In his book Margin, author Richard Swenson, M.D., talks about the need to protect and, where needed, expand our margins in life. Just as a printed page would be difficult, if not nearly impossible, to read without margins, our lives can become overloaded and ineffective without appropriate space “between our load and limits.”
While there are a number of areas in life that potentially fall victim to a lack of margin, our time is one area that I believe many individuals struggle with more consistently and pervasively than others. A common refrain that is often heard is, “I wish I had the time to…” For some, prioritizing and aligning their time around current activities and objectives is what is needed most. For others, there is a need to intentionally create margin by saying “no.”
Saying “no” to potential “opportunities” is an extremely difficult thing to do for many people. Perhaps we don’t want to feel left out. Or, maybe we are so focused on achieving an objective that we view “down-time” as a failure to capitalize on “open space.” The reality is that creating appropriate margin gives life by allowing for rest, reflection, relationships and potential opportunities that we may have never experienced without it.
As you think about your time, be intentional about creating enough margin to reflect on how much margin you have in your life. Then, develop foundational principles of margin that will serve as appropriate boundaries and guidelines in saying “yes” or “no” to requests for your time (either from others or yourself).
Enjoy your time!