Most people have very little or no time margin in their lives. It is very common to hear people talk of having no time, lack of time, not enough time or being out of time. Trying to get more time, we borrow time only to incur a time debt and end up with less time.
But we are not helpless. The clock can be resisted. Time margin can be taken back.
7 ways to restore time margin in your life:
(taken from chapter 9 “Margin in Time” in Richard Swenson’s book “Margin” pages 122-128. In the chapter Swenson shares 16 ways. I have only chose 7 of them to share)
1. Expect the unexpected
A proverb in Ecuador states: “Everything takes longer than it does.” This is not a perfect world and the unexpected happens. To plan for the unexpected is not an invitation to sloppiness or mediocrity but instead a concession to reality. If you want some breathing room, increase your margin of error.
2. Learn to say “No”.
Saying “No” is not just a good idea – it is now become a mathematical necessity. Without this two-letter word, I doubt that regaining margin is possible. If there are fifteen good things to do today and you can do only ten of them, you will need to say “No” five times. This is not rocket science but instead kindergarten logic. Yet saying “No” for most of us is enormously difficult.
3. Turn off the television.
As long as you are saying “No”, say it to your television set. For the average adult, this would gain twenty to thirty hours a week. No other single effort will secure as much time margin as this simple, nearly impossible action.
4. Prune the activity branches.
Even though it is counterintuitive, if one wants a healthy tree with better fruit they need to prune away branches. In the same way, activities and commitments often have a way of adding themselves to our lives. Even though it is much harder to stop something than to start it, periodically, get out the clippers and prune away.
5. Practice simplicity and contentment.
We call consume significant quantities of time in the buying and then maintaining of things. A life of voluntary simplicity and contentment, on the other hand, is opposed to the unnecessary proliferation of material possessions. It is free of the clutter much of society must sort through on a daily basis. With fewer possessions, we do not have as may things to take care of. With a simpler wardrobe, our choice of what to wear each morning becomes less time-consuming. With a smaller estate,there will be less debt bondage in our work schedule.
6. Separate time from technology.
The best thing to remember about time-saving technologies is that they don’t. Instead, they consume, compress and devour time. All the countries with the most time-saving technologies are the most stressed-out countries – an assertion that’s easy to prove.
Remembering, that technology is responsible for much of our time famine, it is good to go on strike occasionally. Try disconnecting from clocks, watches, alarms, beepers, telephones, and e-mail for a day, a weekend or a week. Find the off switch. Don’t answer the telephone. Stop giving people the number to your cell-phone and instead use it to make calls rather than receive calls.
7. Create buffer zones.
If you have a busy schedule with non-stop appointments, consider creating small buffer zones between some of the obligations, a kind of coffee break for the spirit. Even ten or fifteen minutes can allow you to catch up, take a deep breath, close your eyes, pray, call your spouse, reorient your priorities and diffuse your tension.
How do you restore time margin in your life?