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Years ago my mother in law gave me the book, “Margin” by Dr. Richard A. Swenson) and I absolutely loved reading it!  I have since read it again (and I rarely read a book twice).  I have also seriously considered re-reading it every year so that I do not forget the advice and guidance it gives.

I think everyone could stand to add more margin to their lives and this book helps you understand why it’s so important and how to make it happen.

Dr. Swenson does a great job of giving you simple and practical ways to give your life more margin and also live a more meaningful life.   He talks about simplicity and lists out many ways to make your life simpler.  Below are shortened versions of his lists, but you get the idea.  I have these lists saved in my Evernote files and I also have them written in my daily planner so that I can reference them often.  They are great reminders on how to simplify, slow down, love well,  be present, focus on one thing at a time, and enjoy all of the blessings in life.

  1. De-accumulate
  2. Give things away
  3. Avoid over indulging
  4. Avoid impulse buying
  5. Do not uby anything if the time and money spent on it competes with family or service to God
  6. Avoid debt
  1. Slow down
  2. Do not exhaust your emotional bank account
  3. Say no
  4. Schedule free time
  5. Expect the unexpected
  6. Create buffer zones (add extra time around meetings, appointments, etc)
  7. Enjoy peaceful music
  8. Control / restrict / eliminate t.v. watching and web surfing
  1. Cultivate closeness with God
  2. Schedule simple date nights with your spouse
  3. Teach your children
  4. Practice regular hospitality
  5. Help each other – emphasize service
  6. Encourage others
  7. Always speak the truth & you’ll never be concerned with your memory
  8. Don’t judge
  1. Send cards of encouragement and appreciation when others are not expecting it
  2. Be grateful for things large and small
  3. Emphasize a joyful life
  4. Appreciate creation
  1. Make the Bible central – read it everyday
  2. Meditate and memorize
  3. Pray
  4. Encourage simple worship
  1. Make your commitments simple
  2. Don’t overwork
  3. Fast periodically from media, food and people
  4. Simplify Christmas
  5. Write down what you need to remember – forget everything else
  1. Exercise
  2. Bike or walk
  3. Make recreation active rather than passive
  4. Avoid over eating
  5. Frequent a co-op
  6. Buy local from the source
  7. Garden
One of his last statements towards the end of the book is:  “All the commandments in scripture reduce to Christ’s Great Commandment and the Great Commandment reduces to one concept:  LOVE

You should definitely check out this book and start creating more margin (i.e. peace) in your life so you have plenty of time and energy for what really matters!


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