how to enjoy slow living and how to hurry less

Hurrying is such an unhelpful feeling but one that is familiar to all of us. Lots of folk seem to be playing catch up this week, myself included. It can be that way after a school holiday, right? We all spent the Easter holiday juggling (and loving) having the kids at home but also keeping on top of normal stuff too, be it work, or other projects. That unhelpful sense of being behind can swiftly spiral into rushing, which then turns into stress and anxiety.

We have also all had those mornings were the tasks we are doing have just taken longer than we thought, or something unforeseen happens that means you get lots less done. One morning this week my washing machine started leaking, luckily I was right there in the kitchen so managed to stop it pretty quickly, but there was still a good 40 minutes of mopping up water and organising someone to come and fix the machine that I hadn’t planned for.  

Two frustrating mornings and a sense of being behind before I had even begun got me in a really negative head space for working. It got me thinking about why we hurry in the first place and how we can avoid hurrying altogether. There must be things we can do differently with how we approach our days and how we mange our time so we are present and relaxed whilst also being productive. Also, what if hurrying has become so habitual to you that you are in a rushing rut? How do we shake off that hurried feeling, do more things slowly and hurry less….

Our state of mind and the thoughts and intentions we have obviously impacts our energy and mood. Having a positive mental attitude and making sure we ‘talk’ to ourselves kindly is bound to improve motivation and productivity. It also seems like it should be pretty simple to do but it’s actually something lots of people struggle with. It seems like for many, our default setting is negative thoughts, self doubt, and focusing on what’s wrong.

Of course starting each day feeling behind and agitated by how much there is to do, automatically makes you rush through tasks to get further down your list. Having this hurried mental approach creates a scarcity mindset that there are not enough hours in the day. 

This is such an important thing to change. Obviously approaching your tasks and work day in general feeling that there is insufficient time isn’t going to create a conducive atmosphere for productivity and creativity. Once you are in that energy of having to rush and hurry it’s really hard to put the breaks on and get yourself into a different head space.

It’s amazing that a simple thing like intention can set the tone for the whole day.

We must also realise that the urge to hurry is only the seed and the consequences reach much deeper. Hurrying usually turns into putting pressure on ourselves to get the stuff done, which then grows into stress and anxiety where it festers and expands until we are really overwhelmed.

If we dedicate some time and energy to thinking about how we approach tasks and our schedules we can alleviate that sense of hurry and allow ourselves to sink into each individual section of our day with enjoyment.

Of course time management and how we organise ourselves is a big part of slow living. It makes sense that we have to have an awareness of how we are spending our time and how long certain tasks take so we can make conscious decisions about our schedules.

There are a few time management tips that I have learnt over the last few years freelancing that I am sure help me stay motivated, focused and improve my productivity. Basically they are simple things that you can do that stop that feeling of overwhelm, help you feel like you are getting stuff done (crossing things of your list) and moving forward. All of which help you stay more relaxed, complete your work slowly and remain calm.

Six time management tips to help you do more things slowly and hurry less…

  • Be realistic – Don’t be over ambitious with how much you can achieve. Having a really long list that never gets done isn’t good for your morale. I have a big master list, and then write a weekly list that I have to be really mindful about not putting too much on.

  • Time box tasks – When I write my list at the beginning of the week, I try to time box tasks, so for example; edit photos – 60 minutes, write blog post – 2 hours, upload post – 30 minutes… you get the idea. This can be really helpful as it means I don’t spend ages on one individual task. This works best on those less creative tasks that just need to get done. For those creative tasks you want to lose yourself in I like to give myself more freedom… it’s no fun watching the clock if I want to get lost in a piece of writing work.

  • Be flexible – As I mentioned earlier there will be some tasks that just take longer than expected so if this is the case allow yourself the flexibility to roll with it. Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t get everything done – be kind to yourself. More specifically make sure the language you use and how you think about yourself and what you have done is positive.

  • Sort your tasks into small, medium and large – Small task being 30 minutes and under, medium task being an hour, and large tasks being an hour or more. It makes sense that it’s easier to find little pockets of time i.e 30 minutes to answer an email, than it is a larger chunk of time – think about this when planning your week.

  • Give yourself a time buffer – Don’t pack your allotted time with tasks, if you have four hours free to work, schedule for just over 3. If you don’t need the buffer you can always choose something else to complete off your list. It’s much more satisfying to get to the end of the day and feel that you have completed your list (and you even managed an extra task), than you didn’t manage to get through what you’d planned.

  • Do your core work first – I try to pick my larger tasks that I need my most focus and energy for first (and things that are of highest priority). A paid piece of work would fall into this category, or a piece of writing that I really want to get my teeth into. Once the bigger piece of work is complete I find it easier to relax into the smaller tasks.

It’s great to remind myself of these tools as recently I had slipped into some bad habits and hadn’t been doing all of the above. Our bodies get into rhythms and habits pretty easily so it’s up to us to change these and put new positive ones in place. 

If you are after something instant you can do to break that hurrying habit and bring you into a calmer energy I am sharing a little exercise over in Seeking Slow later today (my facebook group where I am sharing slow living and wellbeing rituals) You can join that group here, everyone is welcome to come be part of the community.

You only need five minutes to shift the energy and send your day in a new more positive direction. Simply take the time to stop and drop into your breath and body. Take a moment to feel connected to the earth and ground yourself, to settle your breath and soften your solar plexus, and literally shake of that hurried feeling. By doing so, you can completely change the energy space you were in and are able to start your day a fresh, from a calmer place.

Melanie BarnesComment