Do you have enough buffer in your life?

Imagine driving to the grocery store (or work) without stopping.

What would it take to do that?

In Essentialism, Greg McKeown writes about doing this exercise with his kids.

“Imagine, I said, that we had to get to our destination three miles away without stopping. Almost at once the children could see the challenge. We couldn’t predict what was going to happen in front of us and around us. We didn’t know how long the light would stay on green or if the car in front would suddenly swerve or put on its brakes.” 

“The only way to keep from crashing was to put extra space between our car and the car in front of us. This space acted as a buffer. It gave us time to respond and adapt to any sudden or unexpected moves by other cars. It allowed us to avoid the friction of violent stops and starts.”

Life is very much the same way. 

We have to get through life without stopping. We have to get through our days, weeks, and months without stopping. We can’t predict what will happen around us. Sometimes we’re forced to respond. And yet, we must keep going.

Have you thoughtfully built buffer, or margin, into your days, weeks, and months? 

Or are you metaphorically tailgating the car ahead of you, just waiting to slam the brakes when it does?


I recently noticed a place where I don’t have enough buffer—going on vacation. Preparing for (and returning from) vacation can sometimes be so hectic that I feel like I need to take a vacation to decompress from preparing for vacation. That’s when it hit me: I don’t have any buffer before I leave for vacation. Then, I started scheduling time for those crucial tasks before I leave (a half day to be exact).

(I often have my clients craft an ideal week—a framework around which we build their days and weeks to maximize effectiveness. But one crucial piece I’ve left out is building in buffer. And from this day forward, I’ll start doing that!)

It’s pretty easy to determine where there isn’t enough buffer.

When did you last get back from running errands at 10 at night? Where do you consistently feel stressed, frantic, hurried, harried, and annoyed? Where are you constantly rushing, even though you know you shouldn’t be? Where are you consistently late, or just barely on time?

Do you need more buffer there? If so, how much?

What's it costing you to continue without ample buffer?

What specific actions will you take in the next week to improve that?

Share them below, with your coach, or with an accountability buddy if you have one! Then, act!