I just finished a coaching conversation with a dear client of mine, Kate, who feels like she is always living in survival mode. She struggles with the fact that she is always running from thing to thing, swooping in to her work appointments in the knick of time, showing up late for kids’ games, and sacrificing her own self-care to fit it all in. She tends to overcommit and therefore spends time rearranging her day to find daycare, print out the last minute papers she needs for meetings, and do a wardrobe change — all for what? Even if she can fit it all in, she is drained and feels like she is failing at keeping things afloat.
What bothers her are a few key things:
- Showing up frazzled to her work meetings and kids’ activities
- Not feeling prepared and usually rolling in 5 minutes late
- Running like her hair is on fire because she lives reactively
- Sacrificing key relationships and responsibilities
- Not being able to say no
- Knowing she can’t keep this pace up much longer
Now I could go in several different directions here for ways to improve Kate’s situation. But I’ll stick with one simple tip that is already starting to transform Kate’s days — and could be a game changer for your as well. She has discovered that her super power to having a smooth flowing day is….to allow for margin her your schedule.
Ok, maybe that doesn’t seem like a super power to you right now. But margin is saving Kate’s days and transforming her state of mind.
Margin means PLANNING SPACE in your day.
Margin means planning for space in order to transition from one task or appointment to the next. You can’t finish a Zoom call at 12pm and start your workout at 12pm. You can’t wrap up a work project at 3p and be getting in your vehicle to go pick up the kids at 3p. You need to schedule (plan) time to transition. There wont be space between tasks if you don’t plan for it.
Margin means ALLOWING SPACE for plans to change.
When plans inevitably change — say you forgot you were responsible for snack day, or you spilled on your shirt walking out the door, or you simply get stuck in traffic – the margin you’ve built in will help save your day. And margin will keep you from feeling like you’re in survival mode and allow you time to get back on track and reset when things don’t go as planned.
How do you create Margin in your life?
Creating margin takes discipline. You’re tempted to fill in the white space you see on the calendar by saying “yes” to the next ask, but that margin is essential to be sure your day goes smoothly. (And your mental stability is on track. We all have better attitudes when we aren’t behind or rushed.)
Margin is your Safety Bumper
Think of your schedule as your vehicle and margin as the bumper. You purchased them together, already attached. The bumper is there for your safety and protection, and when you have to use it, you’re so thankful it’s there! This is the same as margin in your calendar. Margin should be attached to your tasks like a bumper is to a vehicle. It protects your tasks and schedule. And it protects the driver!
So don’t pack your schedule too tightly – PLAN for transitional time. Be realistic and give a 10-15 buffer between tasks. Be realistic in what it takes to transition from one appointment to the next. Learn how long it really takes you to get out of the house when it’s time to leave and how long it takes you to prep for your weekly board meeting. Time yourself and become aware.
When you are balancing work, home, meals, kids, volunteer work, and a million other things — margin is your secret tool and super power! Margin takes discipline and forethought, and it will be one small thing you can change in how you plan your day that will make a tremendous difference. Starting today.
Remember: your bumper is attached to your vehicle — you usually don’t think about the bumper when you’re driving in your vehicle, but when you’re spinning out of control, it can be a life saver. And so can margin.
What could margin do for your day to day planning? If you need help finding the best ways stop living in survival mode, Michelle is an expert at helping you find solutions that work so you can live a productive and balanced lifestyle. Schedule a free 15 minute strategy session with her now! HERE