Our world has become full of people suffering from 'rushing syndrome'. It has become the 'thing' to be so busy we cannot think straight. We are constantly moving from one task to the next... and to the next... and then to the next. And if we are lucky there may be some sleep/nutrition in between tasks.
I used to pride myself on how busy I was.
How satisfying it felt to juggle a million balls in the air and very rarely drop one! When people asked me how things were going in my business I would always answer 'busy'... as if it was a good thing. Because in all honesty I believed that in order to be successful I had to be busy. And if I wasn't busy - then clearly I wasn't working hard enough!
But over the past twelve months I have realised that being 'busy' is not sustainable. And actually, instead of dropping just one of the balls I was juggling... the whole lot came down!
Being busy did not give me the quality time I wanted with my friends and family. It did not allow me to do the things I really enjoyed. It actually lead me to feel frazzled, exhausted and not very healthy... which for a Health Coach and Yoga Teacher promoting a holistic lifestyle... is kind of an issue!
Teaching myself to do less
And so I am learning, very slowly, to do less - but with more focus. To practice mindfulness in all aspects of my life. To really listen to the things that make me feel good and allowing myself to do more of them. No guilt, no 'shoulds', just pleasure.
Yes... I still sit there while running a bath and wonder what I could be 'doing' to use those few minutes productively. But before I wouldn't have allowed myself the time to even have a bath... progress.
Yes... I still sit in the mornings with my hot water and lemon pondering my to do list. But before I would have been at my desk with my mug multitasking... progress.
Baby steps remember. As with any lifestyle changes - in order to make them long lasting - you have to take things at a pace that suits you.
Who knows... one day maybe I will be able to simply sit down and do nothing... like really nothing... but I am not quite there yet!
Why do we feel that we have to be working so hard and feeling exhausted all of the time? Who decided that 'busyness' was such a badge of honour?
Here are three things that I have found helpful in my quest to be less busy, but more focused...
- Booking a non negotiable slot in my diary for me time. If writing 'time off' or 'rest' feels too indulgent - make up an imaginary person or recurring 'important' meeting and that way if anyone sees you open your diary they won't even know that it is actually a date for yourself.Write it in pen and under no circumstances change it - if someone asks if you are free on that time - do not be tempted to put their needs ahead of yours. That date is as vital - if not more so - than any family/friend/work appointments.
- Downloading the free Insight Timer app on my phone was a game changer for me. You can select a short guided meditation, plug in your earphones and even if you have to lock yourself in a bathroom - take a few moments just for you. I NEVER feel worse for this.The best thing is that you don't have to 'do' anything - all you need to 'do' is sit (on the floor or in a chair) and listen to the words or music that you choose. You can just let your mind and body take the lead. Sometimes you may think of a million excuses not to do it, other times you will find a bit of peace. Commit to it once a day and you will notice a difference within a short period of time. The easiest time is first thing in the morning before you check your phone for emails/messages/Facebook...
- Keeping track of how the things I do every single day make me feel. If something is continuously aggravating you or making you feel stressed out - perhaps there is something you can do to change it? Or if it isn't possible to change the thing itself, can you learn to change your mindset around it?I recently realised that every time I sat at my desk in the afternoon to do some computer based admin I got irritable and agitated and ended up not achieving anything - cue more frustration. I realised by noticing this and keeping track of what made me feel this way, that if I was going to do admin - it had to be first thing in the morning to get it out of the way and then when I did sit down in the afternoons I could be completely creative and enjoy the process far more.
We don't have to struggle
I have spent so long believing that in order to make progress I have to struggle and find things hard. I have to be tired. I have to be stressed. I have to be anxious. When things feel like they are going well and I am enjoying them it feels like I need to bring in some kind of hard work to 'come back to earth' - instead of just enjoying the moment.
Being busy is often a distraction. It certainly was for me. I didn't know how to sit and be still. I was terrified to be left alone with just my thoughts. I felt lazy and unsatisfied when I wasn't 'doing' things. And even in those moments when I allowed myself to sit - my mind would race with thoughts telling me I 'should' be doing something else.
But just like all of the things in life... it is a practice. Start with baby steps like the ones above, and then see if you can introduce more and more times when you are doing less, but focusing more.
It seems to contradict itself... do less to achieve more... but I will let you in to a surprising secret... it actually does work!
I would love to know your thoughts on this. Is it something you struggle with? Or do you have it nailed? Leave a comment below or get in touch to share your viewpoint.
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