Ponderosa #4 - Margin of Time

I'm stealing an idea I recently heard Doug talk about: the importance of having margin of time. Margins of time are a created when you say "no" to an exciting idea, project, or responsibility, not because you don't have the time (there is always time!), but because you are choosing to maintain a schedule that has a margin of time in it.  The idea seems so simple, but I know personally I struggle with saying "no" when I know saying "yes" will advance my personal goals, our gym, or our finances, and I know I technically have the time. However, I know that every time I take on a new responsibility at work, my relationships and time at home are compromised because there are always unforeseen additional needs that cause me to compromise relationship-related commitments.  Also, when there is little to no margin of time, I tend to lose my cool more often, which leads me to taking it out on others, especially those closest to me. Fortunately, I am married to a strong woman--Sandy is quick to let me know, "Hey, don't come home and kick the dog because you are stressed out."  When I hear that, I know exactly what she means--she knows I am not reacting to her, but reacting to the stress I have created in my life.  Conversely, when there is just a little extra time on my hands I am my best self.  I find myself laughing when things get crazy with two toddlers at home, instead of pulling my hair out (insert joke about my not having hair to pull out here).

Another recent realization in regards to time for me was accepting the fact that I am always going to be up to something big or important. There is no "temporary" amount of time where I get to be not present to my partner and children.  To use Doug's words:  "There are a million people who can do your job at work, but your wife only has one husband and your kids only have one dad."  So I need to find peace with that, delegate more often, and plan a margin of time into my days and weeks. 

Applying this to nutrition, which is an area that is often compromised by lack of time, Sandy and I recently added a ton of margin of time meal prepping on the weekends. The first weekend we meal prepped it felt like it took 7 hours from grocery shopping to completion. The next weekend it took half the time. It really has opened up more margin for the week to play with my kids before and after dinner, catch up with Sandy about her day, and unwind from my busy day.  Evening battles to get the kids into bed after dinner have been replaced with games of hide and seek and longer story times. 

I think the idea of adding margin of time may also come down to having permission to have spare time. I know for me, until this idea, if there was spare time I felt like I was being lazy. Perhaps, having more spare time will allow for you to focus your time on the important things instead of on the urgent things, leading to a much more fulfilled life. With this in mind, we should value margin of time as high as the things we are doing during time. Consider it a "to do" item to have a margin of time in your day.  What would you do with an extra 30 minutes if you had it?  What could you delegate or outsource to add it into your day?  How would this allow you to live today as if you knew you were going to die soon?