In the interest of saving you time and margin, I want to jump right in and give you some of the margin rules that I follow and feel have been helpful in my life.
1. Learn to say “no”
You may feel guilty at first, but that’s normal. It’s always awkward to do something you’re not used to doing. And don’t feel as if you have to give a reason for not signing up to be “Room Mother” or “Den Father.” Your friends may say, “But you’ve been Room Mother for the last 5 years! How can you quit?” And you can say back, “Because I’ve been Room Mother for the last 5 years!” And leave it at that!
2. De-clutter Your Life
This goes along with learning to say “no.” You have to evaluate what is most important and trim away the excess.
- If you have two kids and they each want to play three sports every year, then cut back to two or even one sport per child per year. Also, consider not having them play their sports all at the same time. Remember – our kids need to learn limits when they are young or they will end up like us—frazzled adults!
- If you volunteer at your church in several areas and feel stressed, then pray about pulling back from one of the areas that is least necessary.
- If you struggle with clutter in your home, avoid buying anything new without donating or selling something old. Remember the more you have, the more you have to keep up with and maintain!
Get the idea?
3. Keep Regular Routines for Work and Rest
This one is more important than people realize. We all have natural rhythms that our bodies crave. When we don’t get the right amount of rest or sleep, we can’t handle even the little things in life. So keeping a specific schedule to your day, day after day is important. Allow for work times, but also allow for breaks throughout the day. Your productivity will increase if you do. And make a ritual of slowing down and doing calming activities just before bedtime—then getting in bed near to the same time each night (as well as getting up near to the same time each day).
4. Practice Contentment
There’s an irony in life, well, there are many, but the one I’m speaking of has to do with our “wanter.”
We all have a “wanter.” You would think that if you fed the “wanter,” it would be satisfied. But unfortunately, the “wanter” only gets hungrier and hungrier as it is fed–especially if it is well-fed. The way to reverse this is to focus not on our wants, but on our needs.
- Do you really need to spend hours upon hours decorating your house for Christmas?
- Do you really need to have your house perfectly clean for relatives who will only mess it up worse than before!
- Do you really need to work those extra hours, so that you can buy that big screen television, so that you can watch away any margin you may have left? If this isn’t the fast track to the crazy cycle, I don’t know what is!
Christmas is all about focusing on the most important person in life—Christ. So why not use this as a time to also focus on your priorities instead of getting caught up in all the holiday hype.
“But godliness with contentment is great gain.” I Timothy 6:6 (NIV)