Trying to slow down is new to me. I call myself the queen of efficiency, which really just means that I run around like a mad woman trying to get as much done as possible. And then I crash and don’t do anything for days. If this is you, I urge you to stop! I realized how many moments I’ve missed because I insisted on staying on top of a to-do list. And afterwards, I’m so tired I don’t even want to spend time with those I love. For me, slowing down was about not doing too much, and it was about leaving space.
This is the third post in a series on simplifying your life. If you missed the beginning of this series, start here: 5 ways to simplify your life and prioritize what matters most.
The third way to simplify your life and begin to enjoy it more is this: slow down. Here are some ways that I’ve found helpful for slowing down. See where you find yourself and make some small changes to get you to where you want to be. 🙂
4 Ways to Slow Down
1. Plan Ahead
Plan your time well so you aren’t rushed. Make sure to slightly over-estimate the time it will take you to get ready (and get your kids ready), or how long it will take you to get where you are going. You could set an alarm for when you need to wake up or start getting ready to leave. Here’s the key to helping you slow down: leave space and margin in your life so that an unexpected call from a friend isn’t always cramping your style and leaving you feeling rushed and stressed.
2. Be Intentional with Your Time and Energy
Think about what is necessary. What do you have to do and why? What is truly a necessary part of your life? Ask yourself what is truly important to you. Make sure you do what is important to you, and do it well. When we fill our time with too many things, we can’t do our best job at any of them. Whether it’s your job, your parenting, your house, your friendships…everything suffers to some extent.
But, when we fill our time with only things we believe to be important and necessary, and stop adding more to our schedule when we already have enough on our plates, we are able to do our best and be our best. We have left margin in our life for intentionality in everything we do. That doesn’t mean we’ll be our best all of the time, but it does mean that we have given us enough space to be successful.
3. Stop Multi-tasking
I used to pride myself in my multi-tasking skills. After all, this was a highly sought-after skill in American culture, and we all felt the pressure to improve in this area. We were told by employers and other professionals that it was a good thing…a necessary thing to keep up. But, I think, multi-tasking has stolen our time. Instead of making us more productive, it made us more distracted. When we are doing more than one thing at a time, our attention is divided. We CAN’T give our best to both.
Here are some ideas for single-tasking to get your mind flowing: Avoid working through lunch. Take time to think (or pray) when you are driving or riding the bus. Enjoy a movie without looking at your phone. Listen to people…REALLY listen. (Don’t try to listen and think of the next thing you will say!) Check your phone and emails at designated times only. Focus on one task at a time.
4. Enjoy the Little Things
Getting to enjoy life more is one of the perks of living a slow life. First, you need to learn to notice what is happening around you. Notice the breeze, the flowers, the clouds. Notice the smell of your child’s strawberry chapstick or the touch of your partner. Then, you can slow down enough to take it all in and appreciate the little things for what they are: beautiful and life- enriching.
In what areas have you been going too fast? How will you begin to slow down today? Let us know in the comments!