How to Create Margin in Your Overly Busy Life

Most people I know still feel overwhelmed by life’s demands. Despite all the gadgets and gizmos, they don’t have more time. They are only getting busier—and falling further and further behind.

Stressed Man Rubbing His Eyes - Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/sandoclr, Image #53566

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/sandoclr

Sadly, many people are convinced their situation is temporary:

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  • “As soon as I get acclimated to this new job, I will have some breathing room.”
  • “As soon as I get my toddler into school, I will have some margin.”
  • “As soon as my spouse finishes his current work assignment, I will have some help with the kids.”

But, the weeks turn into months. And the months turn into years. People go from one “temporary situation” to the next. Before long, it’s permanent. Like the proverbial frog in the kettle, we’ve been boiled one degree at a time.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. You really can live a balanced life. But first, you have to understand what is creating the busyness in your life.

In my experience, busyness come from one or more of the following sources:

  1. Cutbacks at work. The economic downturn has meant that most organizations are cutting costs. This means fewer people doing the same amount of work. Like the children of Israel under Pharaoh, you are having to “make more bricks with less straw” (Exodus 5:6–9).

    The good news is that if you’ve survived thus far, you’re probably great at multi-tasking, prioritizing, and working under tight deadlines. You’re adding value, and that’s why you still have a job. The downside is you’re not sure when your company will resume hiring and give you some relief.

    What to do? Just say “no.” At least to some things. If you don’t establish boundaries, you will eventually burn out or go through a meltdown—and then you won’t be of much use to anyone.

  2. Competition in the market. In the current environment, more people are competing for fewer jobs. More competition means everyone is working harder just to keep what they have. As a result, it is more difficult to stand out and get noticed.

    This means that you feel more pressure to perform. You don’t want to lose the job you have, so you add more hours, more meetings, and more trips—anything to add value. But when is enough enough? You can drive yourself crazy, constantly looking in the rear-view mirror and wondering when your competition will overtake you.

    What to do? Exercise faith. Fundamentally, it does not all depend on you. God is involved in the process. Work hard, but from a posture of faith, not fear.

  3. Online technologies and gadgets. In our increasingly connected world, we are always on, always accessible, 24/7. While new gadgets and software make it possible to do more in less time, sadly, we often fill this with more work.

    These technologies—email, texting, social media—may start out as a way to connect faster and more efficiently. But soon, they can take over our lives, stealing the last bit of margin we have left. While I am an advocate of technology and social media, there is a cost involved, especially if we don’t proactively manage it.

    What to do? Create boundaries. You don’t have to swear off technology, but you do have to be sensible. If you are accessible to everyone 24/7, you’ll ultimately be accessible to no one—especially those that matter the most.

Yes, balance is possible. But it requires that you recognize the forces that threaten to disrupt it and put into place the appropriate countermeasures.

Question: What is the source of most of your busyness? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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