Beware the barrenness of a busy life. ~Socrates
Now that I’m taking a short breather from training and racing, you’d think I’d have all this extra downtime with which to play, right?
Wrong. Somehow I quickly filled up all those extra hours — and then some.
Granted, launching your own business isn’t exactly conducive to oodles of work/life balance, but being “busy” is something I’ve been pondering a lot lately.
Whether it’s with respect to work, relationships or just life, in general, I grow increasingly anxious as my calendar books out weeks in advance. Days fly by, to-do’s add up, appointments are made…and somewhere lost in that shuffle I find myself hoping that time will stop flying.
So I’ve decided that it’s time to take a stand.
Let’s rebel against our hectic schedules, reassess our priorities and take some time to actually enjoy the life we’re living instead of constantly looking ahead for the one we think we should have.
That’s not to say we should delete our social media accounts, pack up, head for the hills and live entirely off the grid; it’s more about eliminating the automatic ‘yes’ from our vocabulary and being mindful about how, where — and with whom — we choose to spend our time. It’s a precious resource, after all.
Wanna join me? I wrote previously about why I’m slowing down, but I wanted to talk a bit about how with some of my favorite strategies. Here are seven of ’em:
1. Do less.
What sets successful people apart is not that they do a lot, but that they don’t do a lot. I’m making a conscious effort to try to filter out extraneous “stuff,” and deliberately choosing to focus instead on just a few important tasks to make meaningful strides instead of feeling like I’m running in circles.
2. Just breathe.
Life coach, lifestyle guru and friend Ashley Paquin gifted me with an invaluable tool for bringing myself back into the moment. Her “5-2-5” breathing technique — breathe in for five seconds, hold for two, breathe out for five, hold for two, and repeat — works wonders by quieting the nervous system and taking the body out of fight-or-flight mode.
3. Be mindful.
I know, I know. It’s become a bit of a buzzword. But paying attention to my thoughts and sensations — and accepting them, without judgment — has helped me tap into a whole new level of awareness that’s been incredibly helpful and empowering.
4. Limit multitasking.
Sometimes this feels more like an addiction — especially when I’m toggling back and forth between 17 open tabs while on a conference call and absolutely getting nothing accomplished. Going cold-turkey is tough, though, so I’m easing into the art of “single-tasking.”
5. Be present.
Slowing down doesn’t help much if you’re not mindful of what you’re doing at the moment. Again, I put Ashley’s sage advice into play: When I find myself thinking about something I need to do, or something that’s already happened, or something that might happen…I gently tug my mind back to the present moment, like a playful puppy on a leash.
Being constantly tethered to computers and phones where you’re either distracted by or at the mercy of others is hardly conducive to being able to focus. Whether it’s weeknight phone-free dinners or weekend traipsing out of cell service range, Ben and I try to unplug every so often.
7. Enjoy nature.
Warm sun, serene water, salty sea breezes and the damp musk of the forest are all good for the soul. I try to exercise outdoors as much as I can, whether it’s running the trails, hiking the mountains, wading in the river or simply rolling around in the grass with our four-legged family members.
Love this post. I love taking my dog for a walk in the woods in the evening. I have no mobile reception and even if it’s just an hour, it’s me (and Cody) time without the distractions.
Thanks! Yes – I used to do the same when we lived in the ‘burbs, but now that we’re back in the city, the walks are less relaxing. Anywhere with no cell service always feels heavenly, though, right?
I haven’t gotten this “slow down” thing figured out just yet. After Ironman Boulder, I am hoping to figure out how to slow down. I do know that when I was going to yoga more regularly, I was much more mindful of being present and slowing down. Maybe it is time to get back to yoga 😉
Same here! Definitely haven’t mastered any of these…but it’s been fun trying. Yoga’s key – I still feel like I’m getting a workout working on different aspects of strength & flexibility, but it’s a nice vacation for the mind, as well. Wish we lived closer & could go together!
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That would be so awesome!!
I decided that consulting for an automotive supplier 150+ hours per month and getting paid for only 80 hours (although it was a good rate…) wasn’t worth it anymore-so I ended my consulting with this company today! (Coincidence??) Now I can consult a reasonable number of hours for people who appreciate the help, plus open up some free time for taking my grandson for long walks, working in the yard, even more fun reading! I know it isn’t yoga or running or biking, but things will be more fun. The only bad thing is that I get unlimited minutes on that damn phone so I cant go to a cheaper plan with fewer minutes at a lower price anymore!
Congratulations! I’m so proud of you or taking that step – when you say no to one thing, you’re saying yes to something else, and in this case that’s a much more balanced, healthy situation for everyone. Working with people who truly value you and what you do is never asking for too much, and it’ll probably make the work you do going forward feel much more rewarding!
Love these tips! I like doing yoga to slow down 🙂
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