Slow Down to Get More Done
I just had a crazy week. I traveled to New Orleans for a long weekend, and then came back and immediately coached at a Ladies Rock Camp for the last half of the week! I was living out of a suitcase, sleeping in strange beds, and being “on” for new experiences and people for seven straight days. That’s how I lead a lot of my life-fast and full-and that’s how I generally like it. This time, however, I found that I hit my point of overwhelm and ultimately ended up sick in bed all day when I got back home. Now, I know that in our culture it’s all about making the most of every day and as a life coach I help people organize and manage their time and help to boost productivity…but…there is also great value in the art of slowing down.
I’ll be your life coach today, Dear Readers, and I’d like to give you some tips on how to slow down even in the midst of crazy schedules, big commitments, and fast-paced lives.
Tip 1: Be mindful
If you have been reading this column for any length of time, you’ll know that I am a big fan of mindfulness. The great thing about this practice is that it can be done anywhere and it doesn’t require any special equipment. Adding just a little mindfulness into even the busiest of days can have a profound impact on your mood and stress level. When you’re out and about doing your day, check in once in a while and take three to five deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth. Next, bring your attention to your own heartbeat. Try to feel into the rhythm of your heart. Take a minute to track your pulse and breathe at a relaxed pace. Don’t try to force anything, just notice the rate and depth of your own pulse and breath. Do this for as little as one minute and I believe you will feel a noticeable change in your energy. There are also apps you can get for your phone or smartwatch that will remind you periodically to breathe deeply or stand up.
Tip 2: Take a break from screens
In today’s world we spend so much time staying connected to each other and the media through screens that it can be overwhelming and tempt us into a busy state of mind. I make it a habit to put my phone on silent at all times so that I am not constantly distracted by beeps and buzzes notifying me of social media posts and the hottest news story. I also keep it away in my handbag if I’m out with loved ones or friends. If I’ve been sitting at my computer for a while, I take a walk around the house/office/down to the coffee shop so that I can get out of my head for a few minutes. Even taking a trip to the water cooler or bathroom at work can be done a little more slowly than the normal automaton march we do when we have a deadline to meet.
Tip 3: Dump the multi-tasking mentality
There have been several studies released in the past few years that debunk the myth that multi-taskers get more accomplished. In fact, it has been shown that you can actually get more done if you tackle single tasks and follow them through to completion. Now, I know this is a hard one to practice. It’s so tempting to look up that recipe while you’re chatting with your mom on the phone. But, if you give yourself the time to really focus on the task at hand, you may notice that it is done more efficiently and with a higher level of quality than if you were attempting to multi-task. I can think of many a morning when I have attempted to brush my teeth, make coffee, and pack my lunch simultaneously. Most of the time when that happens I have a travel mug sitting on my counter when I get home at night, no condiments on my sandwich, and fuzzy teeth when I get to the office!
Tip 4: Prioritize
Many times we get so caught up in the to-do list that we get panicked about the sheer number of things and exaggerate their level of importance. This is called “sweating the small stuff.” What if you could shave a few things off of the list this week in order to slow down? What would that look like? More importantly, dear reader, what would that feel like? Is it really super important that you return that shirt to Macy’s today? Do you have to send the thank you card to the friend who let you crash in the spare bedroom after the concert? Sometimes we overextend ourselves because we are looking at our lives from a survival mode mentality. Slowing down helps us live from a thriving mentality instead.
Well there you have it a to-do list that will help you slow down and feel less stressed. Now that’s my kind of list!
Do you have a topic you’d like me to weigh in on? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and my next article could be just for you!
Laura Klain is a Certified Life Coach and the owner of Bud to Blossom Life Design LLC, which is located at 92 Main Street, Suite 104, in Downtown Nashua. She has been helping people build better relationships, change careers, increase creativity, and successfully navigate life’s curveballs for the last seven years. You can learn more about her at: www.budtoblossom.net.