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What is “margin?”
Webster’s dictionary defines margin as, in part, “a spare amount or measure or degree allowed or given for contingencies or special situations; a bare minimum below which or an extreme limit beyond which something becomes impossible or is no longer desirable.”
21st Century Americans are not so good at leaving margin in our schedules, are we? The message we hear from society is that if we don’t have a full calendar, we are not fully participating in life, and what’s worse, that we are either boring or lazy.
As per usual, I beg to differ, and here’s why…
I believe that building margin into your daily schedule is not only smart, but can bring very positive and palpable changes to your family life! I am a huge fan of “down time.” In our family, “down time” or “margin” is time at home that is completely and totally unscheduled and free of responsibilities, when each family member can regroup from the rest of the day’s activities in their preferred way (reading, watching TV, taking a walk, being creative, etc.).
We find that when we are constantly on the go, our energy wanes and oftentimes, our attitudes do, too!
Building margin in our days means saying no to certain invitations or opportunities, along the lines of choosing between good, better, and best. It means being able to say “yes” to opportunities to help and serve others!
Here are some tips to implement this mindful method of time management:
Try to plan your family’s schedule to allow for all members of your family to be home at the same time at least once a day. Today’s modern family oftentimes has the parents going one direction and the kids going another. By planning to eat or relax together (at least under the same roof) several times during the week, a family touches home base and recharges for future activities together!
Ah, social media. Just because this wealth of information’s readily available 24/7, doesn’t mean you have to passively read it and respond immediately. Consider turning off your smart phone notifications: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Texts, Emails, etc. These notifications feed you more information than you need and take you away from being fully present in the moment. Set aside certain times during your day to intentionally check your social media platforms and decide if anything is urgent enough to comment or reply to. Don’t let social media interrupt the flow of your day! You’ll be surprised at how much time this simple step can add back to your schedule!
Just Say No!
This is a very important life skill to implement as adults, but to also teach our kids as they are being raised in a “busy” world. Just because an invitation or opportunity presents itself, doesn’t mean we have to go! It’s too easy to run ourselves ragged by over committing our schedules. Whether it’s a touch of “Fear Of Missing Out” (FOMO, as the kids say…), or our sincere desire to please people, we have a tendency to R.S.V.P. to any and everything without taking the time to consider how the time commitment will impact our family’s general disposition.
There are times when we’re called upon to help and serve others. It’s important to have some margin in our schedules so we can feel free to lend a hand!
Would your life be any different if you were to build in some margin?
“Conduct yourselves wisely toward outsiders, making the most of the time.” Colossians 4:5
Gracia y paz,
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