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A How-to: Achieving Balance by Creating Margin

“Without great solitude no serious work is possible.” -Pablo Picasso

Margin, specifically solitude, is the ability to step off the treadmill of life and just be. We as professionals rarely create the space we need to experience margin and solitude in our lives—and we might be missing out on tapping into our true genius when we don’t take time to power down. My best ideas and strategies often come at three in the morning when I am suddenly awake with a great idea, an entire talk, or strategic plan that I had been stewing on for weeks. This is no credit to me—I have not mastered achieving true balance in my life. My brain has to create it forcefully by awakening me in the middle of the night.

I learned just how bad I am at balance and creating margin as I have been working through the On the Move initiative’s curriculum on “Balance” (the theme for July in On the Move Monthly). I don’t know my limits, when to call it a day, and I often fail to find space to dream. If you are struggling with the same barriers to achieving balance, here are some strategies I will be putting into practice that I have learned so far this month.

Ideas for more margin from On the Move Monthly:

  1. Identify what’s important: After you’ve had the opportunity to look over a typical weekly schedule, identify what is important to you. Ask yourself, “How can I plan, prepare and prevent unnecessary stress?” “How can I create margin (time to rest, rejuvenate, sleep, play, plan and prepare) in my week for these priorities?” Dr. Steven Covey, author of the best-selling book, Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, has one of the best strategies to help prioritize what’s important in your life. For more information check out this video.
  2. Draft your ideal week: Once you’ve identified what is important, create an ideal week. Much like a financial budget, create a calendar noting how you’d like to spend this time. Be sure to note “margin” as a key element in your days and week. For example, schedule what’s important-prayer, meditation, exercise, time with partner, kids, work planning or goal setting.
  3. Plan margin in your week/day: Before the week begins, sit down on a Saturday or Sunday and plan your week out. Be sure to create “margin” for yourself for each day. Determine the day, time and activity you can schedule to help you recharge your batteries, and schedule an appointment with yourself.
  4. Practice Lombardi Time: The legendary Hall of Fame Green Bay Packer coach Vince Lombardi had a rule of life for his players and coaches. If a meeting was scheduled at 8:00 AM, players and coaches knew they were expected to be there at 7:45 AM or they were late! Coach Lombardi teaches us a wonderful life lesson in “margin” by creating the habit of arriving 15 minutes before your scheduled appointment, meeting, or event. This allows you create space to breathe, pray, reflect, mentally prepare, meditate, jot down important questions or thoughts, and prepare yourself to be as present and effective as you possibly can.

Sara Rauch, Director of Strategy & Planning