got margin? I don’t. But I need to. Really, we all need to.
Either real or perceived, it seems like we are all running around with very little margin. And when we don’t have margin…or don’t feel like we do…we don’t rest, can’t rest…don’t see, can’t see…don’t feel, can’t feel…don’t think, can’t think…don’t dream, can’t dream…don’t love like we should, can’t love like we should. None of these things are good…and all minimize the chances of our being able to redeem anything. Our yards. Our homes. Our families. Our lives. Anything.
Without margin, we are left in a state of always running on empty. And in that state it’s almost impossible to do anything about it or even imagine that we can do anything about it. And because busyness is glorified in today’s culture, it’s almost frowned upon to pursue having any margin.
When we left for vacation Thursday before last, I had no margin. I kinda knew it…but I was so ramped up that I didn’t really realize it. And I certainly didn’t appreciate the state it had me in – not being able to rest, see, feel, think, dream, or love in any meaningful way. I had plans of cranking out 3 posts to RYGblog while we were gone…as I had all the previous weeks since December. But after being away from all the hustle and bustle of life back home I found a whisper of margin…which fortunately took seed and allowed me to properly calibrate what was more important. I had the choice of being there for my family during our vacation…being present OR writing a few posts to meet an expectation that I had placed on myself. I chose the former.
So to the regular RYGblog visitors, I do apologize for not posting anything this past week and a half. I look forward to getting back to my regular post schedule. But by choosing to pursue margin while in Williamsburg last week…Britt, Brown, and Littlest One got me…and I got them. I think I chose wisely…not only for myself and my family, but having margin will allow me to better serve my design clients and have more to share with my RYGblog friends as well. (And I know that this is seething with irony…given that what we’re preaching here on RYGblog is ground redemption…and ground redemption of any sort requires margin…and I didn’t have any of my own. Guilty.)
So I ask you again, got margin? If not, I’d encourage you to try to figure out a way to get some.
Clearly I’m referring to the milk industry’s got milk? campaign…where, in a tongue & cheek kinda way they essentially suggest that all health and wellness comes from a glass of milk…a proverbial panacea. I know that all of life’s ills won’t be cured by gaining a bit of margin in your life, but I do believe that these ills will be seen in a more appropriate light…thereby putting you in a better place to address them.
Let me suggest a few things that may help you get a bit more margin:
- As best you can, try to jump out of your normal work-a-day life…get out of your rut…change things up a bit. Doing so may help you see where margin is most lacking. This could be as simple as choosing a more scenic route to work…even if it takes you longer to get there. Or as significant as taking a sabbatical from work (if you have the luxury to do that) or from a habit or a hobby.
- Reach out to someone and ask for help. Often our pride gets in the way of this…not wanting to appear that we need anything or need any one. But we all do. Helping and being there for each other is central to being in community. Enjoy it…and recognize that both sides of the helping equation brings life. (And if you don’t have community in your life…pursue that.) This could be as simple as watching someone else’s kids one night…and then switch. Getting away for a date night may be just the kind of margin you need.
- Just say no. It’s more than okay. Realize that saying no to something is actually saying yes to something else…and often those things are more important and certainly more life-giving. You do have the power and ability to say no. And as parents, we have the responsibility to do that for our kids…to not only model that for our kids, but to provide them margin too. If you have a tough time doing this, at the beginning of the week, simply schedule some appointments with yourself…so that when someone asks you to do something, you can honestly say…No, I already have something going on then. This will help you avoid the over-commitment trap we all often find ourselves in.
- Another way to help you say no, is to take control of your week. In his aptly titled blog post “How to Create More Margin in Your Life”, leadership guru and author Michael Hyatt suggests that at the beginning of each week you should schedule your Ideal Week. Similar to how a budget helps you spend your money appropriately, your Ideal Week helps you spend your time more appropriately. I don’t do this…but I should.
- On the flipside of this, track how you spend your time. Like you would keep track of the calories you put in your mouth when you’re on a diet, keep track of what you’re using the minutes of the day for…like literally, write them down. I think you’ll find that there are some things that you would say you really don’t really value (e.g., social media, TV, etc.)…but if you were to look at the record for how you actually spent your time, it would tell a different story. Again, I haven’t done this…but I should.
- Lastly, get more sleep. This may seem counter-intuitive to those of us night owls who view sleep as hours not spent doing something productive…or sometimes, doing nothing productive. But all kinds of studies show that the more rested you are the more productive you are and the more likely you’ll see things with clearer eyes…which will help you make better decisions for how you spend your day. Again…another area I need to be honest with myself about.
Clearly, I have some work to do. How about you…you got margin? If not, I hope you’ll join me in finding or creating a bit more margin in your life…so that we can all rest, think, dream, and love more deeply…and get back to the business of real ground redemption!
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