How to Create Margin in Your Life | The Productive Leader

It’s amazing how life can just get cluttered with too many things. And when life gets cluttered and there’s so much going on that you don’t have time to breathe, we sometimes tend to eliminate the things that actually bring relief to us. The stress builds and turns into anxiety and emotional tiredness. Then, those things begin to manifest in ways like moodiness, passive aggressive behavior, cynicism, and all sorts of negative ways.


Therefore, it’s extremely important to create margin in your life. Most people struggle with this. Most productive people really struggle with this. To be transparent, I often struggle as well to create and keep margin in my life. Today, I want to give you some thoughts that has helped me, and I believe will help you create the needed margin in your life.






When I say margin, what does that mean to you? In simple terms, margin is your breathing room. It’s the difference between your limits and your responsibilities. Margin allows us to have space in our day so we’re not so stressed and worn out all the time. In the event of an unexpected opportunity or emergency that happens from time to time, we’ll have the space and capacity to respond to those things.


There are a few principles that I want to give you today that'll help you create this margin needed in your life:


1. Recognize your limits.


Sometimes it's so hard for us to admit that we have limits. I know that most of you are not egotistical. I don’t think I am, but at one time in my life I thought I could do anything. Yeah, I may struggle a little with certain things, but I would push through no matter what it took me having to learn or how long it took me to get something done. I would push through, and I would just make it happen. I did this most of my life until I eventually learned that if I recognized that I had limits, I could work smarter and not harder.


It becomes difficult when we must admit that we're in over our heads. It’s hard when we get to a place that we must ask for help. We sometimes must swallow our pride and get someone else to come in close and rescue us from the situation. However, when we are willing to recognize our limits, we're making room for others to use their gifts.


Only leaders and individuals that are aware of their limits can make room for others. We must recognize and admit that it's not about us anyway. Lean on the Spirit of God to get you to a place where you can admit that it's not about you anyway. I must decrease and He must increase. Recognize your limits—that’s the first step in creating margin in your life.


2. Respect your limits.


When you admit that you've reached your limits, it brings a level of accountability with the people around you that helps you respect your limits. You don't have to pretend any more. You have limits and those closest to you are aware of your limits. And those that truly love and care for you are going to respect your limits as well.


It’s not like you must remove everything from your plate. In fact, that wouldn't help things at all. The important thing is to get your load down to a pressure that is manageable. When this happens, you can get focused on the things that you are good at. When you've reached your limits, it's so important that you respect those limits. You've got to make time to replenish yourself. You’ve got to create time to have fun. You’ve got to have time to rest. The only way you will have time in your life for these things is to respect your limits and create margin.


If you've been running on fumes for way too long and you're doing way too much, you’re not going to just jump into a healthy margin. So, it’s important to start by finding small pockets of margin. Where can I find some quick wins? How can I start moving towards respecting my limits and creating that margin?


Isaiah 26:12 says, “LORD, thou wilt ordain peace for us: for thou also hast wrought all our works in us.” The Lord's desire is for us to have peace, but we can't have peace without some level of space and margin. If you'll start somewhere, I can guarantee the Lord is going to help you find those small pockets of margin. He helps you find those small things that will eventually add up over time and make a difference in your life.


3. Get others involved in your relief.


Don't try to create margin alone. In fact, there's not much in life that we need to do alone. Galatians 6:2 says, “Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.” It is not impossible, but most people will struggle if they try to do it alone. Find a few people that you can admit your needs to and use them for accountability to make it a lasting change.


You can also find people that you can delegate to. You may not even realize just how many people in churches that are just waiting on the opportunity to serve the Kingdom of God in some significant way. When you release those things and get those things off your plate, it creates margin in your life, but it brings fulfillment in someone else's life. You must understand that you’re not “using” those individuals. Though it may feel like that sometimes, you’re bringing fulfillment to them and allowing someone else to step into what the Lord has called them to do.


4. Make it last


When you find margin in your work and in your life, you must guard it as best you can… and then slowly add to it. Continue to look for ways to focus on the things that you're good at and make attempts to eliminate the things that are just weighing you down. I would love to tell you that there’s some special formula, but there’s not. This is something that takes effort and hard work, but it is very important.


If you’re struggling with keeping margin, I would encourage you to make it a matter of prayer every day. If you'll make it a matter of prayer, I guarantee the Lord will begin to show you opportunities to increase your margin and to make it last.


The goal is NOT to not be doing anything. The goal is NOT to be stress free. Stress can be a good thing. However, when we don’t have margin, the stress and pressure in our lives will usually rise to an unnecessary place. Then, ultimately, our productivity can go down. We think that making our plate full is going to help us to accomplish more things, but all it does is add additional stress. When we don’t have margin, we usually struggle to gain the traction we want in whatever we’re trying to accomplish.


We all want to work hard and accomplish big things, but there’s a limit to our productivity if we don’t figure out a way to build margin into our lives. If you desire to lead effectively over a long period of time without burning out, it’s important to build in margin.


I would like you to consider these questions over the next few days:


1. On a scale of 0-10, how would you rate your level of margin (0 being no margin and 10 being healthy margin)?


2. What would it take to move that number one point?


If you’re a 2, what would it take to move to a 3. If you’re a 4, what would it take to move to a 5.

I challenge you today to create some margin in your life.


Copyright © 2021 Ryan Franklin. All rights reserved.