January is always a frenzy for me.

I reevaluate everything.

What am I doing and why am I doing what I’m doing?

I decided to write with more purpose this year so I gave January the theme of ‘time management/productivity’.

I started the month off by tackling one of my major stressors in time management:  menu planning.

I can’t tell you how relieved I am to have that more under control.

But I know that time management is an issue for you too because this is probably the number 1 question in my inbox.

 “How do you do it all?”

That question stymies me because many of you must assume that I do ‘it all’, whatever ‘it all’ means.

And the irony is?   That’s what I ask all my very productive friends, too.

I’m gonna post our daily schedule later this week but I wanted to start with some general principles I follow when it comes to how I spend my time.


1.  Do a few things well

I love analogies and metaphors.  And it may sound trite to say it but life is like a garden.  It’s better to plant fewer things and tend them well.  I have often done just the opposite.  I get so many things going that I can’t see straight and then I wonder why none of it gets done well.  I’m really trying to learn to narrow my focus.  What is it that I LOVE to do?  How can I schedule my time to do those things and do them well.   I love to read and write.   That is my passion.

But I can’t tell you how many times I’ve looked across the internet at some of my very talented friends and said,  “Maybe I should start a photography business,”  or “Maybe I should start small sewing business,”  or “Maybe I should start singing Tammy Wynette songs for birthday parties.”

But the truth is, my plate is full.  And if I tended well the things I already do like teach and write and keep the home fires burning, I don’t really have time for a new business venture.

This is the year that I really want to hone in on the things that I love and do well.  I want to work hard at perfecting my craft.   There’ll always be time for a karaoke business?!


2.  Work your passion

Notice I didn’t say just ‘find your passion’.   Dust out that part of your brain where your dreams live and ask yourself,  “What was I created to do?”   The answer to that question is easier than you think.  Start with what do you LOVE To do.  What is that one thing that when you do it, you lose all track of time?  That thing you would do even if you weren’t getting paid or recognized for doing it.  Have you found it? 

Like Howard Thurman said above, “What is the thing that makes you come alive?”

As a very wise blogger, Tsh, blogger at Simple Mom,  said once, find the intersection between what you love to do and what you’re good at and you will have found your element—-the zone or sweet spot where the magic happens.

And maybe you already have a full schedule too but I bet if you used your time more wisely, you could make time to work your passion.  Have you always wanted to write music,  get involved in a charity, run for office, write a book?   Then, what steps are you taking to make your dreams become reality.

That song’s not gonna write itself.  Make a commitment to yourself to find what makes you come alive and go do it.

Get up earlier.  Stay up later.  Work hard at perfecting your skills.  They say you have to do something for 10,000 hours or 10,000 times before you perfect it.

That’s alot of hours to work at something.  But your dreams are waiting at the end of that challenging road.  Lace up your shoes and get going!

3.   Schedule margin

I wrote about margin and solitude in my ebook, so I’ll tell you what I said there.

Our lives are chaotic and cluttered and full.  We lack margin. We don’t know how to quieten the buzz. We don’t really even want to. But when we lose margin, we lose our humanity.   Margin is the space between us and our limits. It’s what gives us the time and compassion to listen.   Maybe every good thing that happens, happens here, on the sidelines, in the space between us and our schedules.    And we miss it because we haven’t learned to listen.   Because we’ve made lives with no margin. No room for what might be. No room for the soul to breathe.

And I’ll add to that today.

Margin is where your dreams are born.  Margin is where you find that sweet spot, where your passion intersects with your gifts.

But you won’t find it if  you spend your whole life just going through the motions, just doing the next thing.

Get out a pen and paper and find a quiet spot.  Write down the things that you really want to do with your life.

And start making time for the things that matter.


I hope you’ll join me in this month’s link-up!  We’re meeting here this Wednesday, January 30th with posts related to any of the ways you’re making time work for you.  If you’ve been doing the meal planning, link that up.  If you’ve written a New Year’s post about your plans and schemes, link that up.  If you’re pondered how you can use your time to serve others well, link that up.   Almost anything goes here and we can’t wait to see what you’re up to!

**I’m working on making a button for you but for now, you could just drag the above photo onto your desk top and add it to your post.


Books that have helped me schedule my time better are:

1.  One Bite at a Time by Tsh Oxenreider.  I also just purchased her book Organized Simplicity: The Clutter-Free Approach to Intentional Living.
I love her blog, her podcast, everything she says and does.  She’s my mentor and doesn’t even know it.  It’s on my to-do list to tell her how much she’s inspired and helped me.

2.  Crystal Paine’s ebook,21 Days To A More Disciplined Life has been a big help, too.  Crystal has a great blog, Money Saving Mom, about home management and saving money.  You’ll be inspired.

3.  Micheal Hyatt’s ebook Life Plan, which you get free for signing up to his email service.  I also love his podcasts.  He’s very inspiring and offers lots of practical advice on productivity.


31 comments on “Working Hard, Making Margin {on purpose}”

  1. Both in my garden and in life I have planted too many things and not tended them well. Time management and finding margins are a priority with me this year. Taking on too much causes stress and anxiety and steals my peace and joy. I want to have time to just be and enjoy my family.
    As always-awesome links.

    • Ruth and Edie, I really loved the garden analogy. So true, experimenting is good and fun, but the prettiest and healthiest gardens are full of masses of just a few really well tended plants. Love it. Working on it.

      • sometimes I think i’m learning it and then i take on twelve more projects:)))
        so good to contemplate though. love you both and so glad you meet me here everyday!

        • Edie, I’m so glad I stumbled onto your blog! I look forward to visiting a lot more, and reading your new book! 🙂
          Blessings to you and yours and Happy New Year!
          <3 Tawnya

    • Ruth, You are a kindred spirit! I feel exactly the same way! (btw, I call my life, my garden!) I love living life amongst the flowers and butterflies…I choose JOY!
      This is the only comment I have time to read, and I’m so glad I read yours! Blessings to you and yours!
      Tawnya 🙂

  2. I just stumbled upon your blog and I wanted to let you know the pics of your house of gorgeous!! If I had the skill, ability and money to redo my house, I would love it to look like yours!! I love the paint colors and the pops of colors with your decorations. Anyway, just wanted to pop in and say hello!

    • awww, thanks so much aja!
      we use every square inch of it—it’s the most lived in house around.
      that’s the best part:)))

  3. I’m right there with you on wanting to do everything! I am trying to focus in on my favorite few things, especially with the limited time I have with 2 tiny ones to enjoy! i think I realized this past week for sure that I’m actually called and cut out to homeschool (classically, of course : )). It was confirmed when my husband said: “you won’t have time for all your different projects though.” and I could easily explain that homeschooling was the “culmination of all my projects and hobbies.”

  4. Edie I wanted to let you know that today’s post showed up under the header archives. Such an important concept for women.

  5. Since October when you first wrote your series on hospitality, the post on “margin” has stood out for me. Did I ever tell you that? And then since re-reading it all in your gloriously beautiful e-book. again… Margin. It is resonating with me Edie, and I appreciate this calm, thoughtful post today so much. xoxoxo Have the best Monday ever! Oklahoma is pretending like it’s Spring today, so I am wrapping up computer tasks as quickly as possible to get out with the animals and gardens!

    • we’re pretending the same thing, Marie!
      and yes, i’m still fighting for margin—-and losing sometimes, but still fighting!

  6. Inspiring words for my Monday morning. For real! Because my word for 2013 is Purpose — living ON purpose and WITH purpose, you have truly given me lots to think about. And not just in today’s post. Really, I love ’em all ! You are so encouraging and surely have the gift of exhortation — you always gently pull me up a little higher. Thank you for that. And for sharing your gifts in blogland. I love it !!! I am going to spend a little “quiet time” this morning and assess things. Thanks for sharing. Have a fantastic Monday ! 🙂

  7. Have MERCY, I LOVE you!!!! Tammy Wynette and ALL! I don’t have enough “time” to read this at the moment, so I will be finishing it tonight- Margin, right?!!!!! 🙂 Thank you, Edie, thank you!

  8. Edie, You read my mind this morning. Thank you so much for what you do. Lubbock is also pretending it is Spring, loving it. I have always said that “I take the scenic route”. Although that is not bad, I am beginning to realize that I need to be more intentional, and zero into my passion. I try to focus into too many things. With your help I am being more productive and getting things that have been “hanging” done so that I can live life to the fullest. Bless you for being you.

  9. I loved these thoughts about our dreams. I’ve been working through the process of identifying a lot of my own dreams lately. It’s a fun journey to try and nail down what makes me come alive – and a bit of a challenge to let the rest of the stuff fall aside. It’s so easy to feel like you have to do all things well. This was a huge encouragement. Thanks!

  10. “But you won’t find it if you spend your whole life just going through the motions, just doing the next thing.” Edie, this sentence just slapped me in the face. This is my life. I don’t want it to be that way, but each day just runs into the next. And the problem is, I don’t have dreams. Sad. I don’t even know what I’m good at. Because of different things I’ve read lately, I’ve been praying for God to show me a direction for my life, because I truly don’t believe I am doing what I was created to do. Problem is, I don’t know what I was created to do and life is so busy, I feel like there’s no time to figure it out. BUT, I believe God sent me this blog. You are testing me and making me think. Thank you. I wish I could sit with you on your sunporch and just a have a talk with you, but i will settle with reading your blog 🙂 I’m sure everyone who reads this wishes they could sit on that porch and talk to you 🙂

  11. Great advice. I know that I need to schedule more margin into my day. My husband and I were just talking about that yesterday. It’s important to remember that we can’t do it all, that it’s better to just do a few things well, that we’re really passionate about.

  12. Edie,
    Thanks so much for this post. It’s exactly what I needed today. I’ve been a little down lately because I don’t seem to have enough time to pursue my passions like I’d like. I work full time in a job where I don’t want to be…all while maintaining a household (which I love!) and furthering my education. I would love to be able to work from home to replace the income from my current job, so I’m trying to figure that out too.

    I know what my passions are and blogging allows me to share alot of that. This year I’m trying to live with more purpose and to accomplish some of my goals. My son is in college now, so my empty nest allows me a little more “me” time.

    Anyway, thanks again for the post. I’ve been following your blog for some time now…I just don’t usually comment. But you know what? I think I’m going to from now on. I get so much encouragement and inspiration from the blogs that I follow! Why not make more time for conversation in blog land ? 🙂

  13. I have been working on hard decluttering in 2012… I was happy with my achievement during the first time of the year, but with the economic situation and the global crisis, I want more, I want more safety, less insecurity, and I will relaunch my decluterring, a truer life, project… Wish me strength!

  14. I love (and need) this… “Do a few things well”. Because I, for one, try to be Super Woman and sometimes that just doesn’t work out!! Great reminder!
    Also, I subscribed to your email but didn’t get an email about this post! ::sighs:: I am sure we will figure out this technology someday!
    Giveaway for your eBook (and a sassy apron to match!!) still going over on my site! Yahoo!! 🙂

  15. Your posts in this new year theme have been really meeting me where I am. And I swear I was going to ask you “Could you please tell me how you do all of this? Could you give me a rough outline of what your day looks like?!” I look forward to reading that. And this post, ah there is so much to glean. You’re MY mentor and don’t even know it. The question “what steps are you taking to make your dream a reality” spoke to me. I know it’s not necessarily a new thought or idea, but today it motivated me. I sit paralyzed in fear. And where does fear originate? Well, it ain’t from God. Perfect love drives away fear. Fear is coming from the opposite direction of God. So thank you for a little kick in the pants! 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *