Over the last decade or so, I have learned the importance of protecting my time and keeping an edge or border around my most precious resource. Finding margin, fighting for margin, and protecting margin are some of my biggest responsibilities for my family. By creating margin in our lives, we are able to rest, recover, and then flourish in the areas that we focus on. In order to set us up for success, we must evaluate our time to create and sustain margin.
6 Steps To Create and Sustain Margin In Your Life:
- Take an inventory of your current commitments and your potential upcoming commitments. If you are married, do this with your spouse.
- Realistically evaluate the time each of those requires. This is hard to do and may take a few tries before you get it right. Attending a weekly class or going to the gym may require additional time for preparation or recovery (ie: travel time, physical recovery time, time for a shower, etc.)
- Prioritize these commitments based upon their importance to your life and the life of your family. Do not “keep up with the Joneses” on this one. It’s YOUR life and YOUR priorities. Do what works for your family, who may have really different needs than your BFFs. Our whole family requires a lot of sleep and we value eating healthy food. We place a higher priority on the time it takes to have those things than others we know, and we miss out on some fun things because of that. But, it’s our choice to make. It’s also yours.
- Decide how much recovery and margin you and your family need in a given week. For us, we rarely have commitments 2 nights in a row during the week. On weekends, we consider that time to be broken into seven time slots (Friday night, Saturday morning, afternoon, night and Sunday morning, afternoon, night.) We purposefully plan to have 3-4 of those time slots free for “margin.” That means with church on Sunday morning and a date night, we usually have only 1-2 more time slots free to schedule a family outing or time with friends to maintain our “margin” priorities. This means that our kids do not go to every birthday party they are invited to. But, it also means that we can cookout with our neighbors at the last minute, too.
- Place these commitments onto the calendar / family schedule to be sure you do not have overlaps. Be sure to look at your home, work and kids commitments too.
- Schedule margin and reprioritize. Include “margin” between your activities/days. If you have something on the calendar every night, you might want to take off one or more of your commitments and plan a night at home with your family instead.
This may not be the easiest conversation to have within your family. It is so hard to tell yourself and others “NO” on really good things. It can feel like you are missing out at first, because you have not yet experienced the relief of that time yet. It can also cause some friction with your spouse when you have two very different ideas on how to spend your time. This may not be solved in one day or one conversation, but it is an important conversation to have. It’s worth it. Your future health will thank you for pressing in.
You are making the choice to do these things or making the choice to allow them to happen. Either way, make it a priority to plan for margin intentionally, in advance, and without fear. After all, time is your most precious resource and the rest of the world wants to own it for you. Take back control of your time and give yourself and your family some margin to enjoy the life you have created.
Join The Conversation: How do you find, fight for, and protect your time and margin? You can leave a comment by clicking here.