Maybe you know someone who is perpetually late for appointments. Or maybe you are that person.

When we have so many meetings to attend, we believe that we can schedule them back to back. We think that the meetings will always end on time. And we believe that there won’t be any traffic on the way to the next appointment to delay us.

Any empty slot in our calendars gets filled up quickly. Even kids say they are busy. And you might be subscribing to the lies that make your schedule overwhelming.

Why you need margin in your schedule

#1 You’ll be more productive and creative

Studies have shown that rest is important in increasing productivity. There is no point in starting at your computer screen if all that’s in your mind is just thoughts of how tired you are. Maybe what you need is a break. To get your mind off the work that you are doing right now.

You could actually achieve more by doing less. Don’t spread yourself too thin. Empty space in your schedule is important. You might be tempted to do something the moment there is nothing else left to do. But boredom can actually help spark creativity.

#2 You’ll be less stressed out

Life without margin is stressful. There is no space for you to breathe, let alone relax and organise your thoughts properly. The demands of adulthood creep up on us quickly. If we are not careful, we can be tempted to use busyness as a badge of honour.

When you have margin in your schedule, you won’t fear getting stuck in heavy traffic along the way to your appointment. You’ve already buffered time for it. You will end up arriving for your appointment more relaxed.

#3 You’ll have space to grab hold of opportunities

Have you ever travelled with a packed schedule, planned right down to the minute? What if you happen to see something interesting along the way. Do you have time to stop and explore?

When you have margin in your schedule, you allow space for some spontaneity. You can grab hold of surprise opportunities that can’t be planned for.

How to build margin in your schedule

If you are a detailed planner, you can try planning your ideal week like what Michael Hyatt recommends.

But if you’re like me and detailed plans (I do use a calendar though) don’t exactly work that well, then just remember some key principles.

  1. Create margin between appointments. Have at least 15 minutes to relax and prepare for your next appointment
  2. Determine when you work (and when you don’t)
  3. Don’t let work eat into times you’ve set aside for other aspects of life
  4. Allocate more time for ALL meetings, tasks and appointments than what you think you’ll need
  5. Progress is better than perfection. Once the time is up for a task or project, ship it and move on

Your time is the most valuable resource that you have. If you don’t consciously guard your time, others will make their demands on your time relentlessly.

Are you protecting and guarding your time well by consciously building margin in your schedule?

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