” You always have time for the things you put first”
– Author Unknown
What does it mean to “make margin for what matters”? Let’s break it down. When you think of the word margin you may think of the edge of a document, or perhaps you think the difference between sales and cost to produce something. Either way, we are talking about space. There is protected space on the edge of a document. There is room between the cost to make an opportunity to sell.
What I see is an opportunity to make margin aka create space for what matters. The next thing to figure out is what matters? Now before you jump into the rabbit hole of self-reflection, let me share what matters to me and how I maintain this space daily. Perhaps after seeing my approach, it will give you some ideas on how to make room for it in your own life.
What truly matters to me. Family (immediate, extended, or selected; also known as my tribe), Friends (new, old, and in-between), and Freedom physical, mental, and financial). A very important element to me, that I include under Freedom is freedom from regret or at least work to minimize the opportunity for regret. Now, before everyone strips down to streak the quad screaming “carpe diem!” I want to be clear. Being regret-free does not give you permission to abandon your commitments or responsibilities in the name of living your best life. While that feels super liberating and exhilarating, it isn’t sustainable. What I am trying to say is that over time with focus you can build it, and build it and build it last.
I did not always have such clarity on what was important to me. This has been a work in progress. Between the loss of my mom in 2008 and the loss of Jayson in 2015, enough was enough. The message that life is short, special, and a gift that I have a decent amount of control over, was not lost on me. However, for me to truly engage with the people and activities that brought me joy, I had to build a life that would make it a priority every day.
Now I don’t think we have enough room in this blog post to break down what matters most for everyone. I do however want to show you my active practice of keeping the things that matter to me top of mind every day. I am a list maker, which I am sure many of you are. Lists are great for the grocery store because you plan on getting everything on that list. However, there is no way I am getting everything done on my lists daily. It is important to prioritize. So this is what I do to them. I prioritize based on impact and category ( I call these buckets).
Each bucket requires attention because they are important to me. As someone who tends to be a workaholic, I need to keep myself accountable. I do this by placing my friends and family on an even playing field as my work. I won’t allow myself to look back and regret not spending more time with loved ones. I have my list, I have my buckets, and now I pull items from the list and organize them under the bucket based on impact. The last step is to take action and schedule it! You can’t just find time for these things. You have to make time for them. What time of day am I going to get this done? Here is an example of my personal buckets.
- Commitments: Work + Home Projects ( this does not include meetings or appointments, that time in your day has already been spoken for. I only include tasks that I need to create or produce.) * Pro Tip: I time block when I respond to emails, it isn’t on-going.
- Self: Exercise, Nature Time, Listening to Music, Reading or Podcasts
- Tribe: Friends and Family, 1:1 time, scheduling dinners, random hello’s, zoom calls.
- Joy: What gift, value, or awesome moment came from today
Maybe this works for you. Maybe you find that you don’t have enough time in the day to even create a schedule. Maybe that is the a-ha moment you have been waiting for? Nothing get’s on your calendar without you accepting it. Full disclaimer, I have good days and bad days. That is real, the point is that I know what I need to do to get back on track.
It is interesting, I think during these unusual days where we are all homebound due to Covid-19, we are learning a lot more about what makes us tick and what is important. It is moments like these that make a perfect time to transition and redirect the intent for your life and how you show up for the people you care about. So give it some thought. Reach out if you have any questions, and I hope this encourages you to create margin for what matters to you! – Megan