Gate to gate is an airline term.  It is how they measure on-time arrivals of airplanes.  I have been told airlines typically added 20 minutes to every flight to account for taxiing to and from the runway on takeoffs and landings. Anybody who has flown from Lincoln (LNK) to Denver (DEN) and arrived 35 minutes early can verify this practice.

It gives the airlines and the passengers margin for being on time.

It is also how the Chapin family spends our time and it is how Wilmar Electric predicts task completion on our projects.

You might think this means we are putting fluff in our schedules.  Not quite.  We are against waste and wouldn’t inject it into our day.

For example, when somebody asks me how long it takes to get to work, I measure the time it takes to get from my kitchen to my office desk.  I don’t just calculate the drive time.  I judge when I need to leave for an event based on what time it is, so when I notice the clock has reached the magic time to leave, I get up and head out.

Just like airplanes don’t leave the gate and go directly into the air, I need to put on a jacket, potentially load my car, and back out of the driveway.  There is a certain amount of preparation that takes place.

On Wednesday, when I had an 8 am appointment a 20-minute drive from my house, I knew I’d need to leave my kitchen at 7:30 am.  I was ready to leave at 7:20 am. So, I found something to do with my time for 10 minutes. I usually read the paper after work, but this day,  I read the paper for 10 minutes before work because I had a margin of time to do so.

When I got to my appointment 8 minutes early, they said “you’re first in line, so we will get you right in and out”.  My appointment ended 25 minutes earlier than expected. Now I had an extra 35 minutes in my day!  Huge bonus.

The fancy word for all of this is “margin.”

My entire life moves exactly like this.  From time to time, unexpected things come up: both pleasant and unpleasant.  Either way, by putting margin in my life, I have found it leads to two results.

One – I get more done because my schedule is set up to help me know how much time I have available.  When things go well, I can move toward a fun free time event.  When things go wrong, I have margin built into the schedule to adjust without having to sacrifice other things.

Two – I am less stressed because I’m seldom pressed for time.  When things go well, I get to move toward a fun free time event.

The people around me can count on me. When I commit to something, the people in my life know I will deliver.  When I commit to a time, I show up on time.

From the outside, the structured life might seem uptight, rigid, and void of fun.  From the inside, the structured life is relaxing.