Do you have space in your life or are you pushed to your limits? At what percentage are you running at? Unfortunately for most of us, we push ourselves to the limits using every second of our time leaving nothing in reserves. We are in desperate need of margin in our lives.
Margin is best described by the space between our current load, and the limit of which we can carry. If we are going to live a healthy meaningful life, then we must learn how to build space between that which we are capable of, and what we are currently carrying. Think about working out. There is a big difference between your max, and what you typically lift. Just as impossible as it is for someone to work out at their max all the time, it’s just as impossible for us to run at our limits all the time. Sooner or later we will burn out and feel as though life is meaningless.
The difficulty is that margin does not just create itself in our lives. We have to make the choice deliberately to build space into our busy lives. The natural tendency in life is to live at your limits, and keep pushing yourselves, but if we are going to build margin in our lives we will have to choose intentionally to follow some simple steps that will help us to build space into our lives…to create margin.
Step 1: Solidify your Values: You have to first sit down and decide ultimately what is most important to you in your life. If you are a Christ follower, then those priorities must be filtered through this question: Is this ultimately important to God in the end? Is it worth spending my life on?
Step 2: Identify the things that demand your time and their contribution to your established values: Everybody wants a piece of your time and money, but you and only you will have to decide who gets them. To do this sit down and create two boxes: one for items that contribute to your values, and the second for things that demand your time but don’t contribute to your values. Then get some note cards and begin to write down all the things that demand your time. After you finish identifying your time demands, sort them into the two boxes.
Step 3: Block time for your values: Sit down with your box of demands that contribute to your overall values, and begin to block time on your schedule for these items. If you don’t block the time you won’t do them.
Step 4: Fill in the holes: Get out your box of time demands that don’t contribute to your values, and begin to fill in the holes in your schedule with the items that will fit. Remember that you only want to use approximately eighty percent of your overall time. The rest should be left for reserves.
Step 5: Learn to say no: You won’t be able to make time for everything in this box. This is hard for a lot of people, but if you are going to build margin into your life, you will have to learn to say no to many things. Most people think that no is the worst thing you can say, but the worst thing you can say is yes to someone when you don’t have the margin to honor or keep your yes.
I hope that these steps help you to build margin into your life. When we build margin into our lives, we instantly place ourselves on a platform to be able to impact and make a difference in others’ lives. I hear so many people say that I would serve, if I just had more time. Or I would give to this or that if I just had more money. The reality is that you wouldn’t because you are not doing it now. You can only serve and impact others when you have created the margin in your life to do so. I hope these steps help you identify a path to building some much needed margin in your life.