I've been thinking quite a bit this week about "margins". For those who know me, I absolutely love "to do" lists as they keep me on track and organized and allow me to accomplish much. At the end of every week, I take about 15 mins to reflect on the week gone by and prepare my calendar and to do lists for the upcoming week. With each of these items, the concept of "margin" can clearly be seen in the print out themselves. Allow me to explain...
As I look at my calendar for any given week, well over half of it will be booked up with regularly scheduled meetings and appointments. But on most weeks, you will also find two to three large blocks of time that are reserved for me. I usually call them "study times" or as one of my past administrative assistants fondly called it "Tim time." Now I understand that there is an incredible temptation to fill that time with an appointment or feel as though you need to justify what that "spare" time is really being used for. Yet, without some of those moments in my weekly calendar, I would be taking work home with me every night as there are some things that just need to get done on a weekly basis. I've also always wanted to keep an open door policy with my team and so there must be margin in my calendar to accommodate that.
As I look at my "to do" list, I am committed to keeping it to one sheet weekly. I am also committed to leaving plenty of space by having somewhat large margins and white space on the print out. I've learned to do this as I know that things will arise next week that I did not see coming which will need to be added to the to do list. If I fill the sheet with all kinds of unrealistic goals and leave no room for the "write ins" then I have lost margin and will soon burn out.
To be honest, I am still growing in this as I have a real tendency to over commit if I am not careful and yet God continues to teach me how to utilize simple practices to help me "redeem the time".
"Be very careful, then how you live - not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity because the days are evil." (Ephesians 5:16-17)