Practical Ways to Gain Margin #2


Last week I shared in this post 7 practical ways to gain margin in our lives. Today I want to share 7 more ways to gain margin. All of these come from a book entitled "Margin" written by Dr. Richard A. Swenson, M.D.

1. Thank God - If you have two meetings scheduled on the same evening, you obviously can attend only one. Don't overlook the possibility that this might be God's way of being kind to you.

2. Get Less Done but Do the Right Things - Busyness is not a synonym for kingdom work -- it is only busyness. All activities need to be assessed as to their spiritual authenticity. Again, if we have one hundred things to do and can do only ten, how do we select from them? We must have God-authored criteria with which to judge our activities, and we must be willing to use them.

3. Don't Rush Wisdom - Seldom is true wisdom a product of speedy deliberation. As a matter of fact, wisdom is almost always slow. Wait for clearness. The more important the decision, the longer the time you should take to make it. If life's pace pushes you, push back. Take as much time and prayer as you need for clearness to develop. And wait for your decision to be affirmed by peace.

4. For Type A's Only: Stand in Line - Cardiologist Dr. Meyer Friedman, one of the first to describe the type A personality, offered this practical advice to his patients: "Practice smiling. Purposely speak more slowly, stop in the middle of some sentences, hesitate for three seconds, then continue. Purposely say, "I'm wrong" at least twice today, even if you're not sure you're wrong. Listen to at least two persons today without interrupting even once.... Seek out the longest line at the bank. Verbalize your affection to your spouse and children."

5. Create Buffer Zones - If you have a busy schedule with nonstop appointments, consider creating small buffer zones between some of the obligations, a kind of coffee break for the spirit. Even ten or fifteen minutes can allow you to catch up, take a deep breath, close your eyes, pray, call your spouse, reorient your priorities, and defuse your tension.

6. Plan for Free Time - If God were our appointment secretary, would HE schedule us for every minute of every day? Time urgency was not only absent with Christ, it was conspicuously absent. Christ's teaching, His healing, His serving, and His loving were usually spontaneous. The person standing in front of Him was the opportunity He accepted. If He chose spontaneous living, isn't that a signal to us?

7. Be Available - Margin exists for the needs of the kingdom, for the service of one another, for the building of community. It exists, just as we exist, for the purpose of being available to God. Being useful to God and other people is a large part of what life is meant to be. And yet "usefulness is nine-tenths availability." When others need help, they don't need it two days from now.

I am slowly working several of these into my life and I must tell you that they really do make a difference. I'm finding that focusing on what REALLY needs to get done instead of every little thing on my list right at this moment helps temendously. Purposely slowing down and making myself be still is great. Creating buffer zones is working well for me, too.

Another area somewhat related to this (at least for me) is stress. Next week I'll share some steps to help in alleviating some of the stress in our lives. Can you imagine how freeing it could be to give ourselves additional breathing room in our lives AND alleviate some of the stress? WOW! :)

13 Thoughts Shared:

Beth in NC said...

Thanks for sharing Melanie. You know, I seemed to get more done when I worked full time than I do now that I stay home with our daughter! My house seemed cleaner too (ha). Go figure!

Joan said...

Interesting list. I need to work on a few of those myself. Thanks for sharing! Did I mention I like the new profile pic.


shopannies said...

great advice thanks for sharing

Beth E. said...

I would have a very difficult time with #4. Standing in line is NOT something I do very well. If the line is long, I tend to just leave! Gonna have to work on that one. :o)

Great post, Melanie!

Amydeanne said...

great list! i'm glad i stopped in this morning! i need to work on some of these!

Summer said...

Great post! Some wonderful things to incorporate into my life....thank you!


Tracy said...

These are some excellent words of wisdom and advice! It's so easy to pack too much in our days. Being busy, even in the Christian realm is not always a good thing. Thanks! Looking forward to practicing a few of these.


DeeDee said...

great post.... much needed Margins!
Thanks for visiting with me!

April said...

I definantly think that #4 is something a lot of us type A people need to do. I've been trying to "Practice smiling. Listen without interrupting and saying my feeling to those I love.
Now standing in the longest line may be the hardest thing I could try to do :)
thanks for sharing

Tea With Tiffany said...

I love the book Margin. It's one of my practical favs.

Beth (A Mom's Life) said...

Thanks for some great tips!

Michele Williams said...

I need to work on a couple of those margins... thanks for sharing... Blessings...

Tricia said...

I love this "series"... it is one I need right now! Thanks for taking the time to share all of this with us!