The Importance of Margins

Every weekday morning I either take my daughter to school, or meet her at school (when she’s with her mom.) That way, I can see her, give her a hug, and send her off to first grade.

Even on days when all I need to do is roll out of bed, and drive to school, I still get up an hour before I need to leave. This is because I value margin.

Margin is the space around things. I like to give myself space.

This way I have time to get out of bed, weigh myself, brush teeth, get dressed, stare into space, have breakfast, and check my email. I’m not rushed.

I leave with enough margin to get there sometimes 10 minutes before my daughter and her mom get there. I like not rushing to get to school.

When I take my daughter to school, I still get her up an hour before leaving. She has time to eat, watch TV, and get dressed. She’s far calmer on days we have this margin.

When I’m driving by myself, I usually drive in silence. This is another type of margin. It’s a space where my body can be on autopilot and I have time to think.

Since I get to school early, I have time where I can write a note to myself about the things I thought about.

The rough draft of this essay was dictated to Siri as I sat in my car, waiting for my daughter to arrive.

If I didn’t leave a margin, I wouldn’t have had the time to have these thoughts, let alone to record them.


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Written by Andrew Shell, a Senior Web Engineer/People Lead from Madison, WI.