Our current culture encourages us to maximize our experiences in every phase of our existence. From super-sized meals, to ultra-strength cold syrup, and VIP concert tickets, there’s endless encouragement to do more, get more, experience more, and live beyond our means.
Every Truck Has a Load Limit
Chris Ihrig, CEO of Fired-Up! Culture, often makes the analogy of a truck pulling a trailer up a mountain pass at 105% of its load limit. This effort might go well for a while, but eventually the truck will overheat, sputter, or even give out.
In our professional lives, we also tend to take on more work without considering how it might impact our capacity to perform on a broader level. For example, if your time management skills are at an intermediate level, adding more to your plate causes your efficiency and productivity to falter. If you have deficiencies in any area of your job performance, they will become extremely obvious when there’s no room for error.
But, how do we create space and time for the important things? How do we develop skills and habits that allow for productivity, even when our plates become very full? Here are four steps for creating margin in your life:
1. Schedule Time
The concept of margin speaks to multiple facets of the same issue. One way to include margin in your world is to simply allow empty space on your calendar each day. Thus, you give yourself a margin of time within which to process big decisions.
2. Be Organized About How You Use Your Time
Margin can also be gained when you increase your efficiency in regards to the use, expenditure, and investment of your time. Set aside a small window of time to plan your day each morning. Consider in advance what will be required of you and the most efficient manner in which you can accomplish those tasks. Doing so can help you unearth an additional hour of margin.
Being intentional about how you spend your time is actually one of the best ways to build margin.
3. Increase Your Productivity
Another way to create margin is to find ways to become more productive, identifying ways you can complete your tasks with more speed and efficiency. For example, a person who types 100 words per minute will complete their work in far less time than a person who is still hunting and pecking at the keys. In nearly every case, there’s a way to speed up the various processes required of you.
4. Set Boundaries
The final and most important method of giving yourself margin is to develop the skill of saying no! This can be difficult in a work setting, but there is certainly room to consider the work you agree to do and to be mindful about which tasks you choose to take on.
There Are Risks to Running at 105%
You can pull a trailer up a mountain at 105% for a while, without anyone noticing any ill effects. Yet, most entities regularly pressed beyond their capacity will experience damage that leads to catastrophic failure. It’s that damage that’s the real worry.
Relationships taxed beyond their capacity often fail. Ignoring and or/pressuring personal health for a long time can result in serious medical issues. When people operate consistently at the very edges of their capacity, their mental health can also be put under immense strain.
Building margin is not merely about figuring out the best way of doing what’s required of you. Rather, it’s also about allowing yourself to live and work sustainably, intentionally blending tasks and work requirements with time for personal well-being. Utilizing the four steps listed above can provide a way forward for folks who are currently feeling trapped and overwhelmed. Apply them with fidelity and consistency, and you’ll create the greatest possibility for sustained success.
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Tim, with his extensive background in education and management, is a great part of our Fired Up! team dedicated to inspiring teams and leaders. At Fired Up!, our work is dedicated to harnessing the power of culture to equip leaders, build amazing teams, and align operation practices to engage organizations and drive breakthrough results.