Thinking Out Loud

December 7, 2015

Building Margin into Your Schedule

About five years ago in a Sunday morning service our pastor was talking about the importance of having margin in your life. Margin to hear from God, to wait before Him and to expect miracles. That’s vital at a time of year when margin is slim because of the busy-ness of the season.

But then he picked up his Bible and talked about the margin that exists on each page of the book; space to add your own notes and record observations. I’ve thought of margin on several levels but never from a printing or graphic arts perspective, a field in which I have some familiarity.

In printing, margin is necessary because sometimes the paper gets trimmed a little off center, just like the time runs out on some days (and weeks, and months, and years) a little unexpectedly. Without some white space, there is the risk the text would simply get cut off.

But if your house is like mine, you probably got flyers, circulars, brochures or whatever they call them where you live delivered to your door or mailbox; and if you examine different types of printed matter, you see that in many cases there is no margin at all because the photo or background color is meant to look like it runs right to the edge. In fact it runs a good inch (2 cm) over the edge and is then trimmed back.

In graphic arts, this is called a bleed, and the designer will markup the text with the word ‘bleed’ to tell the printing people that the background gradient or pattern should overrun the page to be cut to size in the trim process.

And that, is my message to my readers for this Christmas, straight from the graphic art and design industry: If you don’t have margin, you bleed.

[Yes, it’s pithy remarks like that which keep readers coming back!]

If we don’t (literally) take the time to build margin into the busyness of the holiday season, we pay the price for it. If we try to do too much, there’s pain. If we fail to accomplish essentials we should have prioritized, there’s tears.

no vacancyWhich is odd considering the potentially frantic story of incarnation — in a crowded village that has run out of hotel accommodation because of a census registration — begins on what we regard as such a peaceful, silent, holy night. Christmas card images look so tranquil, but if you’ve ever driven into a town as we have only to learn that every motel and hotel is booked because of a sports tournament or a convention, you know that for Mary and Joseph, it was a very, very stressful day.

The celebration of the birth of Christ was never intended to drive us crazy on an annual basis. We’re celebrating the coming of Christ, not reliving the search for lodging that led up to it. Slow down — you might just hear from God — and take a cue from the printing industry: If there’s no margin, you bleed.

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December 4, 2011

When There’s No Margin in Your Life

I want to extrapolate something different that was triggered by something our pastor said this morning.

He was talking about the importance of having margin in your life.  Margin to hear from God, to wait before Him and to expect miracles.  That’s vital at a time of year when margin is slim because of the busy-ness of the season. 

But then he picked up his Bible and talked about the margin that exists on each page; space to add your own notes and record observations.  I’ve thought of margin on several levels but never from a printing or graphic arts perspective.

In printing, margin is necessary because sometimes the paper gets trimmed a little off center, just like the time runs out on some days (and weeks, and months, and years) a little unexpectedly.  Without some white space, there is the risk the text would simply get cut off.

But if your house is like mine, you probably got flyers, circulars, brochures or whatever they call them where you live delivered to your door or mailbox; and if you examine different types of printed matter, you see that in many cases there is no margin at all because the photo or background color is meant to look like it runs right to the edge.  In fact it runs a good inch (2 cm) over the edge and is then trimmed back.

In graphic arts, this is called a bleed, and the designer will markup the text with the word ‘bleed’ to tell the printing people that the background gradient or pattern should overrun the page to be cut to size in the trim process.

And that, is my message to my readers for this Christmas, straight from the graphic art and design industry:  If you don’t have margin, you bleed.

[insert rim shot here]

If we don’t (literally) take the time to build margin into the busyness of the holiday season, we pay the price for it.  If we try to do too much, there’s pain.  If we fail to accomplish essentials we should have prioritized, there’s tears. 

Which is odd considering the potentially frantic story of incarnation — in a crowded village that has run out of hotel accommodation because of a census registration —  begins on what we regard as such a peaceful, silent night.

The celebration of the birth of Christ was never intended to drive us crazy on an annual basis.  Slow down, and take a cue from the printing industry: If there’s no margin, you bleed.

January 29, 2010

Leaving Room in Your Schedule versus Just Saying No

The title of this post really highlights the difference in approach between two very popular books of the last decade, Margin by Richard Swenson and Boundaries by Henry Cloud and John Townsend.    The former’s premise was that you needed to leave some ‘headroom’ or margin in your life, you can’t over commit or over schedule or overtax your energies.    The latter took the more bottom line “just say ‘no'” approach.

Boundaries totally outstripped Margin in sales, but this month, Richard Swenson is back with In Search of Balance:  Keys to a Stable Life (Navpress).    Since Nav doesn’t exactly do the book review thing with bloggers, here’s what their own marketing states about the title:

Most of us live lives of “quiet desperation,” as Henry David Thoreau put it, except we’re no longer so quiet about it. When exactly did “all stress, all the time” replace the “green pastures and still waters”? And what can we do about it? We try to manage all the details thrown our way, but we lack a sense of calm and steadiness at the center. Richard A. Swenson, MD, author of the best-selling book Margin, helps us understand the dangers of living in a post-balance world and gives us hope for recovering a foundational sense of equilibrium.

Dr. Swenson offers not only important organizing principles for making sense of our priorities but also scores of practical tips for finding rest and contentment in a world that emphasizes materialism and busyness. His advice is grounded in the daily realities we all experience, but his wisdom has been honed by the big-picture perspective of an exhaustive study of the stresses of modern life.

April 23, 2009

Driving Against The Clock

Filed under: Christianity, family — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 2:57 pm

whatever-nexxt-clockFor some reason, it seems that every time we get in the car to go somewhere we are in a hurry.    The digital clock on the dashboard is a reminder that in order to get where we need to be on time, we really need to push it.   We call this situation, “Driving against the clock.”

First of all, I know some of you are thinking, “You need to ‘back-time’ your trips.”  Be assured, I am the master of back-timing.   I lay in bed at 4:00 AM thinking of what events need to take place before we leave and set the target departure time accordingly.

But then some of you are thinking, “In addition to ‘back-timing’ it, you need to also add a ‘buffer zone,’ some additional margin for unexpected delays.”  This is also good advice and we do that also.   Frankly, I’d rather arrive relaxed ten minutes early than be rushing in late.

Of course, some of you will say, “In addition to ‘back-time’ and ‘buffer zone,’ you need to analyze what throws you off your targets.   Are the events you need to do before you leave given sufficient time?   Should you set a larger buffer margin?”   These are good questions, perhaps you should go into the time management business.   Trust me, I’ve done the analysis and the problem is always something different every time.

Finally, some of you will dissect my original statement and say, “Obviously the problem is that you are driving against the clock; you need to let your wife drive and be free of the responsibility and pressure that comes with being the driver.”   While my wife will agree with this, and whereas it sounds good in theory; in practice I am a more restless and impatient passenger than I am a restless and impatient driver.   Being the driver at least keeps my hands and eyes busy.

Some day perhaps, I will ask God a question.   I’ll set it up by mentioning that in American football (for you Brits, it’s the one we play with a rugby-shaped ball) there are 50 yards on either side of the field.   In Canadian football there is an extra ten yards due to a “Center yard line;” though it’s probably spelled “Centre yard line.”   So my question would be, “Why couldn’t there have been a center-hour; midway through the day, that was neither morning nor afternoon, but a middle hour just for people like me to catch up?

At that point, He will probably look around and ask if anyone else has any questions.

So what have we learned today?   At the end of the day, we’re rarely late for anything.   That’s good, I suppose.   We just arrive totally frazzled.

Whatever clock sold at nexxt.com

Today’s Bonus — The Shack: Some Balanced Comments

With all The Shack-bashing taking place online, I thought posting links to these two reviewers would provide a bit of balance:


http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/blog/2009/04/the-shack-liking-it-wont-send-you-to-hell/
and
http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/blog/2009/04/seven-more-points-about-the-shack/#comments
Well known blogger C. Michael Patton at Parchment and Pen
along with 63 comments and over 200 comments respectively

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