Expand your Margins

We’ve all been encouraged to “expand your horizons.”  Everywhere we look, we’re encouraged to try new things. Live life to the full.  Leave no stone unturned. Do more!

I’m all for staying open to new experiences, but what about expanding your margins?


What does it mean to expand your margins?

Just like a page on a website or in a book would be hard to read if it had no margins–no spaces at the edges–our days can get hard to handle if we don’t have empty spaces to frame all our world-conquering activities.

In addition to expanding our horizons, we should also remember to expand our margins to keep ourselves balanced.


Why would we want to make space in our day when it would mean passing up an opportunity to accomplish the next thing?  This idea goes against the grain.  We’re taught to be efficient, to get the most out of every minute, to not waste time.  What’s the value of expanding our margins?

Because at some point our attempt to do more becomes counterproductive.  Haven’t you felt that cramming in just one more thing actually makes us less efficient and–worse–less satisfied?  Why is that?

I’m suspicious that the more we do the more we forget who we are.  In my mind, expanding our margins gives us time to just be instead of judging ourselves by what we can or can’t do.


O.K. so it’s important to have a little time to ourselves.  But what might “expanding our margins” look like in an “expand your horizons” kind of world?

Here are my favorite ways to keep the balance between being and doing:

  • Have breakfast outside.  Or find some other peaceful place to sit down by yourself.  And just be. Make time and space to enjoy this most mundane and necessary part of your day.  Don’t get up until you have finished (no checking the laundry in the middle of a piece of toast).  And no electronics allowed.
  • Drive in silence.  Turn off your music or podcast and instead listen to your own thoughts.  
  • Spend 10 minutes with your pet.  Grooming, cuddling, or just watching them do what they do.  Our pets tend to be excellent reminders of unconditional love–they always appreciate us just for being present no matter how unsuccessful we may be feeling on any particular day.
  • Stretch.  Just 10 minutes of yoga will do wonders.  Or just sit down on the floor, identify what hurts, and ease your tensions out.

And you can come up with your own ways of carving out little niches of time to just be.  Pause to reflect on and appreciate who you are rather than worrying about all your accomplishments-in-progress.  Expand your margins.