As I write this, this is my first official day back to work after my Spring Break – a Spring Break I spent sick, lying on my couch trying to breathe. It was not how I had planned on spending my Spring Break, but it was actually quite wonderful. No anxiety, no to-do lists, nowhere to go.
I was talking to a friend of mine about it this morning. “I wish I could feel like this all the time – minus the sickness,” I told her. “Yes,” she said. “That's the goal.” She challenged me to carve out more time for myself everyday – time for me to rest, play, and just be. In addition, she encouraged me to slow down in other ways – to get out of hectic going and doing like I'm on a hamster wheel mode.
Here are the possible strategies we brainstormed to help me with my objectives:
- Take the time to prioritize daily objectives. Each morning before I start working, I ask myself, “What are the 3 most important things (MITs) I need to do today?” Then I usually make a list of 5-10 things. Inevitably, I don't finish my to do list and then feel bad about it, which defeats the whole purpose of the 3 most important things. No more! I am going to allow myself to list 3 and only 3 things. Then I focus on those 3 things. Yes, interruptions will occur, but I find if I write them down and put them by my computer, it helps me remember what I am supposed to be focusing on.
- Cut internet use by half. Okay, I'll admit it. I'm a FaceBook junkie. Then I complain about not having enough time to do the things I want to do. Of course, if I spent less time on FaceBook, Twitter and my email, I'd get more done… My friend suggested I close out my email account when I’m working so I don’t get distracted. Ditto with Facebook. Without the constant notifications pinging at me, my work space should be much quieter, and thus make it easier to concentrate to my 3 MITs!
- Enjoy nature. I try to get outside every day – especially when it’s nice out. A mid-day quick stroll or a few minutes in my backyard at the end of the day go a long way to restoring my sanity. Since my dog Kolby always knows when it's “time” to go for a walk, he holds me accountable. 😉
- Eat More Slowly. Confession time: I am eating my lunch at 3:00pm while I write this blog post. Clearly, this is not conducive to get digestion or getting the most nutrients out of my food. I need to stop doing that.
- Connect with family and friends. I’m not talking about Facebook either. I’m talking about one-on-one time when you can actually enjoy each other’s company, sans smart phones.
- Make time for yourself. Yeah, yeah, yeah. “But I don’t have time for myself.” Yes, you do. Cut down on Facebook by 10 minutes a day and do something relaxing for you. Have 15 minutes? Take a relaxing soak – even 15 minutes will do wonders for your sanity.
- Give yourself more time. Some of us like to stick to a tight schedule and plan all our daily events. Next time you’re jotting down new tasks in your planner, try to factor in a few extra minutes when estimating how long things will take. This will help you not rush through daily tasks. And, if you're anything like me, you tend to underestimate how long this will take. So this will allow you to feel less harried trying to get things done “on time.”
- Take the scenic route. Hate rush hour? Me too. So I drive the ‘long’ scenic way to work. It’s so much more refreshing than sitting in traffic. Occasionally I even see a deer! I also listen to music and dance during my commute – when I get to work I'm already in a good mood!
- Sit for a moment with your eyes closed when you start your computer. I start each day in prayer. I ask for guidance. I ask for God/Goddess/Universe to guide my thoughts, sight, words, voice, heart, hands, and body. And then, and only then, do I start working. (This also works well when you're dealing with a difficult person!)
- Remember your goals and aspirations. It's so easy to get sidetracked by all the little time wasters in life. Those 3 MIPs should be taking you one step closer to your goals. If they're not, they're not MIPs.
How do you take time for you and get off that hamster wheel each day?