One of my favorite books of all-time is Margin: Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial, and Time Reserves to Overloaded Lives by Richard Swenson. Swenson’s premise is that most of us live life without enough room at the edges, leading to stress and burnout. Over the last few weeks, I’ve been reminded of the truth of Swenson’s book, as well as the fact that I need especially wide margins.
Many people marvel at my productivity, but the reality is that they don’t see how much time I need to myself in order to be that productive in my limited working hours. I need more sleep than most people to function adequately; I need large chunks of time by myself, just to think; I need a clutter-free physical environment; I need regular time with God through various spiritual disciplines; and I need time to gear up and wind down from high-extrovert situations, even including regular events like church. Compromise on any of these for very long, and my physical, emotional and spiritual health will suffer.
The holidays are a busy season, adding stress to already busy lives. There is pleasantly busy, and there is too busy. I hate feeling too busy (it can literally make me sick), so I have worked very hard over many years to create wide margins. This Christmas season may be the worst time for me to bring up the subject of margin; then again, this may be the very best time. Do you have enough margin in your life, or were you living life at the ragged edges even before the Christmas displays began popping up? What will you do in the new year to create healthy margins in every area of your life?