3 ways to build margin into our lives

June 28, 2013

build margin

I find myself in a season of life where I have not left myself much margin and I am paying for it.  I wish I could say that this is the first time but it is not.  This is becoming a pattern that I need to change.

When I don’t leave any margin in my life I find myself exhausted all the time.

I become more irritable at home with my wife and kids.

I begin to lose my passion and joy.

Life just becomes about making it through the day.

I don’t like feeling this way and I know that I am the only person who can change this.

3 ways to build margin into our lives:

I know that I still have a lot to learn when it comes to building margin into my life but here are 3 ways that resonate with me.

1. Delegate.

This has always been a weakness for me.  There are so many things that I do that can be done by others. A lot of times we don’t delegate because we haven’t given ourselves enough time to plan what needs to be done.  We need to give ourselves sufficient time to accomplish tasks so that we can involve others in the process.

2. Prioritize. 

It is so easy to get caught up in the tyranny of the urgent rather than focusing on the most important things.  As I said in the previous point, we need to give ourselves sufficient time to accomplish tasks.  In order to do this, we need to prioritize.  There are always going to be things that have to be done.  Our job is to decide which things need our attention immediately and which things can be done at a later time.

3. Rest.

This is something that we need to be doing regularly.  It is critical to build times of rest into our lives.  We need to set aside one day a week to refresh ourselves physically, emotionally and spiritually.  We also need to prioritize times of rest into every day too.  Take your coffee and lunch breaks.  Don’t bring your work home.  Go for a walk after supper.

build margin

Do you struggle with building margin into your life?  How do you build margin into your life?

***** A book that I highly recommend on this subject: Leading on Empty: Refilling Your Tank and Renewing Your Passion

Kevin Martineau

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I am the Pastor at Port Hardy Baptist Church on Northern Vancouver Island, British Columbia. I am married to my best friend and I have three beautiful daughters.

30 responses to 3 ways to build margin into our lives

  1. Yes, I've been seriously working on this too. The Sabbath idea is fantastic. Also, just setting limits on things, accepting "good enough"… like I commit to only working on something for an hour and half and then stop regardless of whether it's finished or not.

    It's amazing how much disciple it takes to actually stop doing stuff.

    -Marshall Jones Jr.

  2. I can completely relate. I agree too about delegating. It must be done, but there has to be proper time and consideration put into it. I've done it wrong before and it's my fault that people failed and/or I failed at a task/project. Great advice here. Thanks.
    My recent post 6 Ideas for Maintaining Excitement

  3. It's sooo easy to get into this space. I would add a couple more tidbits …Simplify, and learn how to say 'no' . Every now and again, I'll reevaluate my email subscriptions, etc to see where I may be able to further simplify and remove distractions. If you do give enough time for tasks as you discuss above, perhaps that is an automatic door to learning how to say 'no' but there are times when it isn't so easy to do.

  4. Oh, how I needed this when I had my previous job. The problem is when I get tired I´m weak and that little creature of a satan knows all that. He bothered me many times when I was knocked out. I remember I worked from 7.30 in the morning till 11.30 in the evening and go straight to bed. Was not aware what was going on in my social life and family. One night when I got into my bed I felt something in my head but I was so tired I couldn´t stay awake and say a prayer. I mumbled something. I was afraid not to wake up in the morning. I did. But I started to have palpitations. My family, the doctor and friend all said `enough is enough`. I had to change. The doctor of the company told my manager this was wrong and unhealthy for me. Now, the best thing for me are my neighbours and a couple who are like my parents and mentors. They check on me. Especially my neighbours because they see everything. So when they ask me what I´m doing and find out it´s going wrong, uhuh, they push the alarmbutton and I have to change again. I´ve calmed down a bit. But there is something inside that makes me go again. I have to be careful.

  5. I agree completely. Delegating is awesome. My biggest job in my day is now seeing other people succeed as a result of me trusting them and supporting them. I used to think if I want something done right I should do it myself but I've learned I was completely wrong about that one! In fact, when I priorize delegating is when I get a chance to take sabbath rest.

  6. Hi Kevin,

    This is a great article. I am in need of ALL THREE right now!! "When the student is ready the teacher appears!!" Thank you for the gentle reminders…

    Laura Morris

  7. Having margin is huge! Saying no is my way of building margin when life is spiraling like a crazy loop, then saying yes to worship…that always slows me down. Great post bro'
    My recent post Disturbing Steps

  8. As I've gotten older I've learned to delegate pretty well. But I find that, as business owners, we tend to have this attitude of "if I want it done right, I have to do it myself." We all know it's not true, but sometimes it's just easier to do something than to try and teach someone else to do it. It has taken me a lot of years, and not delegating effectively, to get to the point of doing it fairly well.

    I also agree with Linnea, that learning to say "No" is imperative. We simply can't do everything that everyone wants us to do. Learning to prioritize the requests and gently but firmly declining the ones that don't fit your plan is so important.

    Keep up the great work. Keep prioritizing and delegating. You'll get your feet back on solid ground soon.

    Live with passion and purpose,
    Vanessa
    My recent post Life Lesson Learned

  9. Thanks for the great tips Kevin for creating some clear space in our lives. Sorting out these three areas would do wonders for our lives. Of the three, Delegation is probably the biggest bugbear with me.
    Am beginning to get my act together better with the Recreation and Prioritising aspects..thanks for the reminder..
    Johneal

  10. Valuable tips Ken, and though they seem simple, they are not. It is so easy to burn the candle at both ends as a way of life, especially when there are responsibilities we have that do not lend themselves to delegation. We have to find a way to provide margin in other areas. Thanks Ken
    My recent post Backlinks – Where- How- and Why

  11. Thanks for sharing Jason!
    My recent post What type of leader are you

  12. Great points Linnea! Learning to say "no" is another one of my weaknesses. :)

    Thanks for sharing!
    My recent post What type of leader are you

  13. Thanks for sharing Vanessa!
    My recent post What type of leader are you

  14. Thanks for sharing Mark! Looking forward to seeing you guys next week! :)
    My recent post What type of leader are you

  15. Thanks for sharing Laura!
    My recent post What type of leader are you

  16. Thanks for sharing Johneal!
    My recent post What type of leader are you

  17. Thanks for sharing Carolyn!
    My recent post What type of leader are you

  18. Thanks for sharing Marshall!
    My recent post What type of leader are you

  19. Hey Kevin! I love this post. My Pastor talked about something really similar recently saying that many of us leave no margins in our lives and can get completely overwhelmed if we have 0% margin because our lives are so full of "stuff" to do. This post is a great reminder and these tips are great. I need to be better about prioritizing things. Thanks for sharing this.
    My recent post A Cool Free Seo Tool For Your Blog Posts and Articles

  20. Faith Barista Bonnie July 23, 2010 at 4:42 pm

    This is continually in the forefront of my daily task : creating margin. If we don't stand up to it, it definitely takes the offensive position against us. It's the way it is. Like the tide of the ocean. Priorities is where I'm having to constantly re-allign. Thanks for the tip on the book… will look into that.
    My recent post Rewriting History — Going Off Script

  21. Thanks for sharing Angela!
    My recent post What type of leader are you

  22. Pat and Lorna Shanks July 28, 2010 at 1:15 am

    Kevin,

    Oh boy… do we know what you mean. It is so easy to get caught up in "doing" so much that it seems nothing actually gets done. We love our time together where we just get to be. Nothing to do, nowhere to go… just be.

    Thanks so much,
    ~ Pat and Lorna

  23. Thanks for sharing Pat and Lorna.
    My recent post We cant do life on our own

  24. I actually put “rest” on my calendar :O) Otherwise… I forget!

  25. You’re not the only one who go through such struggles. I, myself, am guilty of not being able to build that “margin” in my life. I can relate because I also experience venting it all out on my kids and other people at home. I get irritable and often lose patience. But I’m really working on it. It helps to plan ahead and make a list of things to do and rank them based on their importance. All the little things that can wait, would really have to wait or, as you said, be delegated. Most of our problems arise because we don’t see others as capable of doing the things we do. So we end up doing things on our own, thinking we can do them better. It’s best to learn to trust people and train them to be as competent and reliable in the things that we want them to do. That way, we empower them and we free ourselves from the menial details. Thank you for sharing.

  26. I know what you mean. I can relate because I also experience the same thing. It’s pretty hard to take “breaks” in this really fast-paced world. But at the end of the day, it’s really a matter of knowing and recognizing who should take the top places in our life — our family. Sadly, they’re the ones who mostly suffer from our lack of planning and organizing. Thank you for sharing the tips. I surely learned a lot.