If your schedule was a glass of water would it be half-full, filled to the brim, or is it completely overflowing all over the counter? That’s unfortunately where most people are these days, and a filled to the brim schedule can be just as messy. Hidden in the metaphor is a new way to look at the half-full versus half-empty question. We also discuss the implementation of simple solutions when it comes to data management and work flow. Bells and whistles are great sometimes, but nothing beats beats simple and effective.
Some people look at an eight-ounce cup with four ounces of water as being half full. We call them optimists. They see four ounces of water as more than nothing and that’s a good thing. On the other hand, some people see it as half empty. We usually call them pessimists. We call them that because we assume that a full cup is an ideal situation, and anyone who sees the cup as less than that must have a negative mindset. What if, instead, we think of a different way to measure? What if we think differently about a half-empty cup.
Here’s why it matters: A lot of us are walking around trying to fit 10 ounces of life into our eight-ounce cups–metaphorically speaking–and we’re mostly just making a mess. We end up spilling on those around us because we can’t possibly fit everything in our cup. At some point, it isn’t complicated, it’s just physics.
Practically speaking, if your cup is completely full, you have zero margin and that’s a bad thing. Margin is the difference between your capability and your responsibility. Or, said another way, it’s the difference between the time and abilities, and the way you choose to spend them. If you have no margin, it means you have nothing left for anything else. That’s what is so meaningful about the “cup-half-empty” rule. Having room in your cup means you have margin. Margin is breathing room. It gives you space to think and focus. It gives you the ability to be intentional about what you are doing. It even gives you a chance to do more–to do something new.
The goal, then, is pretty simple. If you want to eliminate stress and be more productive at the things that are really important, you need to create margin in your life. You need to have some room so that you can yes when something comes along that would add value to your life. That means you need to get rid of some of what’s already in your cup. That sounds easy, but the reality is, everything that’s already in the cup got there for a reason. It’s not as simple as saying no to the thing, you’re also saying no to the reason it was there in the first place. Even if it’s not easy, however, it’s still important.
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