I was recently speaking with a good friend about managing our professional schedules. It seems that we sometimes have days that “get away” from us. You know those days – when meeting after meeting seemingly leaves us feeling completely drained. I find myself on these days being unproductive. I find the exhaustion of the pace, the lack of time for thinking, and the stress to be “in the moment” keeping me from being productive.
Our conversation turned to the concept of maintaining margins. Margins are the time we purposefully and intentionally put in the day for recharging, refocusing, and catching-up. Think of it like you are writing (yes . . . with a pen or pencil) on a good, old-fashioned piece of college ruled paper. There are margins – simple lines to delineate between the written work and the edge of the page. Margins help us keep things neat; they provide some order.
As you plan your day – as you schedule future days – give yourself some margins. Plan 10-15 minute times throughout your day – time between commitments – for you to reflect, catch-up, and maintain your focus. No one can be “on” every moment of every day – it takes intentionality and skill. Be purposeful in your work day – build in margins, add travel time, add 15 minutes after long meetings so you can be prepared to be productive for what comes next.
You can’t be at your best unless you are disciplined in the schedule you keep. You can’t make everyone happy; you can’t take every meeting. We have Power of the Team – ask for help when you need it and give help when you can give help. Let’s work together to be at our best by maintaining margins in our lives.