The one thing every human being has in common is 24 hours in a day. Not a minute more, and not a minute less. So why is it that some people seem to live so healthy and balanced with those hours, and some look dazed and confused like they’ve just been through a spin cycle?
That’s right, those who tend to thrive in life have learned the art and discipline of making margin (free space) for creativity of thought and flexibility of schedule.
You may protest “But I have an important job” or “I am a business owner” or “I have young kids.” All of these factors ramp up the energy you need to perform at high capacity. And you can only perform at high capacity if you have margin. Bill Gates is an avid reader, Warren Buffett plays the ukelele, and Sheryl Sandberg leaves the office by 5:30 each day. These three are very successful leaders in great demand.
In an effort to make better use of my time and to be more productive, here are some things that I do to make margin in my day.
One of my professors said that often the most spiritual thing we can do is sleep. When I am not well rested I am unproductive. It takes me longer to do even the most mundane tasks, my mind wanders and my creativity is non-existent. The simple fix? Go to bed earlier. If you can’t sleep, read. Just stay away from screens (tv, phone or iPad). They have been proven to inhibit sleep.
You may have convinced yourself that you are not an early riser. It’s simply not true. You have trained yourself to stay up late and to sleep in. Any habit can be changed. Set your alarm and wake up before anyone else. It’s amazing what you will accomplish when things are quiet. And you will have time to think, meditate, pray, read or simply enjoy a cup of coffee. By 9 am you will have accomplished more than many people do by noon. And that feels good and brings energy to your day!
If you don’t have time to make it to your daughter’s dance recital or to meet with a close friend, you likely don’t have time to binge watch Stranger Things on Netflix or be on Facebook/Instagram/Twitter/Pinterest etc. for hours on end. I dare you to write down the amount of time you spend on media in a week. It may floor you. Binge media leads to late nights, later mornings and unproductive days. Then you will have no margin in your life. Creativity drops. Relationships falter. Your mood tanks. So you need to spend more time on Netflix to make yourself feel better in the evening. The cycle continues. Get the picture?
These three tips to make more margin in life are not rocket science, but they work. Every time.
You may protest that there is no possible way for you to give more or trim the fat out of your schedule. You are maxed out. Commander Rorke Denver perfectly illustrated the fact that we all have more to give when he had the audience of Leadercast 2015 stand to their feet and reach as high as they could. Then he said, “Reach a little bit higher.” Ironically everyone was able to reach another inch or so. His point? We always leave a little in the tank. We always have a more to give.
I don’t want to be maxed out in my life. I want to have margin for creativity, relationships and true rejuvenation. In order to do this, I need to realize that not only do I have more to give, I have more I can give up.
You have 24 hours today. That’s more than enough time for greatness.