Lately, I’ve been thinking about what it means to create margin in my daily life. As 2017 came to a close, I felt like the Lord was telling me to STOP striving. Striving to be like others, striving to change things about myself, striving in the workplace, striving to “fit it all in.” My mind was overloaded with all the “things” I felt like I needed to be doing. I wasn’t giving myself room to breathe, take care of me, and just be. If you’re like me, it’s easy to keep saying “yes” and filling your mind and schedule with more than you can actually handle. I was operating beyond my true capacity. I needed margin.
I’m learning that without margin it’s nearly impossible for me to rest well and focus on the things that are most important to me. Even more so, as a Christ follower, not having margin makes it difficult to hear from the Lord and be open to the things that He wants to bring into my life.
Today I’m sharing tips that have helped me as I progress towards creating more margin in my life.
Evaluate your schedule and readjust. Take some time to map out your daily schedule or simply look at your calendar. You will get a sense of whether you are doing too much or if you have space to add more. Determine if there are things you can remove or shift to free up more time. For me, making lunches and ironing clothes at night has allowed me to have more margin in the morning before work. If I am diligent in doing these two things, my mornings typically are a lot smoother and I feel less rushed, putting me in a positive mood before starting my work day.
Prioritize. Identify things that are non-negotiable in your schedule. Understanding your priorities will help you determine if you are actually focusing your attention on the things that are most important. For me, non-negotiable items include spending time with the Lord each morning, time at home with my family, church on Sunday, small group during the week, work, and getting at least 7 hours of sleep on weekdays. These things will always be in my schedule. My goal is to fit everything else around them.
Prioritize again. Let’s face it. We can’t do it all. At some point, sacrifices will have to be made in order to have the margin we want in life. Sometimes you have to say no to good things in order to make room for what’s best. Here is where you list all your other “priorities” and then narrow the list down to what is truly manageable. As you continue to go through life, the narrow list can always change, affording you the opportunity to focus on other things that might be important based on the season of life you are in. In my life right now, reading has become really important to me so I carve out a few minutes before bed to give myself time to read.
Disconnect. We live in a world where we are so connected all the time. This often leads us down the path of adding more to our lives in order to “keep up with the Joneses.” For the past three weeks I have been off social media as I have participated in 21 Days of Prayer with my church. I have to admit, it’s been freeing to focus on developing my own life instead of watching everyone else’s. Disconnecting has also allowed me to filter the things entering into my mind and influencing my thoughts. I feel less pressure to be something I am not and I have had the opportunity to connect more with those around me. Going forward, our family has decided to implement social media “blackout” times to make sure we are disconnecting on a regular basis.
I encourage you to try these four things if you’re like me and are seeking more margin in life.
I’d love to hear from you. Do you need to create more margin in your life? What steps can you take today to make sure you are giving yourself the space you need?