Margin Matters: 5 Ways to Create Space in Your Life
Stephen Covey writes, “The key is not spending time but investing it.”
In my experience, some of the most popular phrases I here are: “I’m too busy!” and “I wish I had time for that…” “I wish I had the time.” We all come from different places, but the most common thing we all have is time. It is extremely limited, moves to fast, and we will never get it back. I am no different! I am a husband, father of two, I work two jobs, volunteer in my church, visit my extended family, and somehow am finishing my Master’s Degree. People ask me how can I balance my work load and personal life. I am not perfect, but I have found some ways to create margin in my life. I found 5 ways to create space in my life to be effective:
- Prioritize: We give our time, talent, and treasure towards what/whom we desire. Many of us are busy, and we are busy just to be busy! Prioritizing by importance, deadline, and value can create margin in your life by simply eliminating distraction. We can prioritize things in every area of life.
- Scheduling: This is probably preaching to the choir to my Type A people, but there is truth to scheduling your time. We create space by being intentional and honoring our commitments. Do not think scheduling is limited to meetings, events, or trips. Schedule quiet time, critical thinking time, and time to learn. Leaders are learners, and scheduling time to learn and think critically can greatly impact your work. Scheduling time to rest might sound odd, but it promotes the discipline of scheduling and intentional time to rest.
- Learn to Say No, so You Can Say Yes: I don’t know about you, but I often have a hard time saying no. I have been taught that when we agree to something, we are also saying no to other things. For example, If I say yes to a good business opportunity I am saying no to family or a greater business opportunity. In terms of margin, it is good to learn to say no when you can so you have the margin or freedom to yes to greater things. It is not always easy to make this decision, but overtime you have more and more opportunities to say no.
- Focus on What Matters: We all have things we have to do, and after we learn how to prioritize, we can focus on the work that matters and get it done. Whether this is work, relationships, your faith, or relaxation, we must focus on what matters most in life. There are times in my life where I turn down career opportunities to spend more time with family. Many of my friends in the military made sacrifices to serve their country. No matter what type of job you have, we all have the ability to creatively find ways to focus our time, energy, and attention on what or who matters most.
- Empower Others: Delegate, delegate, delegate. You will be surprised how equipping and empowering others will help create margin in your life. The more you can train, lead, and delegate to others can create space in your schedule to focus on what matters. There are some duties you might not want to delegate, but learn how to go farther and faster together.
Margin matters. We need rest, time for creative and effective work, and the freedom to say no so we can say yes. We never get time back. Our investment of our time is probably the most valuable thing we have. Don’t waste it!
Written by Jonathan Rector
Executive Leadership & Life Coach