Think about the margin in a book. If we didn’t have it, the words would spread to the edges of the paper. We need margin. The antidote to our overwhelm, then, is to plan your schedule so you have some space. Dr. Richard Swenson is the author of a book on margin and has done research all over the world. He says, “When you give yourself margin, your stress goes down and your productivity goes up.”
Creating margin in your day doesn't have to be totally overwhelming, and you can start small. Our lives in modern mamahood + life are SO FULL. So let's create some space to take a breath, to recharge, and to reconnect to what's important...
Figure out what your 3 MIT's (Most Important Things) are each day. Those are what you prioritize to realistically accomplish instead of trying to get everything done. The overwhelm is real when you don't get organized.
Moms often feel out of balance because we fill our days with all that we have to do, leaving no room for any self-care (not even 2 minutes of it!). So, go back to tip #1 and do it. Right now....once you have filled out your MIT’s on a planner or sticky note, fill out where you can squeeze in some self-care. Even if it's 2 minutes of drinking tea without scrolling social media, using a meditation app, taking a walk outside, painting your own nails, or doing a face mask. It doesn't have to be hours at a spa or filled with expensive options. Self-care is about finding harmony among every day things and carving out time for you - and just you. What can you do to recharge your spirit?
If you are tired of feeling rushed, I feel you. What's an easy way to create some space? Block out your calendar so you have a buffer. Is it realistic to block out a half hour in the morning and a half hour at the end of the day? Carving out time in the mornings gives you more space in case you are running late to work, deal with a blowout on the way out the door, or there's an accident along your daily commute. Create a margin between work/personal meetings and appointments in case they take longer than expected. We all know bath times can go long, reading stories and snuggling is priceless, and homework and extracurricular activities can run over their scheduled times. Making room for more space at the end of the day gives you more time to wind-down before bed.
Cut your time in half by sharing the workload. Where can you carpool? Where can you get your partner, family, or kids to help with chores or errands? Can you do a mama or nanny share for childcare to give you more time? Get creative. See where you can work as a family unit/team to accomplish more, together, instead of everything falling on your plate.
As much as we hate to admit the online world can help us, it really can. I mean, how did parents survive without Amazon Prime and Instacart?! Ordering online can save you from running around town after work or on your weekends. Going to the market every week (or daily for some of us) takes up so much time. Would you ever consider ordering your groceries online a couple times a month to help relieve you of so many grocery trips? Or what about using Amazon to order your pet food and various supplies? Target for random household goods? The life you want is not spent running errands, and you deserve to spend extra time with your family, friends, and yourself. Think about what errands you run regularly and check to see if there is an online option. Yes, there may be a slightly higher fee, but write down the pros and cons, and see if it's worth it. (However, please consider the environment and recycle boxes and plastics! Errands emit pollution from cars, as well, so weigh your values and what works best for you, Mama!)
So often, we start our day with a "to-do" list. What about a what "not to do" list? Get super clear on the things that you say no to. For example, here's my Not To Do List: say yes to requests for business coaching, say yes to new podcasts, say yes to non essential requests to go get a coffee, drive all ways for my kids to school / sport, say yes to volunteering in an ongoing fashion, start my day on social and email. My "not to do list" will change with various seasons of my life. What's on yours? Grab a pen and paper or the notes app in your phone, and jot them down.
In the business sense, say no to appointment or meeting requests that aren't in alignment with your goals or worth your time/money. As you get busier, more and more people will request appointments (thus, time) with you. Just because you can, doesn't mean you should. Say yes only when it's important to you and fills your spirit. Consider if business opportunities/meetings are more appropriate over the phone/Skype or in-person. In-person appointments can suck up your whole day; if it's worth it, do it. If you don't have space for it, schedule a digital meeting.
A mom can only dream of what it would be like to not feel constantly rushed; to live a life where it's possible to let go of the stress that originates from over-booking and running around. Thankfully, these margin tips to help create some free space in your life are a good starting point.
Need more margin tips? Feel free to drop a little note our founding mama, Lisa Druxman, at firstname.lastname@example.org.