Sometimes life seems like it is going in every direction at the speed of light with no end in sight. It is easy to get overwhelmed and when something unexpected comes up, it can be very difficult to weigh the options of necessary and unnecessary when this happens.
Margin refers to the concept of the difference between the load and the limits. When one is overloaded, there is no margin. It can be very easy to slip past the margin into overload without even realizing it, because there is not an indicator that lets people know when they have reached the edge. The more things that are added to the list of must-do things, the more likely that a person will hit overload. People want to be known as achievers and therefore do not always make the load reasonable.
Recognizing life as 100%, many people attempt to commit to 120%. Obviously, this is overload. Ideally, people should try to schedule only about 80% which leaves that margin for the unexpected. This is not something that will happen by itself. A person has to make it happen.
If you have ever attended college, you will know that every teacher will act like they are your only teacher and their class is your only class, when it comes to homework. This is how life in general tends to be. Everyone wants something from you, and everyone thinks they have dibs or priority, unless you tell them otherwise. You have limits, and sometimes even you may not realize where your limits are.
This applies to time, money, and energy.
Time – Ideal Week
Author Todd Duncan explains the idea of setting up an Ideal Week to help combat the pitfall of overscheduling. The Ideal Week is a week completely scheduled how you would want life to go if you controlled it completely, with no outside influences (and therefore no wrenches in the works). Start by determining what you want to include, and then set up when. Be sure to leave some unallocated space in order to have that margin.
Some things will be more fluid – some may take less time than allocated some days and more on others – but some things must be firm lines. Work times, for instance (especially for someone who is self-employed) should be set in stone, both beginning and ending times. This makes it non-negotiable so that things get done, but when the time is up, you can move on to other important things, such as friends and family.
You should always plan the largest blocks and the most important things first, fitting in the others around them, because if you start with the small things, you may run out of appropriately sized chunks for the bigger things.
Remember, though, that there will be tweaking needed to get it how you want it, and also remember that it is a guideline. While some things should be held to as much as possible, life happens. Just try not to let it interfere with the most important things.
Making margin in money is a lot more difficult than it ought to be. It is uncommon in today’s world for people to live beneath their means, but that is what happens when you create margin in your finances.
Part of the reason it is so difficult relates to advertisers and the easy accessibility of credit – which is debt. People are encouraged by lenders to get more debt, max out credit cards, apply for more!
Create financial margin by keeping track of your priorities. Set up a budget. Plan for savings. Having an emergency fund saved up will help when unexpected expenses turn up. Stress is lessened greatly by allowing for margin in your finances.
There is literally only so much one can do in a day. Everyone needs some down time. While work is a necessity of life, our family should be the top energy recipient. In fact, spending time with the family can often boost the energy of the whole family. Plan some fun together times and make memories!
Overall, the important thing is to prioritize properly, while leaving some space for the unexpected, in every area of life. Use your resources responsibly, but do not overuse. Resources can only be spent once, be it time, money, or energy, and using them without using them up is the best way to live.
Learn more about margin and how to apply it by reading books by those who have been there.
This book by Richard Swenson lays out the definition of margin, the proper use of prioritizing, and ways to relieve the pressure of overload.
Written by Todd Duncan, this book examines ways to build margin into a busy work life. Geared toward salespeople, the concepts can be used for other workers, as well.
Financial margin can be achieved with the practical solutions offered by Jason Brown in this handy book.
Russell Clayton, Ph.D. offers insight into building time margin for home and work balance.
Simple and successful advice to create margin in all areas and make them balance in a way that leads to happier living and better relationships is what you will find in this book by the Merrills.
This book talks you through setting priorities and goals in a way that will increase effectiveness and focus, which will result in less stress and better balance.
Moms have responsibilities that do not stop at the end of the standard workday. This book (also available on Kindle) offers ways for busy moms to arrange their time in a way that allows for margin that can be used to pursue things that bring added delight or fulfillment to their lives.