Maybe We're Playing the Wrong Game Part 2
Last week we talked about exchanging The Hurry Up game of Life to The Unhurried Life, read it here. I can’t even pretend to give you a step-by-step guide to moving slower, but I can definitely share a few things I've found to be helpful and effective in my own life and maybe you can adopt a few of them to see if they work for your life. Some things might require you to change some major things, but as Rome wasn't built overnight, your changes can take some time as well.
Without further ado: 9 Tips for a Slower Paced Life
1. Do less. Cut back on your projects, on your task list, on how much you try to do each day. Focus not on quantity but quality. Pick 3-4 important things — or even just one important thing — and work on those first. Do the items that you aren't excited to do first and save smaller, routine tasks for later in the day. The objective is to give yourself time to focus.
2. Have fewer meetings. Meetings are usually a big waste of time. And they eat into your day, forcing you to squeeze the things you really need to do into small windows, and making you rush. Try to have blocks of time with no interruptions, so you don’t have to rush from one meeting to another. When possible, I schedule my meetings in one afternoon or day, spaced 45 minutes apart, longer if I'm commuting. See tip 4.
This can also be applied to non-business meetings, which for the record, I don't think are necessarily a big waste of time. I do try to group my meetings with friends on the same day for the same reasons mentioned above.
3. Practice disconnecting. Have times when you turn off your devices and your email notifications and what-not. Schedule time with no phone calls, when you’re just creating, or when you’re just spending time with someone, or just reading a book, or just taking a walk, or just eating mindfully. You can even disconnect for (gasp!) an entire day, and you won’t be hurt, people won't forget you. I promise.
4. Give yourself time to get ready and get there. If you’re constantly rushing to appointments or other places you have to be, it’s because you don’t allow enough time in your schedule for preparing and for traveling. Give yourself time for this stuff. If you think it only takes you 10 minutes to get ready for work or a date, perhaps give yourself 30-45 minutes so you don’t have to shave in a rush or put on makeup in the car. If you think you can get there in 10 minutes, perhaps give yourself 2-3 times that amount so you can go at a leisurely pace and maybe even get there early.
5. Practice being comfortable with sitting, doing nothing. One thing I’ve noticed is that when I have to wait, I become impatient or uncomfortable. I want my phone or at least a magazine, because standing and waiting is either a waste of my time or something I'm not used to doing without feeling self-conscious. Instead, I'm working on just sitting there, looking around, soaking in your surroundings. Try standing in line and just watching and listening to people around you. It's pretty interesting what you see. It takes practice, but after awhile, you’ll do it with a smile.
6. Realize that if it doesn’t get done, that’s OK. There’s always tomorrow. And yes, I know that’s a frustrating attitude for some of you who don’t like laziness or procrastination or living without firm deadlines, but it’s also reality. I'm not talking about putting things off on purpose, but to diligently go through your tasks and if you reach the end of the day without checking a task off, it's ok. You will be fine. The world likely won’t end if you don’t get that task done today. Your boss might get mad, but the company won’t collapse and the life will inevitably go on. And the things that need to get done will.
7. Start to eliminate the unnecessary. When you do the important things with focus, without rush, there will be things that get pushed back, that don’t get done. And you need to ask yourself: how necessary are these things? What would happen if I stopped doing them? How can I eliminate them, delegate them, automate them? If you're trying to do everything by yourself, you're doing it wrong.
8. Practice mindfulness. Simply learn to live in the present, rather than thinking so much about the future or the past. When you eat, fully appreciate your food. When you’re with someone, be with them fully. When you’re walking, appreciate your surroundings, no matter where you are.
9. Slowly eliminate commitments. We’re overcommitted, which is why we’re rushing around so much. I don’t just mean with work — projects and meetings and the like. Parents have tons of things to do with and for their kids, and we overcommit our kids as well. Many of us have busy social lives, or civic commitments, or are coaching or playing on sports teams. We have classes and groups and hobbies. But in trying to cram so much into our lives, we’re actually deteriorating the quality of those lives. Slowly eliminate commitments — pick 4-5 essential ones, and realize that the rest, while nice or important, just don’t fit right now. Either finish out those commitments or politely inform people, over time, that you don’t have time to stick to those commitments and be mindful of new commitments. It's ok to decline anything new that comes your way. Keep in mind to let your new yes's be a yes and your no's be a no.
Try these things out. Life is better when unhurried. And given the fleeting nature of this life, why waste even a moment by hurrying through it?