This article is for anyone wanting to take control of their life and create a life they love, enjoy and are inspired by. A life that is truly beautiful!!
action #5: SLOW DOWn
Do you feel like you are doing so much and yet achieving nothing important?
Like no matter how much more you take on your plate, you actually don’t seem to be getting anything meaningful done?
Like you don’t even have time to think?
Slow down baby! Slowwwwww down...
why slowing down gives us better results
Oh! It is so hard not to want to keep up with absolutely everyone around us. With the constant barrage of emails, social media, phone calls, news and information overload we have coming at us every minute of the day. So much so that we often don’t notice that all this information and contact might be distracting us from our own individual goals and objectives.
Many people believe this is just a consequence of life in the modern digital age. I am here to tell you that living like this is actually counterproductive to everything that you are trying to achieve and is the very reason that you are feeling unfulfilled and like you can’t get anything done.
You need to slow down. Less is... more!
This was a difficult concept for me to adopt coming from a legal background where every 6-minute increment of my day was logged and billed to a client or my employer. Efficiency was paramount.
The problem with this approach is that we all have different needs, desires and goals. When someone sends you an email or message or phone call, that is on their time, suiting them and not necessarily you. This does not mean that you have to adopt the other person’s schedule. You are in charge of your time.
Slowing down gives us time to take intentional action. To consider why we are doing something and to ensure it accords with individual values and objectives before doing it. It means we have more time to devote to the things that matter to us and will bring us the best return on investment.
Have you heard about the 80/20 rule? For anyone interested in maximising their time I highly recommend the 4 Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss. We often get bogged down with administrative tasks, adhering to someone else’s timeline or doing work which does not yield the best results for us. The 80/20 rule is that 80% of output comes from 20% of the effort we put in - 20%!! This means there is a lot of fluff we fluff about doing for no reason (from a bottom line perspective).
By slowing down we also give way to becoming more mindful and present in what we are doing and are more likely therefore to produce better results. No one wants to feel like a yo-yo...yo?!.
how to make room for slowing down
In order to slow down, you need to learn how to prioritise and de-clutter. As many studies have shown we often get distracted by urgent and/or unimportant tasks which inevitably lead to feeling unfulfilled. This understanding has led many to prioritise tasks which are "urgent and important" first. However, what if the "important and not urgent" tasks are the ones we would be most fulfilled or satisfied with completing? For most, there will always be tasks which are urgent and important, but urgency should not outweigh importance especially when linked to your own satisfaction or fulfilment in completing the task in question.
To assist with this distinction, Intelligent Change has created a very useful product called The Productivity Planner. This is a daily planner that prompts you to write down 5 tasks that you will focus on for the day, with the number 1 priority being the most important task, that if achieving this task alone would mean you felt satisfied. This test is genius because it not only limits your to-do list to 5 tasks, but also forces you to consider your own satisfaction in completing the tasks at hand.
Let's have a go now and try something similar!
Action #5 to Create a Life that is Beautiful
For the rest of this week, consider what you can eliminate from your day ahead and prepare a daily to do list which identifies only your 3 most important tasks for that day. Make sure the top priority is a task that if it were the only task you did that day you would leave the day feeling satisfied. Complete this task first (if at all possible, before all other urgent work).
If there is something that needs to be done, that is urgent, but not important, either don't do it or delegate it to someone else. Why are you doing work that is not important?
This exercise forces you to turn your mind to why are you choosing to complete each particular task and also sets you up to win because you are not setting yourself a never ending to-do list. When we set ourselves unrealistic to-do lists this simply leaves us feeling inadequate.
Now I'm not saying go and get yourself fired from your job. Just be more intentional and aware of how you are spending your time.
I also want you to schedule time in your day to take regular breaks (10 minutes for every hour) or breaks between tasks. Taking time for breaks between tasks to relax and recharge is extremely important for maximum focus. So make sure you schedule time for spontaneity, for rest, for talking to people, for doing whatever you want!
Sometimes during breaks I like to hide in a toilet cubicle and do 1 minute of mindfulness. What do you like to do during your breaks?
Through prioritising and de-cluttering our lives we create time to slow down which creates more space and time to focus on the things that bring you the most fulfilment and enjoyment in your life. The more you enjoy what you are doing, the better results you produce in all areas of your life. The more intentional you become over what and why you are doing something, the more control you have over the results you produce. The less you have to distract you, the more focussed you can be on the things that matter most to you. Again, less is actually more!
Being mindful and aware of how I spend my time and how much I enjoy doing whatever I am doing has allowed me to let go of numerous activities, slow down and create more space in my life. Not only do I de-clutter time, I also apply this rule in other ways. For example:
- by decluttering my physical environment through regular spring cleans
- holding a capsule wardrobe (if you don't know what this is check out Un-Fancy)
- limiting the email subscriptions I receive to ones I actually want to and do read
- reducing the amount of bank accounts I hold
- limiting my options to a maximum of 3
- deciding on the food I eat ahead of time
- having a specific intention-based value for my possessions (functional and brings me pleasure)
- doing some form of movement each day which brings me pleasure.
These actions create more space and time in my life, reduce decision making and allow me to slllloowwwww doooowwwwnnnnn.
By taking a less is more approach, you create time to focus on the things that really matter and bring you the most enjoyment & fulfilment. Most of us struggle with our endless to-do lists, but these are often full of tasks that will not bring us the results we want. Slowing down gives you space to become intentional about how you spend your time, which in turn allows you to focus on the activities which matter most, leaving you less stressed and more fulfilled.
So lovely people, this week please slow the eff down and use the prioritisation tool I have set out at Action 5 above to help you slow down and use your time intentionally. You are here to create a legacy and you will be successful in achieving that by spending your time intentionally, not by becoming a dumping ground or passenger for the work, objectives and values of others. Your contribution matters.
If you need support at any moment along this journey or want to share how you are finding this exercise, please: leave me a comment; or send me a message; or send me an email, to let me know how you are doing. I care and I appreciate you.
If you have any friends who would resonate with this article or who might like to join you this week in slowing down, remember sharing is caring so please go ahead and share this article with them.
You are worthy and wonderful, with so much to contribute to the world! We all have unique skills, abilities and interests and I wholeheartedly believe that by embracing those, finding your platform and choosing love, joy and inspiration along the way you make the world a better place. :-)
Lots of love,