How the Law of 3 Will Create More Margin in Your Life and Work

Recently, a colleague was meeting me out at my house so we could drive out for an appointment.

I had more morning planned meticulously so I’d be ready to get in the car right at 8:30am – the time he was slated to show up.

So at 8:18 when my colleague showed up, I was just finishing up my omelet – cooking it. I knew I’d have that done, then have the teeth brushed (and flossed) and ready to go right at 8:29.59.

But he was early. And I ended up having to shove the eggs in my face right in front of him.

No big deal. We’re very congenial colleagues, so very little awkwardness was involved.

But it hit me: Why do people plan their moments – hours, days, projects – with so little margin?

We schedule ourselves right to the edge so that any small item that throws that schedule out of whack will sink us.

We do this in all types of areas (health, relationships, work habits), but one area many of us do this is with our time. And how we handle our time can build or destroy our relationships or health if we’re not careful.

Luckily, how we handle time is also one of the easiest things for us to control.

A Plan to Conquer Margin Problems

Here’s a plan that I’ve created to help myself. I’m still toying with the name. 30-3-30 works. Or we could call it the ‘Law of 3’.

It goes like this:

  • If you are committed to being somewhere at a certain time, plan to leave 30 minutes early.
  • If you have something due in a week, have it done 3 days early.
  • If you have a project due in 2-12 months, have it done a minimum of 30 days early (or 3 months early if it is on the longer end of that time period).
  • Heck…. if you have a 5 year plan, plan to have it done 3 years early.

Play around with it, but you get the gist. The plan is based on a very famous adage in the time management / personal growth world:

“Parkinson’s Law: Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.”

C. Northcote Parkinson, born July 30, 1909

Try the ideas here on for size. See if they work for you. Target 30 minutes early, 3 days early, 30 days early, 3 months early, 3 years early, etc.

Over time, your dependability, trustworthiness, and effective will all grow. I would also suggest that your confidence in yourself and your value to others will also grow.

Now, I best get going. I have to head out at 10:30, so I’m getting dangerously close to my 10:00am deadline….

Currently Reading: Relentless Solution Focus by Jason Selk

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  1. Okay, so this is going to be a hard one for me. I will try, though, because it makes a lot of sense.

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