Catholic Husband

Love, Lead, Serve

Planning Margin Time

Think of the most successful people that you know. Consider what they do, their characteristics and all of the many obligations that they have. They’re pretty busy, aren’t they? The most successful people in life have a lot on their plate and they still get it all done. How do they do it? Disciplined time management.

I love to experiment with time management techniques. I usually have several different projects that I’m working on simultaneously. It’s difficult to manage, but I learned a difficult lesson early on. I learned that if I don’t plan margin time, I can never stay on track. All of the apps and day planners in the world can’t save me if I don’t give myself some margin.

Tasks that get scheduled get done. By using detailed planning, you can budget your time and get more things accomplished. The problem is that you can take planning too far. If you plan every minute without any breathing room, you’ll fail. There needs to be some time in between tasks that lets you handle those things that pop up.

Margin time gives you the flexibility that you need to adapt, while still allowing you to finish your goals. It gives you permission to relax a little bit and do other things. You could use your margin time with your wife, your kids, or even a hobby. For me, I give myself several hours of margin time on the weekends, while my weekdays are much tighter. In my evening routine, I’ve budgeted 15-20 minutes of margin time to spend on whatever Alison needs me to do.

The reason that using margin time is so effective is because it admits reality. I can’t go from working on my computer one minute to driving to my next destination a minute later. It takes time to move between tasks.

Margin time gives us the space we need in our day to do other things that we love. It allows us to be successful because it admits that not every moment can be planned.