By Kirk McCarley
Say the word “margin” and it triggers different connotations.
To those in the world of finance it is the money borrowed from a broker to purchase an investment and is the difference between the total value of the investment and the loan amount. Those who have battled cancer are relieved to learn that the margin is negative or clean when the pathologist finds no cancer cells at the edge of the tissue, suggesting that the cancer has been removed.
In typography, a margin is the area between the main content of a page and the page edges. The margin helps define where a line of text begins and ends. Applying this example to your life, what do your margins look like? If your days were to be compared to text on a paper are there headers and footers? Are your left and right margins well defined? Are there spaces between your paragraphs, are your sentences succinct and to the point, or do things tend to “run on?”
Even worse, are there red marks that not only harshly correct us, but intrude upon our productivity or happiness? And when that happens, how much does it throw us off our game?
If you were to compare your life to a typed page how would it appear? Is your career or home life cluttered and filled with red marker corrections? And, if true, how do you go about cleaning, erasing, and straightening?
We’ve seen examples of prolific writers experiencing the “bloc” and frustratingly crumpling and tossing reams of paper aside. What if, like them, we were able to start with a clean sheet? Reset. Take a walk, call a friend, have a short read? Examine your calendar. There’s not a calendar? Start one. Plan the elements of your day—make your bed, brush teeth, and set a tone with prayer, devotion time, meditation, or exercise; center your mind.
What is your system for prioritization? Are there essential tasks that demand focus and have you budgeted appropriate time for them? If it’s a professional meeting has the traffic at that time of day been factored in or a backup plan devised should internet connectivity be compromised? If it’s time with a friend in need or an ailing parent are you giving yourself an opportunity to debrief or de stress from that visit? Have you built in a chance to grab a bite and take care of yourself?
How have administrative tasks been factored? There is always an email to write or respond to, or a text to answer. Communications often take forethought and care, lest a miswrite or misspeak. Build that time into your margins.
At times, even the most selfless of activities can encroach upon our space. How many volunteer activities require your commitment? Further, might your involvement preclude someone else from the chance to participate, a “changing of the guard” so to speak?
We are each evolving. What is your level of curiosity that will help foster your continual growth and development and have you factored in time to expand your mind and pick up something new? Very importantly have you put your mind in condition to absorb that new information? Are you eating healthily and getting adequate rest?
There will be times in life when a “sprint” is necessary, but for the most part those of us blessed with many years will find life to be a marathon. In that race, those who assume a pace, one that allows them to meet their fullest capabilities will end up victors.
The military has developed a priority credo for soldiers—God, family, country, in that order. For years it’s been a sound approach. How does your schedule measure up?
With that, time now to respect my own margins.
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