If you've been following us for long, you are familiar with our favorite hashtag: #makespacetothrive. In a world full of hashtags, this may seem like nothing more than a snippet of motivation, a pithy phrase, or something fun to add on on top of photos. But for us, #makespacetothrive is a reminder of a key practice that moves us from overwhelm—to intentional living. It's become such a core phrase, that when we were brainstorming names for our podcast, it easily made its way to the top of our list.
The story behind the phrase...
Back in 2016, Shelby was living in a non-stop, head-down, shoulder-to-the-grindstone hustle. She and her husband supported their tiny family with a home business and were always behind on deadlines. Every moment taken to just sit down and breathe—even just to eat dinner together without multitasking work—invited a crushing air of guilt into the atmosphere.
But there seemed to be no way to simply hustle more. After brain-dumping a giant todo list that took up seven sheets of paper, Shelby realized she was going to have to upgrade her productivity strategy, or she and her husband would never get ahead of the train.
In her typical style, Shelby turned to Google to help her figure it out. Her husband gave her a couple of books he thought were relevant. They scheduled a meeting with a business mentor. Something, anything had to give. But every tip and tool she found seemed to yield a mere 1% improvement to their current situation. It just wasn't enough to move the needle.
But then she found it. The missing piece. Shelby will tell you that learning this strategy radically altered how she approached her life in that season, and continues to be a practice she benefits from today. This is the element that has proved over and over again to be THE #1 strategy to consistent achievement and success in her life, and it's one she's found so many people completely miss.
And what was this missing ingredient? MARGIN.
Margin is planned white-space for your day, your week, your home, your brain—space to breathe in #allthethings.
In other words, margin gives you SPACE to thrive.
Margin looks like many simple things in our lives:
- daily space to sit down, breathe deep, drink a hot cup of coffee, and have a strategy meeting with ourselves using the prompts in our planner
- leaving for an appointment (or church or event or party) 15 minutes earlier than needed so that when we hit traffic or forget something or have a driveway adventure with a toddler, we're not melting down ourselves
- taking time to re-write your goals in your best handwriting, allowing you to fully emotionally process them and then display them so they stay top-of-mind
- asking: "what can I say 'no' to, cull, or renegotiate about this week to make it easier and calmer?"
- getting up before the children (whether in the morning, or before naptime is over) and doing essential things so they don't get missed
- taking time to exercise instead of putting off health goals until your workload lightens or the kids hit a magical age
- keeping our homes clean, decluttered, and well-managed so that spontaneity feels fun instead of chaotic
- saying "no" to a stretch goal in the business so we can make a nicer dinner than usual for our family just because we want to
- turning off all of the notifications on our phones (except for calls from our husbands and mama, of course) and limiting social media so that new information isn't constantly taking a toll on our emotions
- using our time-blocker to add 15 minutes of padding to the transitions in the day (meals, commutes, meetings, etc.), so we don't have to feel like insane people to get anything done on time
Margin transforms your schedule from a never-ending endurance race to a strategic agenda filled with life-giving rest periods. Margin helps you focus on what's essential, and then protects your intention, so that you can truly show up in the things that matter most. Margin allows you time to process stuff instead of letting it build up and eat away at your mental bandwidth. With a lightened schedule, opportunities to be flexible, and a decluttered mind, margin exponentially reduces your stress—which in turn empowers you to be more creative, make more thoughtful decisions, and tackle complex problems with confidence and energy.
If you've been living a life based on hustling as much as you can from when you wake in the morning to when you crash at night, planning margin into your life will feel like a breath of fresh air. Slowing down is one of the easiest ways you can move yourself from a place of overwhelm, to a place of peace. When you begin by ensuring you're well rested, well nourished (physically + otherwise), and you've distilled your commitments to the things that matter most, you are able to show up for the people and responsibilities in your life with zeal. You will bring a life-filled energy that simply cannot exist when you are run down by a never ending to-do list.
When you build margin into your days and weeks, you are giving yourself (+ your family) the space to truly thrive.