Last week I started a two-part blog post on the importance of clearing “space” in our lives, a.k.a. creating margin. If you have not had a chance to read that post, I ask you to pause, jump to last week’s post, and read that before you continue. This will make much more sense if you do.
Okay, I’m glad you are back! Now to answer the question “HOW do we create margin in our lives?”
One thing I asked you to do at the end of last week’s post was to think about this concept of margin each day and increase your awareness of it in your life. Awareness is a vital first step in any important change we want to make in our lives. This past week I became aware of how little mental margin I had in my days. I was brain fried every single day after work. I need more mental margin. What areas did you become aware of? Where could you use more margin?
Next, we all need to ask the questions, “is margin important to me?” If it is not, having me or anyone else encourage you to prioritize it is not going to be enough. All of the changes or improvements you want to make in your life need to be done because you genuinely want to, not because others say you should. Now it might be important to then ask “should gaining margin be a priority to me?” If you find that it would benefit you and your loved ones, maybe learn more about it and it’s benefits. Learning about it may bring you to a place where it becomes important to you.
Once you have identified the areas you need more margin, and you have decided it is important to you, ask the question “What one area is most important for me to gain margin in?” This is an important question for the overachiever out there who get excited and want to change everything at once. Start with one area. Once you have gained margin in that area, you can always tackle another area. As I mentioned above, I am starting this week with trying to add more mental margin in my days. What area do you want to start with? Mental margin? Physical margin? Margin in your schedule? Margin at work? Whatever you decide, start with one.
Next ask “what is within my control to change to add margin and make the upcoming week better?” Part of the reason why I felt so overloaded mentally this past week was because I was having to juggle my job as well as learn my co-worker’s job while she is on vacation for two weeks. My hope is that this coming week will be a little bit easier since there will be less of a learning curve, but I also need to chill out a little bit more than I did last week. I allowed myself to get worked up and focused much of my attention on how HARD it was going to be. This week I am going to try to allow for more mental margin by relaxing and not worrying as much. What is within your control to change?
Another important thing to ask ourselves is “what can I delegate?” This is hard for many of us to do, but it is worth it! You know, we do not have to delegate big major things, giving away small things can add some time and space to our lives. I had a co-worker ask if she could help me in any way. One day, as I was wrapping up my day and planning out my next day, I wrote her name by a number of tasks that I could delegate to her. One task that I gave her only took about 15 minutes, but that was 15 minutes that freed me up. It felt good to mark the item, that I did not even do, off of my ‘to do” list. Take a look around and see what you can delegate.
And finally, focus on baby steps. Ask yourself today “what small steps can I take to create margin in my day and in my life?” My small baby step for this next week is to read a particular book every morning that helps me keep a positive and “can do” attitude. For me, this helps me keep the right perspective and not sweat the small stuff. What is your baby step for this upcoming week?
Gaining and keeping margin in our lives is an ongoing process, but one that is worth every bit of effort. Yes, there are time when life gets particularly busy, but those times need to be short-term. We simply cannot live our best if we are run ragged. It’s time to prioritize yourself and gain some margin. Everyone around you will benefit, and so will you!
Here’s to taking control and clearing some space in your life!