Book Summary: Create Space by Derek Draper: How to manage time, and find focus, productivity and success

The key to success is reflection, says author, Derek Draper. Reflection allows you to know yourself better, to be able to identify your strengths and weaknesses, and in turn create a more effective plan for success in whatever you choose to do. You’ll be able to reduce mistakes and make better decisions.

The problem is that many of us don’t give ourselves the space to reflect.

According to Draper, in order to achieve self-reflection, you need 4 types of space:

Temporal space (time)
Physical space (location)
Relational space (someone else to help you reflect)
Psychic space (being open to try new things and give yourself mental room for improvement)

Finding this space can be difficult if you’re juggling life’s commitments – work, family, study and other endeavours can all take up space. What’s more, reflecting on yourself objectively can also lead to some unpleasant realisations about yourself.

However, the author urges us to give it a go, outlining some specific ways in which making space for self-reflection can lead to success.


Draper says that everyone fits into one of two mindsets:

Fixed mindset – you believe learning stops after a certain point because your brain can only hold a certain amount of information
Growth mindset – you believe you can always learn more

He maintains that you need to create space for learning by adopting a growth mindset. According to neuroscientists, your brain always has the capacity to grow and change. If you bear this in mind, it helps you to overcome any fears of failure that may be getting in the way of success. If you allow yourself space for learning and have a growth mindset when it comes to making mistakes, you’ll see failures as opportunities to grow and develop, thus eliminating any fear of failure. Asking for help, or finding a career mentor, is a great way to begin.


If you want to build strong relationships with people, you need to find space to connect with yourself first. Self-reflection is also about checking in on your own body and mind. Doing this regularly can help ensure that you, and not your emotions, are in control.

This is a great way to develop your emotional intelligence which in turn helps you connect with others.

Sharing and relating

As well as emotional intelligence, in order to forge better, more meaningful relationships and stronger teams, you need to create space for sharing and relating. The author suggests a way to measure how strong your relationships are with others, using a stakeholder map. Write a list of everyone in your life and rate your relationship with them from one (not at all strong) to ten (very strong). Not all relationships need to be a ten, but the map gives you an idea of the relationships you need to work on.

Planning and prioritising

In order to be productive, you need to create space for planning. In order to create an effective plan, you first need a goal, and then steps to achieve that goal.

You then need to create space to do the things on your plan. Life is full of distractions and interruptions. What’s more, distractions actually cause your body to produce dopamine, which is an addictive neurochemical associated with pleasure. No wonder it’s so difficult to create space for uninterrupted task-completing!

One great way to create space for productivity is to find a physical space as free from distraction as possible, then create mental space by prioritising your tasks. Sort your tasks into one of four categories:

Do now
Defer until later


One vital path to success is to give yourself the space to lead. Good leadership, the author argues, is about delegation. By letting others rise to the occasion and come up with solutions themselves, you’re making them feel empowered and trusted and it gives them an opportunity for growth.

Purpose and balance

Many of us end up in jobs that don’t align with our passions or work that we don’t find satisfying. The author says that you should strive to restore your sense of purpose and balance by giving yourself space to figure out what your passions and values are, and try to align your career with these. This will in turn give you the space to just be yourself.

Difficult choices

Sometimes this is easier said than done, especially if you’ve got bills to pay and a family to support.

Giving yourself the space to grow is all about setting yourself up for your ideal future. Sometimes this involves difficult choices and sacrifices – and the author encourages you to make these as much as you can. Perhaps you need to make a big choice like relocating, taking a pay cut or going back to college. However, the author argues that the reward can far outweigh the cost if it leads you to giving yourself the space to be who you are and find success.