Posts Tagged ‘margin’

Here is a sample of the suggestions from Richard Swenson’s prescriptions for restoring MARGIN.

In his book he talks about how problems arise in each area, then gives a full description of what you might change to make a difference.

At the back he gives a comprehensive list of references and further reading – no shortage of resources for change!

One or two might give you a nudge in the right direction.

Margin in Emotional Energy

  • cultivate friendships
  • get a pet
  • reconcile relationships
  • rest

Margin in Physical Energy

  • take personal responsibility for your health
  • change your habits – diet, exercise
  • value sleep
  • take a nap when you can

Margin in Time

  • expect the unexpected
  • learn to say ‘no’
  • turn off the TV
  • don’t rush after the urgent – give attention to what is important

Margin in Finances

  • check your values – what we treasure most, usually has no price tag
  • discipline desires and redefine needs
  • save
  • make a budget

If contentment made house calls, its advice would be ‘increase your reserves’. Tim Kimmel


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Have you ever snapped, run out of steam, or felt drained?

You reached a limit – and you didn’t see it coming before it was too late.


Recognising that we have limits and learning to spot them is one of the most useful learning points in Richard Swenson’s book ‘Margin‘.

As a doctor he gives many illustrations, both personal and from his medical practice, of the consequences of overstepping our limits.

Even in the news today the lead GP speaks out against overstepping the limits in how much we eat, drink and smoke – these “irresponsible actions . . cause growing levels of disease and lead to early death”.

Progress is good. And yet how is it that as we achieve so much in the way of progress; more education, more wealth, more opportunities, we find our lives getting harder rather than easier?

When we reach the threshold of our limits the balance changes, and the experience turns from sweet to sour.

The skill is in giving ourselves a safety margin – a safe space before we reach our limit.

Dr Swenson suggests that, for health, we need to maintain a safe margin in 4 areas:

emotional energy, physical energy, time and finances

His book gives his ‘prescription’ for checking and restoring balance in each area of our overloaded lives.

I find this a really helpful metaphor for balance in life – four pots that need to be filled and monitored.

Too much or too little in any pot causes imbalance.

Could you be the donkey in the picture?

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Here is an interesting thing – in the Apprentice Training Programme, creating MARGIN is the Soul Training exercise linked to the chapter headed God is Holy.

The Diamond Ring Effect - the Sun's light peeking from around the edge of the Moon's surface

An important aspect of decluttering your life is making space to understand and know God.

Writing about God’s Holiness in Knowing God,  J.I. Packer speaks of the goodness and severity of God (p181). He warns against creating a false Santa Claus theology where God’s goodness is welcomed and his severity ignored.

Understanding and responding to all of God’s attributes is both urgent and important.

When do we take time to gaze at the stars – lifting our attention from the urgent issues that shout for our attention and beginning to consider the important issue of seeing ourselves and God in perspective?

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.

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It is all very well decluttering your home and office, but what about the other clutter in your life?

A colleague recently asked me how I was, sighed, then answered her own question – “Busy like the rest of us, I suppose.”

She left me no space to tell her what was actually happening in my life. Without pausing she went on to bemoan how much work and pressure we all have to cope with; long hours, phone calls, emails.

In fact my life is not busy at the moment – and I have lots I could say about that.

In the Apprentice Series, the next Soul Training exercise I am learning about is MARGIN.

Margin refers to the space on the edge of a page where there is no text. In this context it is about leaving space in your day for leisure, rest, family, health and God.

Decluttering your life.

Richard Swenson is a doctor who discovered marginlessness in the lives of his patients and witnessed the stress this produced. When he realised his own life was just the same he was shocked to recognise he was compromising his health, his family and his relationship with God. The three things most important to him.

He cut his medical practice in half and wrote a book – Margin; Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial and Time Reserves to Overloaded Lives.

The message is simple – just say no.

But to what? To anything that is not absolutely necessary to the well-being of your soul or the welfare of others.

Making changes like that takes some thought and practice . . . I bought the book.

What do you think, can we declutter our lives?

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