[soul sunday] the power of margins


The last time I really used that word often was when I was in grade school and I was learning how to write between margins on my [wide-ruled] paper.

But recently, I’ve been musing on the word margin more metaphorically.

I’ve been imagining my life as that piece of paper and margin as the critical space between my load and my limit. 

What an alien concept in this world obsessed with time, efficiency and productivity.

So in taking some time to envision my life like this, often what I see is a piece of paper with no white and only scribbles. So many in fact that a few are all the way “off the page” and onto the “table.”

Here’s what life without margins feels like in my body:

  • hurry
  • anxiety
  • reactivity
  • lack of presence

You know me well enough by now to know when I spot these trends, I grab out one of my [100] trusty Moleskine journals and go to work on a plan.

And here’s what’s been unfolding…

FIRST, a definition of what I aspire margin to be:

  • a set of practices and rhythms that create space in my life
  • time to recalibrate [even if it’s just a minute]
  • acknowledgement of my limits [reminding me I’m human and it’s ok to have limits]

Once I defined margin [at least for now – written in all pencil], I went to work building a list of ways to approachably build margin into my life daily [without having to start with a brand new piece of paper].

  1. wake at the same time daily [enabling a similar bed time]
  2. commute in silence – just being present and unhurried
  3. show up 10 min early for appointments sans phone
  4. get in the longest checkout line and don’t peek at phone [this one feels so strange]
  5. parent my phone – putting it to bed and making it sleep in
  6. keep my phone off until after I’ve meditated, read and journaled each morning
  7. set times for email and social media [and admin work for that matter]
  8. single task
  9. walk slower
  10. take a regular day alone for silence and solitude
  11. take 24 hour tech detox [everything in airplane mode]
  12. define what my margin is at the beginning of the day as though it’s a meeting with myself

Having just finished the book The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry, I’m of course inspired by this idea of margin to. the. fullest and I love his analogy that he uses in comparing margin to a trellis – it’s the infrastructure enabling growth and stability.

And we only achieve inner peace when we align that structure [and our scheduled margin] with our values.

Who’s ready to pull back out their [wide-ruled] “paper” and get to work writing between the lines and the margins!?

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