How to Preserve Margin Time in Your Life

Michael Hyatt released a post this week titled “How To Create More Margin In Your Life.”  Margin is, in essence, the extra time in your day.  This margin is the amount of time beyond what is needed.  An example would be a 1 hour meeting that only needs 45 minutes.  There is 15 minutes of margin.

preserve margin

I learned about this margin not too long ago.  I began keeping a calendar of all my daily activities.  I used a schedule to prioritize the order in which I would achieve these activities.  My assumption was that I had 24 hours in a day and could allot, to the minute, how much time I would need to get things done.  So I filled up my 24 hours.  I quickly found out that some activities took longer, some took less, and others were perfectly timed out.

The result of my experiment was that more often than not I experienced two problems.  The first problem was that there were more activities taking up more than the alotted amount of time, than there were activities that taking up less.  I was thus overloaded.  The second problem was the inevitable interruption.  We never know what will happen in any given day.  We must be flexible.

The idea of Margin is what allows us this flexibility.  But this margin creates a whole new problem.  How do you preserve your margin?  Once you’ve read Michael’s post you’ll understand how to build Margin into your week, but how do you keep it from always being filled?

  1. Flex Time – You’ll see in My Schedule an hour chunk of “Flex Time.”  Think of one of those double busses.  The busses that are basically two busses stuck to each other.  There is a rubber middle section.  This section is the flex.  When everything is runny smooth, this section is available.  But when life takes a hard turn, you need this section to absorb the blow.
  2. Scheduled Rest – I prefer to rest at least once per day and once per week.  My daily rests are very short, 15 minutes here or there.  This is usually a quick nap after lunch.  My weekly rest however is usually longer and includes a hobby. This is just time to enjoy myself and not worr about the day.  These items are actually scheduled and are not negotiable.  Put it on your calendar!
  3. Full Reset – Plan one week off per quarter if you can.  I typically take 3 days plus a weekend.  We get away, turn off the phones and get a full reset.  This is critical for the system.
  4. 50/10 – For every 50 minutes of work, allot 10 minutes of rest.  If an activity is going to take me 45 minutes, I’ll allot 55.  This gives me a small margin for everything I do.  It’s like the space between wires on a coil.  It allows the coil to be flexible.
  5. Decompression – Finally, decompress between large activities.  My schedule actually shows 30 minutes for this.  It’s often 15.  I sit in complete silence and just switch gears for a minute.  I find that the time between work and home is the best time to switch gears.
Having Margin in your daily activities is key to preventing burnout and maintaining an extreamly high level of output.  Try reading Michael’s post and implementing his plan.  While you’re reading take note of the feature image then check out mine.  It’s like the guy jumped up and went to do something besides relax.  I thought it was funny, but I have a weird sense of humor.  After you’ve read his post, check back here and make sure you safeguard your margins.


Question:  What do you do when it’s time to switch gears between work and home?

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