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Sunday, February 27, 2011

Margins

There are margins on the edge of this computer screen that you are reading.  There are edges to the paper on which you write (even those journals!) and the books you read.  White space.  Empty places.  Room to for your eye to rest.  Do you have margins in your life?  My father explained margins to me and they provide lots of freedom.  Find out where you need more margins in your life today.

What are margins? Others have written on this subject but here is my quick summary: Margins are the 'room' in life for when things don't work out the exact way I have planned.  Margins are need in time management, finances, living space and emotional energy.  No person can operate at 100% every day, all day.  I think I do well at around 75% of my capacity.  Others may be fine at 90% or need to keep things at the 55% level to stay sane.  What I do know is that if you are operating at 100% - it cannot last forever.  You will crash and burn.

So, how can you build margin in your life?  Here are some things that work for me.
  • It takes me 20 minutes to drive back and forth to work.  I plan for 30 minutes - I can run a quick errand to get a presciption filled or pick up dry cleaning.  I can even dash in for milk.  If the traffic is bad, I'm not stressing for the sitter.  I can even stop at a drive through on the way to work.
  • I have a budget of our needs each month and I plan for every dollar.  But I also have an emergency savings fund and I estimate high on utilites.  I use coupons and seach out sales to get the best deals and allow space in the budget for unexpected events, repairs or FUN!
  • Emotionally I have learned that I need 'down time.'  I do not fill every minute of the day with scheduled activities and if we do have a day or week that is unusually full, I will plan ahead for a free day. 
The priciple of margins can be applied to almost every aspect of life.  By allowing space in your time, fincances and emotional energy you will be able to respond to the unexpected with a reserve of energy.  One kink in the plan won't knock you out.  In fact, having margins allows you to more spontaneous and flexible because you've got something to give! 

Do you feel like you live your life on the edge?  How do you build space into the busy life we all lead?  If you want to learn more about the concept of margins, feel free to ask my dad.  Or read one of the books below.