Plan Your Work with Margins

The last few months have been a sprint. Seeing how times like that can impact quality of work and life got me thinking about margins. Not the profit kind, though they are important for your business. I’m referring to time margins. Thought margins. Creative margins. Take a break margins. Read some fiction margins. Listen to your favorite record margins. Go for a walk, play with the dog, grab a drink with friends, margins.

It’s easier than ever to multitask. We schedule every minute of every day like never before. As Steve Covey illustrates in 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, “effectiveness is a function of both production and the capacity to produce.” We need breaks. We need time to recharge, islands in our day no matter how much we love our work. Did that poor, golden egg laying goose die for nothing people?

So where do we find margins? Can we cash in frequent flyer miles or credit card rewards points? Do we have to put in 60 hours this week so we can take a 2-hour lunch break next Tuesday? No. You just have to make them available with an understanding of their importance.

Consider this:

  1. Keep a book of short stories on hand; in your car or in your office. Short stories can provide a quick punch of escapism with less time commitment. Yeah, I know, iPads and Kindles are great but they can also be a great distraction from your needed distraction. It’s more than likely you’ll end up answering emails and tweets, responding to facebook comments and so on, if connected. Plus, that paper book never needs charging.
  2. Have a dog? Are you lucky enough to be able to take your pup to work? Dogs are not only great stress relievers they require an occasional walk. Instant margin and health benefits to boot. You and fido get the hell out of the office for a few minutes.
  3. Like coffee? Tea? Inspiration? Grab a book, magazine, your journal maybe and find a nearby coffee shop. It’s cliche because it works. Local coffee shops can be full of the energy and chatter of strangers. People enjoying the company of others over a comforting beverage.
  4. Schedule your margins like you schedule your meetings. If your teammates see an opening on your calendar they may just find some way to fill it. If you fill it first you’re more likely to hold yourself to taking some time to recharge.

One of the main ingredients in the creation of Shout Out Studio was the idea of Quality: life, work, earth and how balance is an often over looked characteristic of a great team.

Many of us really like to work. It becomes a passion and that’s great. Remember, you are made up of more than your work. You have relationships and hobbies that could use some of your attention. Because I bet in the end, if you run your work with personal margins in mind, you’ll feel better, you’ll produce better work, and those profit type margins, just may benefit as well.

photo credit: photosteve 101

About Nathaniel Seevers

Just call him a marketing mastermind. His creative genius rests under his perfectly coiffed hair and scribbled in the pages of the notebook he carries in hand. He’s known to enjoy a good bourbon or even a nice craft beer, but don’t get confused because he enjoys his local coffee too. Great records and good books are what feed his mind, that is when he’s also not doing design of course.