Sunday, May 6, 2018

Creating Margin In Your Life

 Before Larry's illness, we had allowed a HUGE number of commitments to crowd out our weekly schedule.  I often felt like a human octopus, using all eight arms to coordinate the schedules of four boys and one husband - all heading in different directions and all with different needs.  I still homeschooled, made every meal from scratch, and kept a tight reign on our finances. 

Some days I would wake up already overwhelmed.  As the day progressed, the feeling of being "behind the eight ball" would increase to almost panic-attack dimensions.  I would go for days without sitting down to read a book, play a game, or even having a decent (non-school related) conversation with my kids. 

We were seriously out of whack, with seemingly no way out! 

Then fate intervened!

When you face a life-threatening illness it is often difficult to find any silver lining.  But, in this case the need to re-evaluate our busy lifestyle became the unexpected blessing of Larry's medical diagnosis.

We cleared our schedule in a hurry to allow time and space for his gravely ill heart to recover.  This week I'll lead you through the process we employed in making decisions as to what activities stayed in our lives and which activities were set aside for a time (or for forever).

Let me help you create margin in your life, categorize your commitments, and simplify your schedule.


Our number one marriage goal is to create a life in which we are "in the moment" together as a couple and a family.

When we look at our daily, weekly, and monthly commitments, I'd like to remind you that it is better to not give your word hastily than to back out of a commitment once it is made.  It's easier to tell someone, "I don't feel that I can commit to your event at this time.  But, if I find that I have time in the future, I will reconsider and let you know." 


Organizing and optimizing your schedule!

 1. List it:  

  • Make a list every single event or commitment.  
  • Try to think of them all.  
  • Even the ones that are for fun.  
  • For instance, we like to schedule Friday night picnics during nice weather.  

2.  Label it:

The first step gives us a general word for each commitment.  I like to think of this next step as making each commitment "three dimensional".  It tells us exactly how much time and energy each event takes.  

        Is it:

  • Daily, weekly, monthly?  
  • Seasonal?
  • Length of time? 
  • How many weeks or months?
  • Time commitment?  Two hours a month?  Six hours a week?  (Be sure to include travel time)
  • Who is involved in this commitment?  
  • If this is a class, sport, or extra-curricular activity for your child, do you need to attend each week?  
  • Are you required to invest "sweat equity" as a back-stage Mom or an assistant coach?  
  • Are you required to help raise funds?  
  • ALL of these factors need to be taken into consideration for each commitment!  Otherwise you are not tracking the TRUE amount of time that each takes.   


3.  Prioritize it: 

Give each event one of these three designations:  

     * Necessary

Events which rank highest on your family's priority list.  Church might be one of these designated weekly commitments.  However, a weekly family movie or pizza night might also rank closely to that of church on your list.  

    * Optional

Your family really enjoys this event.  On a perfect week, you'd all like to continue doing this event or keeping this commitment.  Helping monthly with the church food bank is super important to us.  But, if we HAD to give it up, we could.  But, we would rather not. 

    * Extra

This event has filled space on your calendar, but it may not make the "cut".  Sometimes kid's sports, musical activities, or personal improvement events go into this category.  Just because an activity is given an "extra" designation doesn't mean that it won't make the "cut," it just means that other things have been given greater priority.   

4.  Order it:  

 We all need margin in our lives!  

  • Designate an amount of time each week that will NOT be filled up with activity! 

  • So, you might say, "We feel comfortable having a weekly commitment on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Sunday evenings."  But, the rest of the days of the week will remain free for family time.  

  • Then fill in the spaces on your weekly schedule with the events that you have already listed and prioritized.  You probably won't get then all on the schedule.  That's okay!  

  • The idea is to free you up to be "in the moment" as a family and not constantly be running from one place to another.  You want to fill your time with events and give you life, peace and "refuel" you, and not those that wear you out.  

  • That's not to say that the choices won't be tough.  Or that the events that you choose to step away from for a time aren't worthy.  You simply cannot wear yourself thin and be the best mom, dad, son, daughter, or spouse that you can be with too much on your plate.  So, don't be afraid to let go of some things.  If you find later that you really truly miss doing that event, then you can re-add it to your schedule later. 




Designate a period of time after which you will, once again, take a look at your schedule.

Ask yourself:  
  •  What is working?  
  • What is not working?  
  • How does the stress level feel? 
  • Have your circumstances changed? 
  •  You may need to readjust.  

These photos depict our current methods of stress management.

This is about all the stress I want or need at this time.  LOL!

Until next time,

Do all to the glory of God,


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