What if margin is less about where we use our yes and no, and more about being all in wherever we are? What if margin is actually created by the ability to be completely present in the moments we are in?
The reality is that I want to be able to sit down with my kids to do homework without thinking about the errands I need to run, what I’m going to cook for dinner and the emails I need to respond to. I want to have dinner with my husband without feeling pulled toward the dinging of my phone. I want to linger with a book and a cup of coffee without thinking I should be doing something else.
This, for me, is margin.
So how am I going to get there?
Here are four things I am aiming for this fall that are helping, and I hope they help you too:
FOCUS YOUR time
Sometime during the weekend, typically on Sunday, I do a brain dump. I write all the things I need to get done for the week, the things I want to get done for the week and the people I’d like to connect with. There are things like “meal plan” and “wash my car” and then there are things on there like “counseling appointment” or “attend evening event with Jeff”. This is a place where I unload all the need to’s, have to’s and want to’s.
Then I immediately cross five things off. Y’all, I mean right now my list ends up being two pages - your’s might be even more! But there are always things that are on my brain but that aren’t necessary for that week.
Next - and this is most important for me - I break the things up into chunks.
For example, if there are several emails I need to write or respond to, I schedule a time to do that all at once. Then if there are online payments I need to make or some instagram work I need to do, I schedule that chunk of time around the emails because it is also on my computer. This way, I am knocking it out all in one sitting.
This way I am not running errands every day. It’s all one day.
This way I am not doing housework every single day, but in chunks of time.
This way I feel like I’m not spread thin, but instead being efficient.
EAT WELL & GO TO BED
This one is the hardest for me, but essential.
My friend Liz Andino talks a lot about anxiety, margin and health on her Instagram account and I could not agree with her more. When we eat well, we feel well. When we exercise, we have more energy. And when we do both of these things we sleep well.
A few years ago my doctor told me that good sleep begets good sleep, and one or two rough nights can really hinder your days! I’ll talk more about my sleep routine on the blog next week, but the biggest factor is going to bed at a decent time and waking up when the alarm goes off!
PUT DOWN your PHONE
In order to be present, we can’t be somewhere we're not.
Seems pretty logical, right? But when I pick up the phone that is exactly what I'm doing. I'm at the office, at school, not at that party with my friends. This is a habit I must break in order to truly create margin.
Y'all, we have to stop being on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. It's an atmosphere for disaster in our relationships, marriages and our families.
MAKE TIME FOR YOURSELF EVERY DAY
What fills you up? Is it reading a book, listening to a podcast, or going for a walk? Is it eating a wonderful meal around the table, sitting in silence or watching a show on TV? Whatever it is - as long as it’s a healthy thing - make room for it in your day.
When we don't make time to do the things we love, we get burnt out and quick. That is not good for anyone, so be sure to be filling yourself up!
The bottom line for me is this : to have margin in my life, I must prepare to be present. With these four things, I am hoping to be better at it.