Monday, April 11, 2011

creating a life with margins

My sister Saydi discovered this great book a while back called "Restoring Margin to Overloaded Lives." It talks about the importance of having margins in life. The underlying message is that if you tried to read anything written on a page with no margins you would be confused and overwhelmed. Margins help keep you focused on what you are reading and even give you a space to take notes if you want to. The book compares pages you read to life in general. We have to have margins in order to function properly. Not every single second of life should be filled to the brim. We need to have space set apart to meditate and think and pray. We need to schedule in enough time to focus and realign. We all need margins in life.

Well, the second she told me about this idea I was hooked. A little "margin" was exactly what I needed. So I went right out and bought the book (which is actually a workbook). And then I bought the actual book to go with it too. I was determined to get some control of my life.

I came right home and set them on my desk in prime position to start reading.

But the problem is that they stayed right there for months. They kept getting buried under other "more important" things. As soon as I cleared off my desk enough to get a good look at them again, something else was immediately piled on top of them.

As I started morphing into "wit's end" again saying "yes" to too many things and not leaving enough time for some of the most important things, I decided I needed to make enough "margin" in order to even read about margins.

So last week I tried to create some margin. I tried to leave my phone at home as much as possible. I took a blogging vacation. I limited all electronics. And you know what? I got a LOT done.

But as most mothers can probably relate, the minute you let go of some things in life other things inevitably cave in like sand through a sieve. I still felt like I was running all week. BUT, I was able to prioritize a few things. I feel like I have things so much more in check. I started into my books, I made headway on having a serious weekly plan, and I had a few priceless epiphanies.

Most of all, I feel like I'm living up much better to my goal to be truly "present" this year. And that feels good.


  1. I would love to hear about your epiphanies and ideas about prioritizing that you learned from your book. That is if you ever get time to share(:

  2. I can't live without margins...I never have been able to. I would freak out...and my horns would come out...and nobody would like me...not even me! :)

  3. Hi Shawni, I have been wanting to check your blog since it was mentioned in my favorite book, "A Mother's Book of Secrets." ;) Then when I read your story on a few weeks ago about sweet Lucy, I decided to tune in, and I'm so glad I did! You are delightful and honest, Shawni. It's so refreshing!

    I, too, have been trying to keep life simple and truly be present with my little ones. We had a two-week media fast with our ward youth, which was inspiring! I deleted my facebook account and now only blog a few times a week. I like your idea of leaving the phone at home as much as possible. So wise!

    Here's to hoping we can all create margins in our lives. Cheers!


  4. There are two awesome books that are similar: Boundaries, and Boundaries with Kids. We've done them in our Bible Studies. Love this type of thinking--it just makes so much sense!

  5. Interesting. Our Sunday School class at church is getting ready to start studying that book, so we just ordered a copy the other day. I'm looking forward to reading it!

  6. oh how this blog has become my fast favourite ( and of course i have shared it with anyone and everyone i know)!!
    I too would love to hear what your have learned. I had a total meltdown today, feeling overwhelmed but feeling like i don't play enough with my kids, don't have as much fun with them as i should, i clean too much, i have that, ' give me a second' to everything they say.. do u ever feel like that???? haha\
    thanks for sharing, i love to read your blog, you inspire so many women!

  7. That's great advice for everyone! Reading your blog always helps me remember the important things.

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  9. Thanks for this post! I really seem to be happier and get more done when my life is full, but sometimes I can feel that it can get out of whack. I really loved this analogy of having margins in our full and busy lives. It is important to just be still sometimes. :)

    I haven't been visiting your blog for a while because I actually met you a while back and it kind of weirded me out. I felt strange that I was just meeting you, yet knew a lot about your life and family. It was odd. But, I decided to just get over. ;) I really appreciate your parenting advise and insights. Thank you for sharing what you are learning along the journey. I hope you find your balance with all of the good things in your life.

  10. Love thinking about this! It's so easy to fill every tiny space of our lives and leave out the margins. Thanks for the reminder!

  11. I went back and read the post about living in the present. Loved it. Our oldest son is a senior, and a very good baseball player. Last night at his game, instead of worrying and being nervous about his playing, I just made a conscious effort to enjoy his game, because next year we won't be able to see all of his college games. Thanks Shawni!

  12. love your story Shawni, lovely photos of your kids and I will keep on coming...thanks for sharing and I love being a mom too.

  13. Hill mentioned your blog in a recent post - I definitely appreciate this idea.


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