How Can We Add Margin to Our Busy Lives?
Producing For Others – Part 6
How can we add margin to our lives while improving and developing?
I like talking about margin. It’s not a common word. The common term, which is more prevalent, is stressed or busy. Ask someone how they’re doing their response is…I’m so busy. That’s a life that lacks margin. Can you believe there was a day where my life (my activities & responsibilities) were out of control, my control? Well, I didn’t like that at all so Pamela and I decided to change that. We decided to concentrate on this focus statement all year (in 2012): “Create Margin in All We Do.” Lacking margin brings stress, and restlessness. It brings chaos and disorder. It leaves you chasing and running behind people, activities, and responsibilities. In the workplace they call this a “reactive” approach to getting things done; you wait until you see the fire before taking action. If being reactive is the opposite of having margin, that means the solution to the margin problem begins with being proactive. Let’s discuss what it means a little further.
The Thought or Concept:
What does it mean to have margin?
I learned more about the margin concept from two people: Craig Groeschel and Michael Hyatt. Craig taught me this, “Better is one handful [with peace and] tranquility than two handfuls with toiling and chasing after the wind.” When you have both hands full there is no room to use either hand for anything else. Even if you try you end up dropping something. That’s living without margin.
Michael taught me how to live intentionally. People who have zero margin in life are those who are not intentional about what they are doing with their life. They’re not intentional about planning or managing their time which produces margin.
“Margin is not something that just happens. You have to fight for it.” – Michael Hyatt
Lacking margin means you lack a plan or clear objectives to accomplish anything. You “fly by the seat of your pants.” So how can we add margin to our busy lives?
How does one add margin?
- Decide that this is a problem for you.
Decide that your hands are too full, your plate is too small. Until you think this is a problem for you, you’ll never adjust your behavior. I’ve heard that “life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.” Most people are victims of being overwhelmed and they believe it’s nothing they can do about it. You must leave that type thinking and gain a victor’s thinking in which you believe you don’t have to continue to live life like this.
- Live by a calendar.
You must learn how a calendar works and why calendars exist. You don’t have an endless amount of time. Your days aren’t 25 hours long. Living by a calendar puts things in a proper place. It says these are my priorities for the day, week, month, and year. Without it, you’ll forget or attempt to do more than you have time to do.
- Build your own digital toolkit.
To have margin will require getting some help. You’ll need some tools and must rely on those tools. You can’t continue to do things the same way you’ve always done them. You’ll need to use apps that can make your life more efficient and easier. You will need to learn how to use productivity apps just like a pilot navigates with his instruments. For example, it’s like my “Mint” app.
I once did all my financial accounting using a spreadsheet that took me about an hour or more each week to update. Today using Mint, this process is almost automated. Talk about a time saver (4 hours a month, 48 hours a year) and a margin gainer.
- Evaluate your processes regularly.
You must evaluate what you’re doing to improve the process regularly. It’s never finished. I used to perform all my website updates myself, now I have a team for that. Why? I was no longer effective or efficient. I fell behind and worked a lot more than I should have on the wrong things. I wasted a lot of time, time I could have been spending doing the things only I can do. Evaluating lets you shift your efforts from what you’re not good at, to what you are. You should try it.
Don’t be afraid to admit that a process is no longer working or can be improved. This is called growth and growth yields margin.
We’ve just discussed four ways you can add margin into your life. Take one and start today.
Today is Friday!
You know what you have to lose by starting the process of adding margin to your life today? Stress and feeling overwhelmed. You get to lose the busyness that life tries to pile up. By gaining margin which requires a plan, you get to live the life you dream.
Until next week, remember to create margin in the only life you have, which is…your business.