You manage processes in your business and personal life all the time.
In business, it might be sending in the RFP response or checking in with clients. Personally, it might be sending your kid’s school forms or designing and booking that trip to play ultimate worlds in Sardinia, Italy.
Margin in your processes means you have more time than you need.
That time is critical.
Margin is so important in all aspects of our life. In the past few weeks we have talked about having strategic margin, talked about measurable margin or having a margin in our goals, and talked about margin overall, especially how the belief “I do my best under pressure” is not supported by the research. In fact, the opposite is true. Pressure inhibits our cognitive ability by devouring precious thought patterns by overanalyzing our process, time remaining, and other worries. Under pressure, much of our brain is taken up worrying about what and how to do our task.
Timing margin, as result of this, is an incredibly important type of margin to have. Here are two simple ways to have timing margin to avoid the worry and meet the deadline.
The first way of getting timing margin is planning ahead. I hate to bring this up, because I struggle with it. I really have to focus to think about planning ahead. The great news is that when I do, I feel the urgency sooner, and I move things around to allocate the time I need to complete something and complete it well. That margin of time helps immensely.
I find the second way even more powerful for me: Give myself adequate time to start with! For example, say I am working with a client and we have promised something to them. I have such a “pleaser” personality that I typically blurt out the earliest date possible when I am committing to a due date. This is horrible mistake. It can work fine for one task, but I do it for all my tasks. That leads me to overloading my to-dos, and all of it is my fault. I set my deadlines too early. What I try to do now is add a buffer, or margin. Instead of choosing an early date, I will double the time, or pick a due date farther out. This overcompensates for my weakness.
Margin is important, and lack of margin causes stress. Lack of margin in timing is what I experience the most. The good news: it is the easiest to fix.
Whatever your critical business development tasks are, find a way to create some timing margin. Maybe the target for sending in the RFP response should be the day before its due, instead of the moment its due, so you start earlier. Maybe annual client planning should be done in November for the new year instead of February. These small changes, adding just a little margin, make a big difference.
I really struggled creating a clever conclusion here. Maybe I should have planned and given myself some more time work on it.