03 Feb Do you have margin in your life?
“On the seventh day God had finished his work of creation, so he rested from all his work. And God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy, because it was the day when he rested from all his work of creation.” – Genesis 2:2-3
Sometime during winter break (my husband’s a professor, I live by the academic calendar), I decided it was time.
Time to start take my time back and build margin into my life.
You see, not only is my husband a professor, but he’s also in part-time law school, and it’s about as part-time as a 40-hour a week job is. Essentially, it feels like he works two full-time jobs.
Which leaves me in a more than busy state managing our two-year-old twin boys, the household, and my business.
I was perpetually frazzled, on the verge of burn out, always on edge and would easily snap when I forgot to eat all day and dreamt of a butternut squash ravioli lean cuisine, then opened the freezer only to shout, Who ate my last frozen meal?
The first bomb was dropped, and it was world war 3 from there.
The lack of a frozen meal in my freezer should not be the cause of distress in my life. But when you’re running on overdrive, the tiniest movement in an unexpected direction can cause an explosion.
Our busyness was at an all-time high, and margin was nonexistent. I needed to make some changes, fast.
So, I said good-bye to busy, and started building margin into my life.
WHY ARE WE SO BUSY?
Harvard Business Review published an article, Why Americans Are So Impressed by Busyness. The article was based on research regarding the change in perceived social status of leisure versus busyness. A century ago, leisure was the sign of social status and wealth, but today, how hard we work often raises our social standing (and income typically follows).
Why is this the case? Because if you want to get ahead, often your drive and willingness to “put in the time” is what makes the difference on whether you make it, or you don’t in your career. Within this reality we find our blessing and our curse.
The Blessing: Your circumstances are not dependent on any inherent birthright, but if you work hard and acquire the skills needed for a specific career, you can find financial success in life. Translation: hard work pays off, so work as hard as you possibly can.
The Curse: The perception of busy being the preferred status over leisure causes us to disregard something that is so critically important for our well-being. We almost feel guilty if we take time for ourselves, because it’s time we could have been working.
The Harvard article explained, “Even if the signaling power of busyness and lack of leisure is on the rise, the undesirable physiological consequences of an overworked lifestyle are well known (e.g., the long-term negative impact on happiness, wellbeing, and health).”
Our Challenge: To find the balance between hard work and leisure so we can properly attend to both our financial and career success, without sacrificing our mental and physical health.
ARE YOU PERPETUALLY TOO BUSY?
I’m going to go out on a limb here and assume you’re someone who falls on the hard-work side of the scale. You probably wouldn’t be involved with FTGI—a hub for passionate, purposeful women—if you weren’t. But, if you have the perfect balance in your life right now, by all means, no need to read any further.
Alright, if you’re still with me, then we’re kindred spirits of the hard work varietal. And we need someone to tell us to relax. So, here goes: IT’S OK TO RELAX! TAKE SOME LEISURE TIME FOR YOURSELF.
Now we’ve gotten the easy part out of the way, we’ve said it, but, it’s a little bit harder to accomplish in practice.
First, do you realize why you need rest? Sometimes you can’t buy into the what until you understand the why. And for this, let’s take a trip back into the source of where rest comes from: The Creator of Everything.
Yes, none other than God, the most majestic and powerful being in the universe, even He rested.
“On the seventh day God had finished his work of creation, so he rested from all his work. And God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy, because it was the day when he rested from all his work of creation.” – Genesis 2:2-3 (emphasis mine)
This is a familiar Scripture which feels comfortable like a pair of worn shoes molded perfectly to your feet. But, what jumped out at me this time around was how God blessed this day of rest and declared it holy. I can’t think of a better WHY behind taking time to rest then God blessing it himself.
You don’t need my permission to take time for yourself, God’s already signed, stamped, and sealed this for you.
Your Why on Rest: If God, the all-powerful Creator of everything, chose to rest, then I think it’s safe to say you should find time to rest too. And for good measure, this rest is not only blessed but holy. I can’t think of a better why!
HOW TO CREATE MARGIN
We have our why now, so let’s turn our focus to the how. How do we create rest in our hectic, busy lives? In the wisdom of walking before we sprint, here are three easy ways you can create space in your life.
- Create Space for Doing Something You Love.
Margin doesn’t have to just be sitting around and doing absolutely nothing. Rest can come in a variety of ways, but I like to think of rest as a time where you relax your mind from what takes up the majority of your time.
Read a book just for fun (no learning for work here!).
Watch a movie.
Cook an exotic meal.
Get a facial.
Get your nails done.
Whatever it is you do, make sure it’s just for the pure sake of it’s something you enjoy. And if it has the added benefit of pampering yourself, win-win!
- Create Space for Pure Relaxation.
And this is where the soaking in a warm bath with a candle lit comes in. Sometimes, we just need to shut down our minds and just be. Maybe reading or watching a movie are still too much activity, and clearing your mind takes a little more stillness. What I love about this is it’s something you can easily add-on to any day of the week, perhaps right before bed. If you don’t like baths, then maybe you could try spending a few minutes sitting on your back porch sipping on a beverage of your choice. Sometimes just 30 minutes in the quiet can recharge you for an entire week!
- Create Space for Outdoor Activities.
Getting outside in the fresh air deserves its own category. We spend so much of our time in front of screens—whether it’s our computer, phone, or tv—we live in the artificial. Getting outside into the fresh air is such a great reprieve. I work from home, and days have gone by where I literally didn’t go outside when it was daylight. Those are the worst! Where ever you are during the day, take a few moments to go for a walk. Pay attention to your breath, observe God’s beautiful creation all around you, and be thankful for being exactly where you are.
Rest is a gift, and something you have to remember to take for yourself. Creating margin takes work, but as you continue the practice of creating space in your life, you’ll find it gets easier and easier every day to take time for yourself. And the more leisure you add back into your life, the more you will see the positive benefits of doing so.
Take care of you. Because no one will do it for you. You have to make your own margin and create the space you know you deserve.
In what ways do you create margin in your life? Do you find it challenging to take time for yourself? Why? How do you think you will start to incorporate some of these ideas into your life for creating margin? We’d love to hear from you in the comments!