Margin is the opposite of overload. If we are overloaded we have no margin.
A month ago, I was feeling good about the direction I was heading with my life. Little did I know that within a week of me hitting the publish button on Looking Forward to 2018 my work life would change dramatically. My workload tripled overnight. Not necessarily a bad change, but it was quite dramatic.
Over the past four weeks, I’ve been quite busy with work and trying to squeeze in things when I can. With the limited time I had available it meant pushing some things to the side, including my writing. I’m a little disappointed that I wasn’t able to maintain the writing goals I had set out, but at the same time, I feel content.
I don’t feel completely exhausted from the work, and don’t feel like I’m losing who I am through it. I am tired at times, yes, but not burnt out. I believe part of the reason for this is by creating the margin for myself to operate in. I had already pared back some of my viewing habits in the previous months to create some space in order to create; now, I am using that space to continue doing the work.
I’m beginning to understand how margin affects my life. I have some time to work with and try to use that time the best I can to be productive or creative. I don’t need to try and do everything completely or even a bit of everything. I have been feeling good by completing a few tasks during that time and leaving the rest for another day.
During the latest episode of Fits + Starts, I listened to the hosts discuss time. One of the hosts discussed how he treats time in quite a different way. For most people, time is a limited resource. There are only so many hours in a day, so many days in a lifetime. Most people want to spend more time doing things they enjoy and that will lead to better experiences.
This host approaches it in a different way where time doesn’t create value, you create your own value in that time. Binge watching a show on Netflix may make you feel a wave of emotions, but you also spent six hours doing it. You could generate those same emotions by watching one Olympic event or a shorter movie. Investing more time into something doesn’t necessarily enhance the experience. In most cases, the reward at the end may be seen as less significant.
Because of the limited free time I have, I have been trying to do things that generate more satisfaction when they are done. Watching higher quality programming, or digging into good books instead of browsing online for example. I generally devote more time into my writing by refining things multiple times or taking more time to think and research. I’m not able to string multiple days in a row to focus on one project now. Instead, I’m going to try and create the best I can in the time I have available.
The main thing will be maintaining that margin and not shortening it by trying to do too much each day. Burning myself out will be the last thing I need in my life right now. Keep that space for myself and use it the best I can on a daily basis.