Tools of Time Management, 3: Wide Margins

I’ll admit it: my top time management struggle is leaving adequate margins in my schedule. No matter whether you call them margins, wiggle room, extra time, or cushion, it’s essential to leave space in your routines, schedule, and life to cope with the unexpected and the emergent. Easy to say, hard to implement.

And yet it’s the difference between feeling stressed when a toddler stops to smell the flowers or poke at a bug, and being able to enjoy the moment.

It’s the difference between rushing everywhere, cursing at red lights or mentally reviewing a list of possible excuses, and feeling generous enough to offer right-of-way to a pedestrian and sharing a smile of common humanity.

It’s the difference between turning in a writing project ahead of schedule, and apologetic emails to the editor.

It’s having the space to fit in the edits or the proofs when they come back unexpectedly with a short deadline.

It’s the difference between late (ugh) and early (yay!).

If the thought of arriving early and “wasting time waiting” holds you back, carry a small, portable time-filler around. For some it might be a book, for others a smartphone.

Sometimes it’s extremely difficult to stay disciplined about respecting the margins and not doing “just one thing more.” But it’s worth it. If this is a trouble spot, track your timeliness for a week. How often do you arrive early and give yourself the chance to breathe?

With ample space in the margins of my schedule and my day, life is a lot more fun!

Other posts in this series:

Tools of Time Management, 4: Routines

Tools of Time Management, 2: The List

Tools of Time Management, 1: The Calendar