Less Is More: Why We Need Margins in Our Lives

Picture Of A Woman In A Business Suit With Long ShadowFrom time to time, I think about learning events I’ve particularly relished. I fondly recall seeing great presenters I admire or learning about a topic I’m committed to. The most profound takeaways I have from this investment of my time and attention are often simple statements I carry forward and integrate in my life. For example, as I reflect on a valuable writing seminar I attended four years ago, I recall an expression used a number of times by the trainer: less is more.

Our trainer first said this line during a writing activity. At scheduled times during the day, we would read our drafts aloud and receive feedback—which invariably centered around cutting extraneous words and phrases, since less is more. We would write the feedback in the margins of our papers to inform the next draft.

That was one of my learnings from the workshop: we all need margins. The trainer wanted us to write as succinctly and clearly as possible; hence her less is more advice. But in the frame of margins, I see less is more as a gift for other facets of my life, too.

  • With margins, what matters is surrounded and protected.
  • With margins, we can add or expand when needed.
  • With margins, we can highlight what impacts us.

This happens with the written word, of course. It also happens with the manner in which we schedule our day—is it too full?—or share in conversations—is enough time afforded for thoughtful response?

From planning to devote a day to writing, to taking the time to talk to a family member, to delivering service to a client, do you have margins? Are you allowing less to be more?

About the Author

Mary Ellen Sailer headshotMary Ellen Sailer, Ed.D., is a Coaching Solutions Partner with The Ken Blanchard Companies’ Coaching Services team. Since 2000, Blanchard’s 130 coaches have worked with over 14,500 individuals in more than 250 companies throughout the world. Learn more at Blanchard Coaching Services. And check out Coaching Tuesday every week at Blanchard LeaderChat for ideas, research, and inspirations from the world of executive coaching.

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