Manage Your Margin

Editor’s Note: The following is an excerpt from David Welday’s most recent book, The A Factor: 52 Keys to a Winning Attitude (HigherLife Publishing). It is available for purchase from Amazon.

As a publisher, I review books from a variety of perspectives. One perspective is, how does the book look? Not just the front cover, mind you, but how inviting is the interior design? One thing that is a turn-off to me is if the book has narrow margins. If you picked up a book and the words filled the entire page from top to bottom, right to left, chances are, you would not want to read that book. It’s simply too crowded. There is no margin. It feels overwhelming, daunting.

In many ways, our lives are like the pages of a book. We can fill up our days, our weeks, our months with so much activity, so much busyness, that we no longer have any margin. When that happens, we get stressed out, even sick. We lose our joy. We make more mistakes. Perhaps the biggest loss is that we miss out on new opportunities: last-minute tickets to a ballgame, an unexpected visit from a long-time friend who pops into town, a chance to meet with an influential prospective client, or the opportunity to comfort a friend who is hurting and needs some time with us.

We need margin in our lives. We need time to recharge, space to re-energize, and room to breathe.

Yes, I know that taking time for a walk, to pause and pray, to watch a movie, to take a nap, or to just wander the house and think, seems horribly inefficient. But failing to create margin in your life is even more inefficient. We need margin. A painting or a promotion that is filled with too much clutter, too many words, too much design, too much “stuff” is not attractive. Designers know that the artful use of “white space” is important. Musicians know that good music composition needs rests—those blank spaces on the sheet music where no notes are played or sung.

Look at your schedule. Other than the time when you are sawing logs, where is your margin? Where are your spaces and places of rest and recharging? Where are the planned holes in your calendar that can either stay vacant or be used to take advantage of an unexpected opportunity that might come up? If you had to eliminate one thing from your calendar, what would it be? Take something off the board and add that space as margin to help you recharge.

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