SLOW DOWN TO SPEED UP
“I have simply tried to do what seemed best each day, as each day came.” -Abraham Lincoln
Feeling overwhelmed? Is your schedule jam packed? Do you find yourself lamenting, “If only I had more time?” You are not alone! But with just 24 hours in a day, it’s all about the choices you make.
You cannot live in a state of constant acceleration, seven days a week. You will burn out and become unproductive.
Decades ago, life seemed simpler. We viewed three television stations, corresponded by post, waited for our newspaper to arrive in the afternoon and had just two choices of toothpaste: Colgate and Crest. Today, we are inundated with choices. There are over 40,000 different items in a large grocery store. From the minute we wake up until we retire in the evening, we are exposed to over 6,000 marketing messages, from advertising on social media, television, radio, print, logos on clothing or a visit to a local store. There’s no way we can keep up.
Four steps to slow down, breathe, refresh and truly accomplish
1. Wake up early and spend time on yourself.
Many people wake up and put their roller skates on. They open their emails, check voicemail and social media and start responding prior to their first cup of coffee. Once an email has been opened, there are requests, questions and assignments that need to be addressed. You are no longer starting the day addressing your priorities first.
My former eighth grade teacher, Sister Theresita Donach, starts her day with prayer and contemplation — and concludes her day with kickboxing! Meditation specialist Abby Murphy advises us to make time for daily reflection and to give ourselves permission to pause. Personally, I enjoy the gym or a long walk prior to going to work. Doing something for you is not selfish, it is healthy. It will assist you with being most effective, both personally and professionally.
2. Don’t be a boiled frog.
You know the analogy. A frog dropped in boiling water will jump right out, because it knows that’s too hot. But if you take a frog that is comfortable in water and slowly turn up the heat, the frog will adjust slowly to the increased temperature until it’s too late.
This can happen to us, too. When we keep saying “yes” and assuming more and more tasks slowly, without noticing how packed and overwhelmed our lives are, we’ll burst. It can look like slamming file drawers at work, getting angry at others about our workload, or feeling so overwhelmed that we no longer know where to start.
Avoid unnecessary problems, pressure and panic by taking a step back to check the temperature. If your pot is getting hot, jump out and start working with your colleagues or family to turn the heat down!
3. Slow down to speed up.
The busiest people actually slow down to increase their productivity. My sister Jennifer is an orthodontist, triathlete and mother of four daughters (including triplets). She slows down by including her daughters in family activities – cooking, cleaning, gardening and exercising together. When she wakes up in the morning, the first words she reads are posted on a note card on her bathroom mirror: “I am not going to let anyone or anything ruin my day today.”
The secret of productivity is to stop and make time for the things in your life that matter – family, friends and activities you enjoy. This makes all the difference for your overall health of mind, body and spirit.
4. Master your moods.
When the world starts to aggravate you — whether it be the barista, parking attendant, coworker or family member — stop and reflect upon the situation. Could it be you? If everyone is starting to irritate you, perhaps it is your mindset. To help master your moods, create a “snap out of it” checklist. Listen to upbeat songs, call someone who thinks you are remarkable, take a walk or participate in an activity that brings you joy. Take a mental health day.
Are you slowing down to speed up?
Do your best to surround yourself with positive people and opportunities. Take time to breathe. Add more laughter to your life wherever and whenever you can. Live every heartbeat. You can do it!
Gail Lowney Alofsin is an author, speaker, adjunct professor, and the Director of Corporate Partnership & Community Relations for Newport Harbor Corporation. Her book, Your Someday is NOW – What are you Waiting For? has raised over $40,000 for non-profit organizations since April 2014.
A lifelong student and humanitarian, Gail believes that we all have the capability to be a leader in our own lives, influencing the lives of others to positive peak performance and success. To book Gail for your next conference or company meeting, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on twitter: @gailalofsin.