Have you ever had a day where you have looked at your schedule and wondered, “Who scheduled this day?” You drop the kids off at school, rush to the gym to make a class, race to the grocery store to pick up dinner your supposed to make for a neighbor, you remember you agreed to go to a PTA luncheon and still need to find a sitter for that client dinner you have tonight. If you are like me, chances are you have a To-Do list that is longer than today, this week or this month!
These are the days when it seems there are just not enough hours in a day to get everything you need to get done-DONE! When we budget our time down to the minute, we have no time for unexpected events or emergencies. What you need is margin, or as I like to call it “White Space” — a time when no one is making demands of you and you have breathing room. It’s keeping a little reserve that you are not using up.
Margin in our life allows us to stay on schedule and keeps unnecessary stress out of our lives. With margin in my life, I am more grace-filled. I’m less edgy, more patient, more intentional and more sympathetic. I laugh and love more, too! Margin in my life does not come easy – it takes work to “create” it.
I can find many ways to full up my white space: work longer, cheat sleep, say yes to more things, add activities to my calendar (daily) and the list goes on. As human beings, we are always tempted to do more. When the margins are missing, life becomes difficult to manage. We either thrive or survive!
There is always time to do everything we are supposed to do. The challenge is carefully choosing the things we agree to do and not wasting time doing the things we were never supposed to do in the first place. But where is the “How-to” for figuring this part out? It won’t happen without planning and commitment.
A wise women and mentor of mine once sat me down and told me this:
- Find out your real and true priorities and set your goals on your calendar around these “Big Rocks”
- Put all your Big Rocks on your calendar first at the beginning of each week/month/year. (Family vacations, Workout days, Getaways with spouse, Date nights, etc.)
- Four Times a year, take 24 hours and get away with your spouse to plan, relax, regroup and dream! I like to call these “Quarterly Getaways.”
- Make monthly date days/nights with kids, family or spouse.
- Set “No Fly Zones” for a day or two after times on your calendar where you know will be very busy.
- Set clear boundaries for outside competing forces. (i.e. company, family and other activities)
If you take the time to prioritize the important, you will start to get clarity on the urgent. One of the best things about this exercise above is it brings clarity and clarity can bring realization that it’s healthy to say “No.” It’s in the margin where the great things happen. Sometimes we have to say “No” to the good so we can say “Yes” to the great!
“Your life moves to a better place when you move at a sustainable place.” – Jeff Henderson of Northpoint Community Church
Tracie Nolde lives in Atlanta, GA with her husband, Jeff, and their three children, Camden, Chase and Kennedy.