Life with margins.
For many, the crammed lifestyle pushes to the very edge of every page, and there is no room to breathe.
The slightest shift can tip the cart over the edge.
We need margin. Look for the whitespace and be careful not to fill it.
A moment in your day does not immediately demand that it be filled with phone. You know what I mean.
It’s in the spaces that we find new things. It’s through the cracks that fresh insights can leak in.
I have three key filters I like to apply, and each one can be enjoyed across the board of your happy existence.
Look at these like a sieve, a filter, that allows only the essentials to reach your desktop….
Well, good morning to you, or afternoon or evening, wherever you are on the planet, I today want to talk a bit more about peaceful and purposeful productivity. I’m standing here in my office in Burgess Hill, and I do want to share with you something that has had actually a huge impact on my own production, my own productivity, but also my own piece. And I want to talk about really designing your life so you’ve got some margin. So you’re in the same way as you might have a page.
Sometimes the pages of our life for us are like crammed to the very edge. There’s not a lot of room, you know, for for experimentation. There’s not a lot of room for anything beyond what we are already involved in. And, you know, for far too many people, that crammed lifestyle pushes to every edge of the page. And there really is very little room to breathe. And the slightest shift can can just tip things over the edge.
And, you know, we really do need to have margin in our life and look for the white space. And when we find it, you know, be reluctant to quit, to fill it too quickly. Sometimes we see a space opened up like a moment in our day opens up and we immediately demand that it be filled with our phone or whatever, whatever your chosen distraction may be. I’m sure you all know what I mean, that, you know, we find just a moment to think or to breathe, and immediately we pull out whatever device we have in our pocket and shoot that opportunity dead and just fill it up with stuff.
And, you know, but I’ve found that sometimes it’s in the spaces that we discover new things. Sometimes it’s through the cracks that fresh insights can can leak in. You know, we need to open up opportunity for fresh insight to come in. I was just speaking with a friend this morning and we were bouncing some messages back and forth and we were talking about how easy it is to have so many voices speaking to us, even good voices, even like real positive voices.
But we we’ve multiplied the number of voices that are speaking to us so much that literally they can just become just as noisy as everything else. And, you know, the Holy Ghost and the Holy Ghost generally sometimes they might, but generally the Holy Ghost is not going to be shouting and his voice can easily be drowned out by all of the other voices that we give ourselves to both good and kind of inconsequential and maybe even even not so positive voices.
And we want to hear that still small voice. We want him to be the the prime teacher. We want him to be the primary leader in our life and in our business. And I think sometimes it’s important for us to make sure there’s some margin for him to do that. You know, we just don’t want every moment to be filled. And even now you might be listening to this. I may be one of those distractions. Quick, get out of here.
You know, make sure that Jesus is like Jesus first. Everything else follows. And, you know, I have three key filters that I like to apply that I believe can help. I look at these a bit like a sieve or a filter. So I shake things through them and see what falls through to and distils down to to kind of what I need to put my hand and my mind in my heart, too. And these three filters are very simple.
Eliminate, automate delegates and then write down. If we follow the distillation down, we come to the big word do. Yeah and say eliminating is really about looking at what we do, what, what, what our lives are filled with, what our time, what is placing demand on our time and our energy and our thought and really then looking to look at looking at what. What, what. Is not needed, really what he sometimes we can just go with sometimes, you know, we can look to reorganise yeah.
Things that ought not even to be there to be organised in the first place. We can just be shifting stuff around from mental shelf to mental shelf or maybe maybe physical shelf to box to to to cupboard or whatever. But really what needs to be done is we need to just have the guts to pick that thing up and bring it get rid of it. You know, whether it’s an activity, whether it’s a way of thinking, whether it’s just, you know, physical clutter, remove whatever is unnecessary.
This is like the beginning part. And then it’s only when something passes the elimination filter that we move on to the next part. And like I’ve got a couple of examples here, personal. I eliminated the time it takes to choose what I wear each day by literally clearing out my entire closet. I mean, I’m if I get a bee in my bonnet, I tend to kind of fairly radically apply. And, you know, so I’m not suggesting that this works for everyone, but I literally got rid of all of my everything in my closet.
I went out, I bought four pairs of jeans, 10 identical t shirts, 10 pairs of socks and 10 pairs of undies. And that was it. That was my my my wardrobe was sorted. I, I give for the past two years, I’ve given zero thought to what I wear. I put on a pair of jeans, one of these t shirts, and I’ve got like as you’ve probably seen, I’ve got like one jacket, one jumper were good.
I don’t have to think I’ve eliminated the the hassle of trying to figure out what to wear each day, now that of course, that may not work for some people. I was just trying to pull an example from my personal life where I’ve applied this professional man for a long time. I was administrating several different newsletters. I run an online business and one for each of my pet names. It’s a publishing business largely, and I eliminated the need for that by choosing to correspond as the publisher and simply connect with readers through just one channel for all of those pen names.
And again, I’m not saying if you’re in the publishing game, I’m not saying that that’s the best way to do it, but it’s the best way for me. It certainly brought a great deal more peace and less confusion to my to my the various hats that I was having to wear. And I in the blog post, I recommend a few different books that I have found helpful. I love to. In fact, I was surprised to love this, but I really did.
I loved the life changing magic of tidying by Marie Kondo. And and I also really enjoy some of the writings by a couple of guys who call themselves The Minimalists, particularly their memoir, Everything That Remains, was a great book. Now, it doesn’t necessarily speak directly. It may be speaking a bit that both of these books may be a bit kind of out there on that kind of radical edge of the spectrum. But the great thing about them is they are infused with such incredible passion and like I like such devotion to their cause.
And and in that, you know, I think it can move us to a place that we are we feel comfortable with to begin to apply some of that kind of eliminator focus. And then, you know, once once it’s passed through that filter, I then go to automate. This is kind of the next stage on from eliminate. And I ask myself, OK, if I can’t eliminate this, if it’s something that really is needful, can I automate the task of process so it becomes either completely hands off or partly taken care of by technology is a software that can take care of this task at hand instead of my hand having to do it manually each and every time.
And like if you’re in online business, an obvious one is to invest in, like paying for an autoresponder that can take care of a lot of the correspondence that you engage in with your subscribers or readers. It might be a scheduler that you use to schedule up your social media. So you’re not having to administrate that every minute of every day. It could be plug ins that you add to your website to perform certain tasks on your behalf. There are all sorts of ways to remove yourself from the picture and yet still get the same results.
And oftentimes I found, though, that the automation process can be quite front loaded. It can be something that we have to put a lot of thought and energy and time and set up into at the outset. Okay. And that prevents a lot of people actually stepping into the freedom that automation can give them, because it does take it does take time upfront. You’ve got to you’ve got to kind of feed the system. But then the system basically takes care of itself, at least for a season.
And it may be that you need to kind of swing around on a regular basis just to keep feeding in whatever’s necessary to keep that system moving. But it’s a great deal less stressful than kind of just spinning all of the different plates that that are required. And I guess, you know, I’m just talking about my business, but there are absolutely will be ways to apply similar things in in whatever business you do. I mean, like in my in my accounting, my accountant introduced me to something called Receipt Bank.
I think it’s still called that. And basically, instead of me having to have paper receipts everywhere and collect those and, you know, whatever else, I can literally just take a photo of it on my phone and it goes off ready for my accountant and my bookkeepers to take care of. And that’s it. That’s my that’s my part in the process done, which I really love honour. It’s some examples on a personal level of automation. My wife, Larna and I subscribe.
A service called Hello Fresu deliver a box full of ready to cook meals each week, not ready, cooked, not quite that far down the line of automation. I think, like I would question ready cooked meals unless it was something like Chef, and I’ve probably not got the money for that level of service, but we get a box, we get a box each week delivered that has three or four different meals in. You know, all of the rightly proportioned ingredients are in there with a like a dummy’s guide, like instructions like do this, then do this.
And that just helps us to we don’t have to worry about shopping for our meals or even choosing what meals we’re going to eat each week. And on a professional level. GETMAN The lists of tasks, the list of tasks that I have now automated, the some of which I’ve already spoken of here, are like just to increase all the time. And I seek to remove myself as much as I can from whatever whatever processes I put in place. And, you know, a great book, one that I found.
In fact, the funny thing is I have never actually ever yet finished this book. I read just a short part of it, and that was enough to kind of shift the gears in my thinking. Is the myth revisited by Michael Gerber is a great one. And so we’re now kind of shaking the sieve and it’s gone through one sieve and it’s now gone through another. And the third level is delegate. And for me, these are the three levels, really, you know, if it can’t be eliminated, if it can’t be automated or it can only be partially automated, I’m looking for a candidate.
It becomes a candidate for delegation. And at one time I was like such like a complete like I was I was chief chef cook and bottle washer in all of the areas of my business. You know, if it was there to be done, it had my name beside it. But really, that’s very unscalable. And it’s actually I can end up being far from peaceful. And actually, you know, in all of that doing, we become less and less productive because we’re just simply doing too much.
And we’re often pouring our time into tasks that are not the best way for us to spend it. You know, we can produce far more doing the tasks that we are best fitted for and allowing others to do the tasks that really either we don’t like or that we’re not really very good at, that take us far more time than they should and that others could do far more efficiently on our behalf. And, you know, I’ve delegated a great deal, a lot of the different tasks in my businesses.
I still probably do too much. I’ll be honest. I like to work. I like to produce. I like to create. You know, I’m kind of hands on type person, but I’ve learnt that, you know, that this is actually such a necessary part, both of life and business. I’ve found, you know, the first I’m lost for words because I remember how frightening it was at the outset to begin to outsource some of the tasks that I was so used to doing myself.
You know, the grip of self-sufficiency had me so tightly in its hand that it was it seemed easier to just do it myself than take the time to step back and maybe kind of stall the stall, the cogs in the machinery for a season in order to train and help someone else to help me. But wow, the payoff, you know, it’s it’s a bit like automation, I say, and oftentimes it’s front loaded. Sometimes delegation can be the same way because you’re obviously looking for a certain result.
You’re looking for things to be done in a certain way. And it takes a lot of thought and a lot of energy to maybe document that and document those processes so someone else can follow them. It’s really one of the biggest mistakes you’ll make if you delegate is just assuming that someone else should know exactly what you want done. No, they don’t. It’s your your role as the steward of this process to provide very, very clear, detailed guidelines how you want it done that way.
Both. The person doing the job will be happy and you will be satisfied rather than frustrated in our personal level. Okay, so like right down to basics of delegation, we have a cleaner come in for just two hours a week to just help just clean and tidy our house. Now, we obviously tidy and clean in between times, but we know that once a week we’ve got someone in coming who’s just completely focussed on just helping us keep things in a in a in a manner that we are happy with.
And, you know, and that’s real helpful. It’s just a very basic personal example of delegation and and professional, the majority of practical tasks in many, many of the areas of my business and now delegated to others. And I’ve got people writing, editing, assisting me in most of the practical aspects of my processes and that and you know, honestly, that the system leaks a bit, if I’m honest. So, you know, I would love to be able to say this with, like, complete that this was a complete.
But I found, you know, the filtering process is an ongoing one, but I’m certainly a great deal closer to where I want to be than I was five years ago, two years ago, one year ago, six weeks ago. And and, you know, as it passes through these filters, we come finally to to just the final one, which is what do I do? OK, what actually goes through and comes out and distils down to the things that that actually remain on my desk.
Book recommendation for Delegates Who Not How by Dan Sullivan. Great book, great book and Virtual Freedom by Chris Dukkha. Both of those books are really helpful and very, very practical. And then say by now, like as you’ve sifted things through the few grains still on your plate, these are the tasks that you’re fitted for. These are the ones that you perform to the highest level ones that provide the highest value to others. You know, productivity is not really about doing more on a on a on an actual practical level for you yourself as the producer, it’s about doing less, less of the unnecessary things.
So what remains can be undertaken with all of the strength and passion that you carry in your heart, that that your energies are not just being expended in every direction. So there’s nothing left for what really matters. I love this this scripture in Colossians. It says whatever you do, work at it with all your heart as working for the Lord. That’s what Colossians three, verse 23, tells us. I like following this sieving system. You know, by the time by the time you get to the things that remain for you to to undertake, you know, most of them will be at some level personally very satisfying to you.
You’ll get you’ll you’ll gain satisfaction from the doing of them. You know, you’ve eliminated you’ve automated, you’ve delegated many of the things that really are energy drains for you. And the tasks that remain are the ones that invigorate you. I mean, it’s a it’s a it is an ongoing process, as I say. But, you know, you have authority and mandate, I believe, from heaven to design your life. You are not confined to continue in a default position where decisions are imposed upon you.
You are most of the time and to a greater degree than we often give ourselves liberty to embrace and enjoy. We have the opportunity to choose what we do. Oftentimes we fail to make those choices because we’re fearful, therefore, if we get down to it, but you can choose and and I really do believe that it begins right here at the top of this funnel where where things are pouring in is elimination. That’s where the greatest slice of courage is required, where we say this is not what I want to do.
This is not how I want to live. And I am going to make some changes. But removing what is no longer serving you will free up space for God to move in and open up new opportunities. You know, where there’s no margin, where where that where everything, everything in your life is crammed to the very edge. There’s not much room for the Holy Spirit to come and begin to maybe open up and write in some new chapters. Yeah, we don’t want the our history to be written for us by all of the demands that are just simply placed on us by default.
We you know, we want to begin to write our own legacy. We want to begin to design our life in a way that will allow us to blossom as a person, allow you to blossom as a person. And I think some of what I’ve shared here today can help you do that. I really do. And, you know, it may require some change. It may require some some courage to do so. But, you know, as you can see, a lot of these things can be applied both personally and professionally.
So hopefully that was helpful for some of you folks. And, yeah, thanks for taking the time to to be with me today. Well, thanks for listening. Hopefully it’s been an encouragement to you today. If you want to connect any further, you can do so through my website at Davidleemartin.com. Have a great day.