The Gift of Margin - 3 Ways to Get You Some

Curt Fowler

Thursday, February 13th, 2014

Margin in life is truly a gift and most of us have so little these days. Margin in our calendar gives us time to listen to a friend. Margin in our finances allows us to help a friend, or help ourselves. It is also keeps us out of debt and reduces stress.

A lot of us attribute this problem to the stress of modern day life. Too many distractions, too many things to do, but the problem has existed for a long time. Check out this story from Luke 10.

38 As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. 39 Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord's feet, listening to what he taught. 40 But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, "Lord, doesn't it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me."

41 But the Lord said to her, "My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! 42 There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her."

Even in Jesus' day people had more to do than they could get done in the day. They didn't have the internet or TV to distract them, but they didn't have the convenience of microwaves or dish washers either! When it comes to the essentials in life (food, water, companionship) we've got it a ton easier than they did. But we take all that time that we don't have to spend worrying about food and water and fill it with other "stuff" that just doesn't matter.

You need margin in your life. Once you get some, I promise you will never want to go without it again. So, here are 3 ways to get you some margin!

1. Schedule It - Schedule time for things that matter and quit allowing yourself to be interrupted! If you've scheduled dinner with your family, turn off your phone or ignore it. Don't have any electronics anywhere near the dinner table. Try reigniting the lost art of conversation! Work when you work, play when you play. Don't let the two overlap or you'll never enjoy or be very good at either.

2. Set Early Deadlines - There is nothing quite like running around with your hair on fire trying to get something done at the last minute. Doing things at the last minute causes weird things to happen in the cosmos. All of sudden your printer jams, your computer freezes and you get stuck in traffic with a flat tire!

Save yourself the pain and set an early deadline for the things that must get done. Don't just start early, set an early deadline or your project will expand to consume all the given time (Parkinson's Law). 

3. Say No - This includes saying no to good stuff. Yes, for you to be any good at anything you must say no to lots of things. Lots of great things that make you feel terrible to say no to, like community service and even volunteering at church. Face it, you are a very valuable resource and your skills are needed. People and causes will take as much of you as they can get.

Don't say no to everything, just be very careful about what you say yes to. Focus your energies where you have been called to serve and stick to it. You will do far greater good for the world focusing your energies where they need to be.

CAUTION: This is very difficult to do! I highly recommend an accountability partner to help. Whenever anyone asks you to do anything, let them know you will consider it and then run it by your accountability partner. My wife is mine. She knows that everything I volunteer for will take time away from her and the kids. They are my #1 priority on this earth and she does an excellent job of helping me say no.

Trust me on this one, you will love margin in your life and in your business. The peace, joy and happiness you will receive from creating margin is absolutely awesome. Start implementing these strategies today and you will see great results!

If you like this please forward it to a friend. You can also get more great info and join the conversation at our website.

About Curt Fowler

Curt Fowler is the President and Founder of Fowler & Company, a business advisory firm founded to help its clients maximize the value of their organizations. Curt is a Certified Public Accountant and earned his Masters in Accountancy from the University of Georgia. He also earned an MBA in Strategy and Entrepreneurship from the Kellogg School at Northwestern. He has spent 20 years studying and learning from some of the best businesses in America including Verizon, Sara Lee, Cox Communications and many more.