If you feel like you have no time to catch up, you are not able to get a handle on your life priorities, you seem unable to find work life balance or feel overwhelmed and stressed, then let me give you a simple tip to start releasing the load: DO LESS.
Sounds simple? Well in fact, once we get used to doing many things continually, one of the hardest things to do is to change the rhythm and dynamics of it. In fact, we develop a habit of always being busy, and we don’t really know what to do with ourselves if we are left with a few minutes to spare; boredom kicks in, and in no time we are off trying to find things to keep us busy. Sounds familiar?
Let me explain what I mean by doing less, and believe me this is something that I intentionally work on often myself. You need to start doing less of those activities that fill up your day in what you may believe gives your mind and body a rest, when in fact it does the opposite, such as the following:
– TV watching (at the end of the day, when all you really feel like doing is passing out in the sofa and staring at the screen). There is absolutely nothing wrong with watching something you enjoy, as long as it is not taking over your entire evening and it is not taking time away from doing things that really need doing. As they say with food, enjoy TV “with moderation”.
– Continuous checking of emails, internet, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. In general any gadget that will have you looking at something that is really not relevant or a priority for you. We are developing very hard to tackle habits regarding the use of technology, which steals precious time from our daily lives and steals quality time that could be used to make real connections with those around you.
– Staying behind at work because you didn’t finish your work, because everyone else is staying behind, because you want to look like you are working hard, because you may actually be working really hard, because you wouldn’t know what to do with yourself if you went home anyway, because you can stay behind and check more emails and Facebook…sigh! Believe me when I tell you that some of the greatest work won’t come out of a long day when your energy and motivation has been wiped out.
So what to do? Let me give you a few ideas and action steps that are proven to help you break out of your “crazy busy unproductive” schedule and help you find more time to do those things that you really want to do:
- Aim to check emails or social media a maximum of twice a day – say mid morning and early evening. Let people know that you will be spending less time online, so they know if they really need to contact you they can either find you or text you. If this seem like a mammoth task to you right now, maybe reduce the time you spend in the virtual environment by a quarter, followed by half within 2 weeks, and so on, to the point where you feel in control of social media, not the other way around.
- Delete / stop following / unsubscribe from people / companies or resources that are not providing you with updates or information that you need in order to achieve the things you need or want. Spend some time scanning through your contacts and subscribed resources and commit to delete those you don’t need, that only clutter your space and your mind, stealing you from much needed time.
- First thing in the morning, stop yourself from going to your mobile phone, your ipad or any gadget that will tempt you to check for unnecessary information. Take a minute to do some deep breathing whilst lying in bed, to oxygenate your body and clear your mind. Create the intention to have a good day and commit to spend your day as present as possible. If possible, sit down for a nutritious breakfast with your loved ones and connect in a way that will help you start your day calm and ready to tackle the day ahead. Create a daily routine where you follow all the above steps, and within a few weeks, you will start creating new habits that support your ability to stay present and conduct activities that provide you with satisfaction and energise you.
- Instead of watching TV, commit a few days per week to practise a few minutes of stretching, yoga, meditation, praying or whatever it is that allows you to become calm and relaxed, followed by 20-30min reading a book about a subject that you are passionate about. Before going to sleep, get into the habit of thinking of at least two great things that happened to you during that day. This exercise will help you go to sleep on a great note and will assist you in having a good night’s sleep. Avoid watching TV or using your iPad or any gadgets right before going to bed and the light emitted by most of these gadgets will trick your brain into thinking that it’s still day time and you will having difficulties having a good night’s sleep. As with early morning routines, create a structure for bed time, so that you create new healthier habits that will have you sleeping better, having more energy during your day and shifting your mindset onto a more positive and mindful one.
- Make time to eat your meals sitting down and eating your food mindfully, away from any diversions. Sit at a table and pay attention to the food that you are eating and what your body is telling you, and stop once you start getting signs that your body has had enough. Or sit with others and enjoy a healthy meal with other people that you enjoy conversing with.
- If you are feeling tired, rather than collapsing in the sofa, push yourself to get up and give your body some activity. Some examples depending on your fitness level would be to take a 20min brisk walk, go for a run, swim, ride, play ball with your children, whatever it is that will have your heart racing. Ask friends to do it with you and take advantage of the opportunity to connect and enjoy yourself.
- Commit to exercising at least 3 times per week as this will also help you create a more balanced approach and enjoyment of life; you will also feel better and will have more energy during your day. If you are surrounded by nature, try not to use any technology to keep you occupied. Engage your senses around you…look at the colours and textures around you, take notice of the smells, listen to all the noises around you, etc. If you exercise in a gym or a busy place, listen to music that makes you feel good, or listen to podcasts about matters that you want to learn about. Or better yet, take a friend with you and push each other, but also have a laugh. There’s nothing better than being accountable to someone else!
Does all the above seem like you will be doing more in your already busy day? It may seem like that for a little while until you manage to break out of those habits that are holding back from enjoying your life.
Just one tip about change in general. Whenever you start working on changing things in your life, please don’t be too hard on yourself. Breaking out of a habit does take time and no doubt you will have set backs. Don’t let that be the excuse to ruin all the good things you are doing to help you improve your quality of life. If you have a bad day and you don’t manage to do all you set out to achieve, don’t judge yourself, tomorrow will be a new day and you will have the opportunity to choose your actions once again, till the time when you new habits become your way of living, naturally.
So what are you ready to commit to changing today? How could you create more quality time in your life to do those things you really want to do?