Tiny Life Hack: A White Square

Tiny Life Hack: A White Square

While visiting friends in Maine this weekend, I stumbled upon what might prove to be a useful morning hack for you. They’d taken down their bathroom mirror (presumably to replace it), and in its place was a big white rectangle with nothing on it. The first few times, I was disoriented, because I counted on the mirror to give me a quick glance at myself. By the third time, I’d found what makes for a nice focusing hack.

Stare at a square of white wall


This might be equivalent to what Zen wants you to do. I don’t know. I failed Zen, and the other Buddhist methods didn’t click well for me yet, either. But here’s what I did:

I just stood straight and tall, breathed slowly, and looked at the white square. At first, everything was a jumble, like spinning a radio dial and listening to just snips of conversation. But, when I worked at it just a little, I found that I could either break off certain “voices,” and that I could choose to “tune in” certain threads a little better.


What focused me most was asking myself a single question: “What matters?”

This gave me a great frame upon which to hang the goings on of the day, my emotions, and the state of things. Sure, things were hectic. Sure, I hadn’t had much sleep the night before. Sure, I knew that my projects were piling up in my absense, but when I asked myself what mattered, it was this: connect with our hosts, and really enjoy my family.


And that’s what I did.

Break it Down


  • Stand up very straight, with your shoulders relaxed, before a square of white attached to a wall and look at it. (try posterboard from the local drugstore).
  • Take a few deep breaths, slowly. Take a few more.
  • Silence the “chatter.” Think of the white wall as much as you can.
  • Ask yourself: “What matters?” (This is not the same as “What needs to get done?”)
  • Listen to the response. Question it again.
  • Ask again: “What matters?”
  • Accept this answer and stare a while more. Just try to focus on the answer.
  • Leave this space with that idea firmly in your head.

I’m not one for meditating, but this worked well for me over the weekend, and now I’m going to implement it at home.

What are YOUR thoughts on the matter? How do you get to the above state? Where’s your success?

More by this author

7 Uses for a Virtual Machine When Emailing Think Press Release Mail, BrainDump, Mail, Do Stretch Goals Matter You Had me at Insane

Trending in Lifehack

1 How to Plan Your Life Goals and Actually Achieve Them 2 20 Time Management Tips to Super Boost Your Productivity 3 Forget Learning How to Multitask to 10X Your Productivity 4 The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness 5 What Everyone Is Wrong About Achieving Inbox Zero

Read Next


Last Updated on August 12, 2020

How to Plan Your Life Goals and Actually Achieve Them

How to Plan Your Life Goals and Actually Achieve Them

Where do you want to be 5 years from now, 10 years from now, or even this time next year? These places are your goal destinations and although you might know that you don’t want to be standing still in the same place as you are now, it’s not always easy to identify what your real goals are.

Many people think that setting a goal destination is having a dream that is there in the far distant future but will never be attained. This proves to be a self-fulfilling prophesy because of two things:

Firstly, that the goal isn’t specifically defined enough in the first place; and secondly, it remains a remote dream waiting for action which is never taken.

Defining your goal destination is something that you need to take some time to think carefully about. The following steps on how to plan your life goals should get you started on a journey to your destination.

1. Make a List of Your Goal Destinations

Goal destinations are the things that are important to you. Another word for them would be ambitions, but ambitions sound like something which outside of your grasp, whereas goal destinations are certainly achievable if you are willing to put in the effort working towards them.


So what do you really want to do with your life? What are the main things that you would like to accomplish with your life? What is it that you would really regret not doing if you suddenly found you had a limited amount of time left on the earth?

Each of these things is a goal. Define each goal destination in one sentence.

If any of these goals is a stepping stone to another one of the goals, take it off this list as it isn’t a goal destination.

2. Think About the Time Frame to Have the Goal Accomplished

This is where the 5 year, 10 year, next year plan comes into it.

Learn the differences between a short term goal and a long term goal. Some goals will have a “shelf life” because of age, health, finance, etc, whereas others will be up to you as to when you would like to achieve them by.


3. Write Down Your Goals Clearly

Write each goal destination at the top of a new piece of paper.

For each goal, write down what is it that you need and don’t have now that will allow you achieve that goal. This could be some kind of education, career change, finance, a new skill, etc. Any “stepping stone” goals you removed will fit into this exercise. If any of these smaller “goals” have sub-goals, go through the same process with these so that you have precise action points to work with.

4. Write Down What You Need to Do for Each Goal

Under each item listed, write down the things that you will need to do in order to complete each of the steps required to complete the goal. 

These items will become a check-list. They are a tangible way of checking how you are progressing towards reaching your goal destinations. A record of your success!

5. Write Down Your Timeframe With Specific and Realistic Dates

Using the time frames you created, on each goal destination sheet write down the year in which you will complete the goal by.


For any goal which has no fixed completion date, think about when you would like to have accomplished it by and use that as your destination date.

Work within the time frames for each goal destination, make a note of realistic dates by which you will complete each of the small steps.

6. Schedule Your To-Dos

Now take an overview of all your goal destinations and make a schedule of what you need to do this week, this month, this year – in order to progress along the road towards your goal destinations.

Write these action points on a schedule, you have definite dates on which to do things.

7. Use Your Reticular Activating System to Get Your Goal

Learn in this Lifehack’s vlog how you can hack your brain with the Reticular Activation System (RAS) and reach your goal more efficiently:


8. Review Your Progress

At the end of the year, review what you have done this year, mark things off the check-lists for each goal destination and write up the schedule with the action points you need for the next year.

Although it may take you several years to, for example, get the promotion you desire because you first need to get the MBA which means getting a job with more money to allow you to finance a part-time degree course, you will ultimately be successful in achieving your goal destination because you have planned out not only what you want, but how to get it, and have been pro-active towards achieving it.

More Tips for Achieving Goals

Featured photo credit: Debby Hudson via

Read Next