How busy are you? Whether you have a taxing job, a long commute, or are home with children, life in our technologically-heavy world can feel fast – too fast – all the time.
We’re always hurrying, which makes us feel hurried.
It’s difficult and counter-cultural to just slow down a bit.
And yet, we all say we want to be less busy. We say we want to slow down and enjoy life.
How do we actually do it?
Here are five simple ways to slow down a little and feel less busy :
||ONE|| Set a timer for a “hard stop” in your day. Even if you only pause for five minutes, make sure you take it as a hard stop. Pause what you are doing, completely. Pray, meditate, go outside without any devices and stare at the clouds. Whatever you do, just don’t make it another thing on your to-do list.
||TWO|| When you come through the door at home, just sit. The groceries can wait 3 minutes to be unpacked, the laundry doesn’t need to be done just this minute. Practice just sitting for a few moments before rushing off to the next activity. Bonus: It will help you be present to anyone who welcomes you home.
||THREE|| Get up in the morning with a few minutes to spare. This is a tough one if you love sleep! But if you don’t wait until the last possible minute, you won’t be rushing around like a crazy person looking for your keys and panicking about being late. You’ll be able to walk to the bus stop or pull out of the driveway in peace. (If you’re not a morning person, ask yourself: is the extra five minutes of sleep worth the frantic pace and lack of calm? It’s a trade-off, but it’s usually worth it.)
||FOUR|| Act with kindness towards “future you.” Try to think ahead to how you will feel when there is no food in the house for dinner, or when you can’t find that piece of paper you need for the appointment, or when you have no clean socks. You wouldn’t set up life such that your spouse or friend is constantly hungry, annoyed, and lacking clean clothes: so don’t do that to you. If things are in order, you can move at a reasonable pace instead of a frantic one. This isn’t about constantly “living in the future” – it’s about establishing simple habits that are acts of kindness toward yourself.
||FIVE|| Practice doing one thing at a time. Give yourself the satisfaction of doing one thing well. Complete one task before moving on to the next one. There’s a story of a monk explaining to a harried lay woman that the first lesson in monastic life is simply to learn to close the door you have come through, gently, without hurry. Most of us could learn that skill! One thing at a time. (This isn’t always possible: sometimes we have to put in laundry while dinner is in the oven and we are trying to reply to an email. But sometimes, we end up multi-tasking out of habit rather than necessity.)
Slowing down might not come naturally at first, but if we value peace and stillness in our lives, it’s one way to ensure that we prioritize it.
(This article originally was originally shared with my email list in May of 2019. I’m sharing it here in hopes that you find some encouragement in it. If you like what you read, sign up for emails! My list gets regular helpful and encouraging letters straight to their inboxes.)