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Day 6 | Saturday | MARGIN


Today is an electronic fast from sunrise to 12:00 noon. One of the goals is to disrupt our rhythm, opening up new space to reexamine our unconscious habits and to reassess priorities. Disruption comes at a cost, at first; we may struggle without our technology “fix.” This is the first sign we are taking positive next steps in breaking a dependency.

What would it look like to preschedule our lives at only 80% capacity, leaving a margin for responding to the unexpected, so we don’t live overloaded, stressed lives?

Margin is the space between our load and our limits. It is the amount allowed beyond that which is needed. It is something held in reserve for contingencies or unanticipated situations. Margin is the gap between rest and exhaustion, the space between breathing freely and suffocating.

Margin is the opposite of overload. If we are overloaded we have no margin. Most people are not quite sure when they pass from margin to overload. Threshold points are not easily measurable and are also different for different people in different circumstances. We don’t want to be under-achievers (heaven forbid!), so we fill our schedules uncritically. Options are as attractive as they are numerous, and we overbook.

If we were equipped with a flashing light to indicate “100 percent full,” we could better gauge our capacities. But we don’t have such an indicator light, and we don’t know when we have overextended until we feel the pain. As a result, many people commit to a 120 percent life and wonder why the burden feels so heavy.

—Richard Swenson

When we run out of margin, we invariably open the door to stress.


Write down one thing you can take off your schedule today in order to create some margin.