Monday, February 18, 2013

First thoughts about margin

A couple of posts ago I wrote about gaining control of my time. As part of that effort, I ordered a book that a friend recommended several years ago. The title is Margin and it is about giving yourself some space in all of the aspects of your life: time, finances, physical energy, and emotional energy.

As I've started reading it, one of the things that has struck me is how many different directions we have things coming at us from and how many different directions we are pulled by things. I started limiting inputs a couple of years ago. I dumped an email list that was made up of people for whom I cared, but that was--overall--mostly a source of stress. I left a couple of others that had ceased to be useful to me. We got rid of our satellite television service. (That deserves a whole post of its own!)

I have also tried to limit things that are pulling at me. I left a board of directors that made huge, largely thankless, demands on my time. I still serve the group, but in smaller ways. And since I'm no longer on the board, it is easier to say no to those things that I am not inclined to help with. I have avoided the temptations of several other opportunities to be heavily involved with various groups and instead serve, when I can, from the periphery. We also finally found someone to take on my treasurer position at church, which all too often seemed to be the proverbial straw on this camel's back.

There are more things like this that may be jettisoned soon. Nothing is off the table right now.

This room needs margin.
I have a former business that I have left in limbo. I am still spending money--just a small amount, but still money--each month for tools that I am not currently using. I need to come to a decision about the place of that business in my life. Right now it is mental, emotional, and physical clutter. All useful if I return to being active in the business, but if not, there really needs to be a period put to it.

I am also looking for ways to simplify and help to clear out even more of the stuff around here. I have promised myself weekly scrapbooking time, but this year I need to use up the supplies I have. So, that means no new paper. (This truly is not a hardship.) This will save money and force me to use some of the thousands of sheets of paper and cardstock that are taking up space in my extra room.

Anyone who sees me often knows that I wear the same clothes almost all the time. Yet I own a lot of clothes. That fit. And are nice, stylish clothes. I need to figure out what I am going to use and allow the rest to be useful to someone else, instead of hanging in the closet torturing me.

There's more. And I have more of the book to read. But the campaign for peace and sanity continues.


Anonymous said...

Good for you, Jane! I've never actually read the book Margin, but a review of it that I read years ago was enough to make the concept stick in my mind. I've always meant to read it, and this reminds me to put it back on the list. :)

Susan said...

I think you hit on the big problem: things we want to do but can't get to yet. So we hang onto the "stuff" so we'll be able to do it later. But it is SO so hard to admit that we're giving up on it, that we won't get to it later, no matter how much we want to.

Jenny commented on that a few days ago. And I know I was vastly relieved several years ago when I finally said "I quit" on the afghan that I began knitting in 7th grade (!!) and had been telling myself I *should* finish. But some things you give up *wanting* to do (like the afghan). It's so much harder with the the things you're dying to find time for.

Oh, and I still wonder how the concept of margin fits in with self-sacrifice. On the one hand, you can't keep giving of yourself when you're depleted and dried up and going berserk. But when you don't have "time" to give yourself margin because you're trying to meet the needs of those God has put into your path (and I don't mean all the things we "could" do but only the most important people and what's necessary to supporting them), then what?

Jane said...

Susan, you are in such a hard place because you have so many demands on you right now. I do think that there are times when some of us just have to put our heads down and push forward, praying for there to be a break up ahead. We hope that those times are short, but they aren't necessarily.
I wish so badly that there was some way that I could help give you some breathing room!
At the same time, try to give yourself any margin that you can. Ease the demands that you make on yourself, if they can be eased without causing something else to spin out of control.
Praying for you, my friend.

Kristi said...

Thanks for this post. I have the book on my shelf, and I think I am going to force myself to set aside the time to read it again. I am totally on a declutter tear right now and the Goodwill trailer is nearby so hope to make a good dent in that right away today.

I just stepped off a board I have served on for 4 years and my commitment for another board I serve on will be significantly reduced come mid summer.

Trying to declutter my life and focus on my vocation right now. Your post helps push me that direction.