Life is busy and we fill it up with all kinds of things. Some things are better time investments than others, but who have you worked with that isn't busy? The bigger question to ask ourselves is whether or not we are being productive. Let's note that productive can take many forms. The most obvious is rooted in the word itself--producing a product. This product may be exemplar lessons for other teachers, great learning experiences for students, or curriculum documents. It might also take less tangible forms through leadership and the positive influence on colleagues. Being productive means contributing to your community and making it better for everyone--students and colleagues. It isn't about you...or me.
When we become so busy that we are just trying to survive, we become inward focused. We stop turning outwards and contributing to the community. We can easily become self-absorbed and focused only on our own little sphere of our work. It's not intentional, but it's a human coping and survival mechanism.
So we need margins. Margins are that lag time so that every minute of every day isn't filled up. It leaves us open to get involved and invest in our community. It's part of a healthy life, healthy organization, and a sustainable pace in the organization. It's not necessarily a new idea. It is one that I've been thinking a lot about lately. Andy Stanley has spoken articulately about this idea and Leo Babauta touches the idea in many of his posts, particularly a recent one on Frictionless Work.
If you don't have any margins, take some time to reflect and see what you can do to create some. We all need them. And the organization, the community, and our families suffer if we don't. How about you? Any suggestions that you wish to share with others on how to successfully create or sustain margins?