorities. This focused approach helps you make the most of your time and can minimize the risk of allowing procrastination and distractions to get in the way.
  2. Reduced Stress and Overwhelm: Just as an overcrowded room can feel chaotic, an overloaded schedule can leave you feeling stressed and overwhelmed. By leaving space for breaks, relaxation, and spontaneity, you cultivate a sense of ease and flexibility in your daily life. Sometimes, just vegging on the couch watching Netflix is ok!
  3. Improved Creativity and Well-being: Allowing for moments of rest and leisure fosters creativity, rejuvenation, and overall well-being. Just as negative space in design provides breathing room for the eyes, empty pockets of time in your schedule offer opportunities for reflection, inspiration, and self-care.

Finding Your Balance

Achieving the ideal balance between productivity and leisure – what is often called work-life balance – requires taking a careful look at your current schedule. Where you can make adjustments to better align with the rule of 2/3’s? Where can you insert a little “white space”? Remember that maintaining a perfect balance between work life and personal life is not realistic, nor possible most of the time. The sway will weigh a bit heavier on one side than the other for periods of time. That’s just LIFE! But by embracing the principles of the interior design rule of 2/3’s in managing your time, you can create a life that’s both productive and fulfilling. Aim to fill your days with purposeful activities while leaving room for relaxation, creativity, and joy. Don’t fill every single moment with activity. Leave yourself room to just…breathe. Save space for a little “white space”!

About The Author

Lisa Griffith is a speaker and consultant who provides services, both on-site and virtually, to help busy professionals organize their offices, systems and calendars. In addition to business and home office organizing, productivity and time management coaching, she provides workshops & seminars for business and community groups.