Has this ever happened to you? You’re in the midst of a million errands and you suddenly stop mid task and think, “What the heck am I doing? I don’t want to be this busy!”
Then, you find yourself fantasizing about long, uninhabited white sandy beaches with swaying palm trees, turquoise waters and warm balmy breezes. Or, you leave your desk, take a long walk and fantasize about what it would be like to pack up, leave and begin a simpler life.
However, you don’t want to let anyone else know you want to slow down or you might be considered to be a failure, loser, slacker – you get the idea. After all, we all wear our busyness like a badge of honor and he who is the busiest is often thought of as the most successful.
For example, have you ever had this conversation?
“Hi, how are you?”
“Great, but man, I’m busy – there isn’t enough hours in the day!”
“Yah, I know what you mean. I’m so busy that…”
What happens when the conversation takes a different turn? (I had this happen to me when I asked someone about their job)
“Hi, Jim…what are you up to right now? How’s that job?”
“Nothing…just hanging around.”
Suddenly, I found myself back-peddling to come up with witty conversation because I was secretly uneasy that he had nothing substantial and stressful to tell me. What was I thinking? I wrote a book about slowing down – I should’ve patted him on the back. That’s how brainwashed we are.
Here are some time-inspired ideas to help you temporarily slow down, relax and still achieve your goals.
1. Be a Teenager: (escape alone on a regular basis)
Remember when you crossed the threshold from being a little kid to a young teenager? The first thing you did was establish your independence by pulling away from your family and taking time to be by yourself. You spent time with friends, discovered music you liked, hid in your room and attempted to make sense of yourself and the world.
We lose that when we work, have families, run businesses and get involved in a million activities. We spread our resources thin and try to be all things to all people.
New ideas come when you take time away to be by yourself so you can determine your needs, your life direction, business direction, etc. Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, Leonardo da Vinci, Georgia O’Keefe and other amazing people accomplished much more when they took private time to be alone.
2. Create Time Boundaries (like the Terminator)
Before Arnold Schwarzenneger became the governor of California, he and his wife, Maria Shriver, would create a time boundary so they could have three uninterrupted hours with their children.
The put their answering machine on and no one could reach them from 4pm to 7pm. This was their sacred time. This may have changed now that Arnold is governor, but you get the idea.
Where could you create a time boundary? Start with work. For example, if clients reach you 24/7 then you are not in control of your time or your company; you are letting other people run you. You need to establish clear contact times such as those clients can only reach you from 8am to 6 pm Monday to Friday and Saturday until noon. After that, only other times if there’s an emergency.
This is the most challenging rule to implement for small business owners and entrepreneurs. You’re afraid you’ll lose business or insult someone but true leaders will respect your rules (and already practice these ideas).
3. Take a mini holiday (15 minutes to do something fun)
Every day has hidden pockets of time you can use for something you enjoy.
I’ve spoken with hundreds of people and the most successful people find time to do something that gives them joy. They might have a challenging time doing it every day, but they try.
One business person swims laps before work, another person practices on his guitar. It doesn’t matte what you do as long as it’s something that makes you happy. If you’re happy, you’ll be energized and your home and work like will improve.
4. Have a time free day (no wristwatch for at least a couple of hours)
If you don’t wear a watch, skip past this tip but if you can’t live without a wristband, try this escape.
Choose a time when you’re not working and do this: Remove your wristwatch and get through the day without it. If you’re like me, it’ll bother you for the first hour or two as you’ll want to know what time it is. After a while, the day may seem longer because you won’t have a wristwatch to guide you. And, you may feel less stressed because you’re not racing the clock.
5. Take 10 minutes and do absolutely nothing (but listen to your thoughts)
If you don’t have the patience to sit still (and I admit I find this a challenge) do what I do and grab a pen and paper. Start writing down the first thoughts that come to mind and keep going for 10 minutes if you want. Your ideas will come to you and you may have a revelation; it’s hard to have new ideas when you’re constantly rushing and stressed.
6. Get physical (get your body moving)
I don’t know about you, but I’ve joined gyms, worked out for a few months and then quit out of frustration for not fulfilling my goal of working out three times a week for an hour each time. We’re not stupid, we all know that exercise will help us handle stress, lose weight, feel happier, and so on…but that doesn’t make it easier for us to be active.
The best way to be active is to say, ‘I will do some form of exercise every day or every other day. It might be 10 minutes but at least it will be something.’
People quit exercise programs because they start from being inactive to trying to train for a triathalon (or close to this). Would a baby go from crawling to jogging? No. Why should we start with an intense program?
They key to success is to gradually increase your time for exercise and to make it easy to do so.
Exercise is one of the greatest stress releasers and it makes you look good and helps you live longer. Even if you only have 10 minutes to spare, work it into your schedule.
7. Get out (that is – get outside)
For most of us, we spend our days in air-conditioned offices under artificial lighting and we wonder why we’re irritable. All winter our stress levels climb and they escalate just before spring. We shouldn’t be surprised.
We’re the only creatures on earth that spend so much time indoors and we forget that we’re animals. We call ourselves civilized but I wonder how civilized we are when we’re caged in a cubicle with a computer in front of us for eight hours a day?
There’s nothing better than the sound of waves lapping on the shoreline, a walk through grass with bare feet, a picnic on a bluff, a swim in a river on a stifling hot day…
It’s more of a challenge to enjoy the outdoors when it’s below freezing, but when the temperature rises, you need to find any way you can to ‘escape’ and enjoy the great outdoors.
If you practice all of some of these escapes, your stress will be minimized, you may come up with new and innovative ideas for your life and work and you’ll stop rushing and start a new trend. Imagine that – a slowing trend! You won’t need to stop the world, the world will be inspired by you.