Creating Margin on the Fly for Work Life Balance

Things don’t always go as planned, and even when they do, there are times in our lives when we need to create margin.

Richard Swenson, M.D. describes margin in his book Margin: Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial, and Time Reserves to Overloaded Lives as follows:

Margin is the space between our load and our limits. It is the amount allowed beyond that which is needed. It is something held in reserve for contingencies or unanticipated situations. Margin is the gap between rest and exhaustion, the space between breathing freely and suffocating.

If you’ve been paying attention, you have noticed that my blog has been a bit quiet lately.  Simply put, by ramping down my blogging, podcast (yikes, after only one episode), and social media efforts, I was able to create just enough extra time to keep my head above water over the past two weeks.

While my efforts in the blogosphere are pretty high on my priority list, I have found myself at total peace with my decision.  Instead of stressing out about my lack of involvement, I persevered in those areas that were taking up extra time, knowing that I was making the right life choices.

How did the decision come so easily?

Simply put, I knew what my priorities were.  The value was in the planning process, not the plan itself.  Life doesn’t go by the plan, but, when it throws you a curve ball, you know how to react if you have been deliberate in putting the plan together.  Having just worked through my annual life plan, I was prepared to make the tough decisions and find peace.

My faith life, taking care of myself, and family are my top priorities.  My career comes next, and 3Pillar is at the top of that list.  Over the past couple of months I’ve had to double down on efforts at 3Pillar as we executed some organizational changes, finalized our annual plan, and incorporated all of that into our 2014 budget.

With all these things going on at once, I had to double down on my efforts to ensure that I kept my priorities straight.  This meant cutting social media efforts, charity participation, and even some time with friends.

For the first time in my life as a professional, I actually succeeded in a time of extreme busyness and stress.  I held true to my daily prayer, maintained a reasonable sleep schedule, and spent dedicated time with my wife and kids, all while regularly working 10 and 12 hour (and sometimes even longer) days.

Why was I successful? Because my plan was intentional.  I knew what to cut and what not to cut.

If you haven’t been intentional about the priorities for work life balance in your own life, I recommend that you get serious about it (I used Michael Hyatt’s “Life Plan” eBook as a guide and found it very useful).  By doing so, you’ll be able to create margin on the fly, like I was able to do.


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