Productivity is impossible without margin. We cannot hope to get things done, perform with excellence, or exceed in our ministries without space in our lives for things outside of our task list. Margin is, by definition, “an amount allowed or available beyond what is actually necessary.” This means that margin is the framework of your life. It is the extra space, the reserves, or the wiggle room. Having margin in your finances means that you are not facing a crisis when your washing machine breaks because you have reserves for emergencies. It is not strictly necessary to plan your day with ten minutes on every hour set aside to handle little things that come up or an hour at the end of every day to address unexpected problems that may arise. But even if it is not actually necessary, it will create margin. Creating that margin is worth setting aside that time; margin makes room for productivity. [bctt tweet="Margin makes room for productivity." username="dukematlock"] But margin is not found only in the structure of your schedule. One of the most effective ways you can create margin in your life is to bookend your day. I don’t know when your workday ends, but it is important that it does. But how do you bookend your day? Take 15 minutes at the end of the day and ask yourself these 4 questions.

1. What did I get done today?

This is a moment to celebrate your accomplishments. You worked hard all day, so be sure to acknowledge and celebrate what you were able to get done.

2. What did I not get done today?       

This is an important moment because you have the chance to identify the specific things that remain on your agenda. Take this chance to prioritize and assess your upcoming responsibilities.

3. Why did it not get done?

Accountability is important. Be honest with yourself. Did you just run out of time? Did you take a long lunch or spend too much time reading Buzzfeed articles? Figure out what happened so it doesn’t happen again tomorrow.

4. What am I going to do tomorrow?

Make a new agenda for tomorrow. I use the app Wunderlist to manage my to-do list and it makes a huge difference. Whatever you use, make sure you are able to write it down and plan out your day. This is an exercise in accountability. Write out your agenda and then leave it alone until tomorrow.

There are so many things pulling for your attention and energy all the time. When you’re at work, you should be focused on your professional and ministerial issues. When you go home, however, you should be focused on your family. Ministries built by pastors who neglect their families cannot flourish. Don’t allow your ministerial calling to overshadow the call you have to be a good husband, wife, parent, or friend. Remember, you have to lead your family and yourself with the same fervor and focus that you lead your ministry. Bookend your day to create margin so your mind can focus on your personal life when you go home. [bctt tweet="Ministries built by pastors who neglect their families cannot flourish." username="dukematlock"]


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