“Don’t write in the margins!”
I can still hear my teacher’s voice as I got dangerously close to going over that faded red line. It seemed like such an insignificant correction at the time.
Who cares if I went past the margins?
One letter over the line surely wouldn’t make a difference.
It was probably best to avoid it though.
If I chose to keep crossing the line I could be assured of the following speech: “If you go outside the margins, people won’t be able to read your writing. It becomes hard to focus on your words because there is no defined start and stop.”
I’d heard it a million times. Blah. Blah. Blah.
It wasn’t until recently that I completely understood these concerns about margins.
Exhaustion was setting in.
It was a rough week and the weekend would be even busier.
Between chauffeuring the kids to sports, coaching sessions, household duties, blogging and
refereeing parenting, I could feel myself slipping into a funk. My sleep was restless and my mind was distracted.
I was lacking margin in my life.
The wise words of my elementary teacher began to fill my thoughts. My hectic schedule had begun to eat up the margin in my life. It always started with adding one more thing, but eventually that one more thing became several more things and before I knew it, my calendar was busting at the seams.
The margins were there to protect me from burn out, but I had completely ignored them.
They were not just there for my benefit, but for the benefit of those around me.When my margin begins to shrink, my attitude begins to stink.
This wasn’t the first time I’d overcommitted.
I’ve boarded that train many times, only to find myself overwhelmed, frustrated and worn out.
It’s hard to say no to things that seem to be amazing opportunities.
But I’m quickly learning, saying yes to one thing- means saying no to something else….. like time with my children, dates with my hubby, and quiet time for myself.
I had to re-prioritize to begin building back the margin I had lost.
You must create more margin so you have more room for what’s important, not merely urgent. Michael Hyatt, Living Forward
How do you create margin in your life?
Spend time in the Word
Reading the Word fills us up.
In the midst of a busy season, I find myself drifting away from this simple habit. I wrestle with time constraints and reason that I don’t have time to read.
Other times I completely forget, because I’m so focused on what has to get done.
Yet in the middle of a chaotic time, what I really need is time with God. Letting Him refresh my spirit, change my perspective and quiet my soul is crucial to my well being and adding margin in my life.
Hang out with friends
We rarely realize how much we need time out with friends until we actually do it.
We put it off and think it’s just another thing to add to our busy schedules. Yet when we take the time to relax and have fun, we understand how much it was really needed!
Recently I was talking to a close friend about this very subject. She suggested that we plan it–put it on our calendar each month.
I love this idea!
Putting it on the calendar places the event in the forefront of our minds, reminding us that we need a break. It also provides accountability. I don’t know about your friends, but mine won’t let me off the hook with a cheap excuse not to show!
Readjust your schedule
When our schedules get out of control, it’s time to re-evaluate.
Realistically there are times when we will go hard for a season, but we can’t sustain that long term.
If we know we are going to have a busy week or month, planning some quiet time before or after will help to avoid exhaustion. I have incorporated this habit into my life, mainly because I don’t like the feeling of depletion.
If you find yourself in a constant state of craziness, maybe it’s time to relook at your priorities. Are there some things that can go? Are there things on your calendar that are taking up space?
Sometimes we have to assess our priorities to see what’s adding value and what is pushing into our margins.
Have some “Me” time
This is a biggie!! Honestly, I’m speaking to myself here.
As mom, wife, and COO of the house, I can forget about what I need. I can get so wrapped up in caring for others, that I forget about myself.
Recently I sat down and asked myself, What do I like doing? What brings me rest and replenishes me?
It is not the same for everyone.
Reading a good book, writing and watching a good movie is relaxing for me. For someone else it may be playing golf, running or taking a walk.
Whatever replenishes you is important to your well being. Incorporate it into your schedule. Maybe not daily, but as often as possible.
Do you have margin in your life?
Is your schedule overwhelmed with duties and obligations? Keeping margin in our lives, allows us to avoid exhaustion and maintain balance. When we pursue balance, we will not only see growth in ourselves, but in our most important relationships. How do you build margin in your life? I’d love to hear from you!