Are Your Margins Wide Enough?

I start my car and check the fuel gauge. It’s been awhile since I’ve filled up. But I won’t get gas today.

Because the tank is already full.

Jeff must have filled it up for me yesterday. He’s considerate like that.

Like gas tanks, there are some things I like to keep filled up.

  • Bank account
  • Refrigerator
  • Family time

But my schedule?

No, thank you. I don’t want my schedule full.

“If we were equipped with a flashing light
to indicate ‘100 percent full,’
we could better gauge our capacities.

But we don’t have such an indicator light,
and we don’t know when we have overextended
until we feel the pain.”
~ Richard Swenson, Margin

How do you know when you’ve reached your limit?

  • An unexpected outburst over something small?
  • Less energy to do once-fun things?
  • A desire to stay in bed later than planned?

I’ve been tired lately. Not from overscheduling on the outside, but maybe from trying so hard on the inside.

I need to unplug a bit more. A little less of this, a little less of that.

Leave more room in the margins.

“Many people commit to a 120 percent life
and wonder why the burden feels so heavy.

It is rare to see a life prescheduled to only 80 percent,
leaving a margin for responding
to the unexpected that God sends our way.”

I’ll keep the plans I’ve already made. But I’ll try not to add much new. I want to keep my margins wide.

I breathe easier with holes in my schedule.

Do you function best with a tightly packed schedule? Or with wide margins?

Share your thoughts in the comments.

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18 thoughts on “Are Your Margins Wide Enough?

  1. Barbara Harper

    I cannot function with a too-full schedule. I used to–I don’t know if it’s aging or accumulated stress or having more to do that makes it difficult now. It’s hard because there are so many good and enjoyable things I’d like to do. We need wisdom to make the best choices in order to have time to think and to be in-between all the doing.

  2. Mary Geisen

    I function better with room in my schedule. I love sow mornings to spend time with God before I go about my day. I definitely relate to everything you said above. I hope you had a wonderful Easter!

  3. Donna

    Excellent, Lisa. Margins are something I can easily overlook, until that “unexpected outburst” reminds me I have none.
    But I am learning to plan my margins as carefully as I plan my events!

  4. Donna Reidland

    Lisa, this is convicting because I know my margins are never wide enough. It’s something my husband talks about a lot. He’s better at it in some ways than I am. But he would say I’m a little better at it in other ways. But it’s something we both need to work on.

  5. Esmé Slabbert

    This is so true in today’s rushed pace, We tend to take on more and more and I find it difficult to say “No” but need to relearn that word and create more open space in those margins.
    Visited you via Thinking Out Loud Thursday
    If interested, please hop over and come and share your posts with us at Senior Salon Pit Stop. See my entries: #15+16… and navigate to the bottom of my page for SSPS linkup, we hope to virtually meet you there.

  6. Jean Wise

    I know I certainly feel better and have more peace and joy with more white space in my life. I like your image of margins too.

  7. Linda Stoll

    thanks for this, Lisa. i need huge swaths of white space and generous margins in my life to operate well and with joy. you’re speaking my language, friend! and i appreciate Richard Swenson’s book so much. good stuff.

  8. David

    Completely agree. A time management book I read once said something like “only schedule 3/4 of your day”. I have tried to live by that ever since. There are generally plenty of “matters arising” to fill in the other 1/4.

    Your post reminds me of those repeated admonitions in the Torah (Leviticus maybe?) not to harvest up to the edges of your crop fields, always leave some for the orphan, the widow, the stranger. We should leave some of our time for these orphans, widows, and strangers too (especially internal ones).

    Your post also reminds me of an old hacker saying I like: necessity might be the mother of invention, but laziness is definitely the father.

  9. Tea With Jennifer

    I simply can’t have a full schedule anymore, my margins are wide open now, they have to be, with chronic health issues.
    Although I can even over do it with a simple walk! I know I’ve over done it when my inner being starts to shiver (a phenomena in Fibromyalgia).
    Blessings, Jennifer

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